It’s almost 2019 … do you know what your New Year’s resolutions are? Making plans to improve oneself in the new year is almost as traditional to the holidays as decorating the house, and you’re probably already making plans for “eating better” and “getting more exercise.” This year, we’d like to challenge you to think about your New Year’s resolutions a little bit differently and instead focus on a singular goal: Aging as successfully as possible.
“Many ‘traditional’ New Year’s resolutions are actually pretty perfect for seniors, because they’re practically an outline on how to age well,” says Kristine Tilton, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley. “The important thing is to make sure you’re not trying to do too much all at once. As everyone who’s signed up for a gym membership in January knows, it’s easy to start off strong but lose momentum by February!”
Tilton suggests that seniors who are focusing on health and wellness should set goals that are realistic and easy to attain. “The best goals are ones that are just an amplification of what you’re already doing,” she says. “For example, if you’re wanting to eat better, you could focus on adding one more fruit or vegetables to each meal. Little steps can add up to big results for your health, and you’ll be more likely to stick with them once you start seeing results.”
If healthy aging is on your New Year’s resolution list this year, here are five suggestions of how to incorporate it into your daily life.
1. Make Exercise a Daily Habit
Yes, of course, exercise is the first thing on our list. As you already know, staying physically active is one of the best ways to help you age successfully. In fact, you probably already do exercises of some sort, whether it’s a simple walk around the block after dinner or lifting weights a few nights a week. For 2019, boost your game by creating an actual routine that can help you address current needs or stave off health concerns.
Experts recommend that seniors over the age of 64 should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise and 2 hours of strength training a week. That’s about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and 20 minutes of strength training a day. If you’re a couch potato, this might sound like a lot to you – but take heart. You don’t have to exercise in one big chunk. In fact, you can easily get your daily allotment of exercise by doing simple things like:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walking or biking places instead of driving
- Taking your dog on a slightly longer walk each day
- Parking in the back of the parking lot instead of the front
- Doing light yard work
- Exercising during commercial breaks, like jogging in place, lifting weights or doing jumping jacks
2. Take Steps to Improve your Diet
We all know that eating right, just like exercising, is key to healthy aging. If your diet isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, you don’t automatically have to shift into eating grilled chicken and boiled veggies at every meal (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Experts recommend a healthy balance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats, all of which can be added to your existing diet while reducing some of the less-healthy options you’re currently eating. Here are a few ways on how to make healthy eating happen more regularly in your daily life:
- Choose the “lighter” option at restaurants, e.g. opt for grilled chicken instead of fried on your salad
- Add at least one additional fruit or vegetable to each meal
- If you eat dessert every night, start eating it every other night
- Stock your home with healthy snacks like carrot sticks, hummus, pretzels and nuts instead of potato chips and cookies
3. Improve Your Social Life
Staying socially active isn’t just fun. Research has shown that it boosts our immune systems, improves our emotional health, staves off depression and helps us live longer overall. Connections with friends and family only become more important as we age. Here are some tips on making yourself a more socially active person in 2019:
- Volunteer for a cause you believe in, whether that’s helping out at a soup kitchen, helping foster an animal for a shelter or helping out at your place of worship.
- Stay in touch with friends via phone, snail mail or even through social media. Make a goal to get out at least once a week to have lunch or coffee with someone you care about.
- Pick up an old hobby or start a new activity you’ve always wanted to try, like photography, cooking, knitting or whatever else strikes your fancy. Find a group or class in your area to meet like-minded people and learn new tips and tricks.
4. Give Your Brain a Workout
Your brain needs to be kept in shape, too. By doing brain boosters on a regular basis, you’ll reduce the risk of developing cognitive diseases, as well as improve your memory (and keep your brain healthier overall). Keep your mind sharp through simple exercises like:
- Word puzzles and games, like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and others
- Learning something new like playing an instrument, learning a new language or picking up a new hobby
- Play online brain games (there are many apps you can download to a tablet or phone)
- Take a class at a nearby community college
5. Create an Attitude of Gratitude
It’s easy to be negative when we’re bombarded daily by bad news from various forms of media. This doesn’t just put us in a grumpy mood – it also increases stress levels, risk of cardiovascular disease and depression, among other things. This year, focus instead on promoting a positive attitude to reduce stress, improve your health and your quality of life. Here are some easy tips to refocus your mind on the good in life:
- Be thankful. Think about all the things that you’re thankful for. Some people choose to keep a gratitude journal, but you can simply spend time each day recognizing three good things in your life.
- Be mindful. Our minds can spin out of control with worry and the “what may happen.” Take a deep breath and focus on the now, and you’ll instantly reduce tension and stress. You can accomplish this through guided meditation or by spending a few minutes before you fall asleep by focusing on your breathing and letting go of the stress of the day.
For more information about healthy aging, or to learn more about how we provide distinctive and luxurious independent and assisted living options for seniors in Wellesley, MA, please contact us at 781.235.1614.
Beautiful Riverfront Community
Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.
Celebrating Dynamic Living
Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.
Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.
Confidence of Care
The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.
For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.235.1614.