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December 22, 2015

New Year's Resolutions for Healthy Aging

Never been on a hot air balloon ride, but want to give it a whirl? Ready to write your memoirs? Eager to travel to a place you’ve never been? Each of these could make it to your New Year’s resolutions list—and that’s great. Just make sure that you also incorporate the habits that the American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging recommends as the top 10 healthy resolutions for older adults. We’ve highlighted a few in this post, but we recommend that you read the entire article.

Choose Food Wisely

Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy and healthy fats. Although you need fewer calories as you age, it is still essential you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including the darker-colored nutritious ones, plus quality sources of calcium and vitamin D and so forth.

Look at the USDA’s updated MyPyramid for older adults for more specifics. This site also offers an interactive tool to use for planning meals, cooking and overall healthy eating.

Keep Moving

Exercise—both for overall good health and as a form of fall prevention. To prevent falls, walking and working out with an elastic exercise band can “boost your strength, balance and flexibility, and help you avoid falls.” Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure that none of your medications could make it more likely for you to fall. Install grab bars in your bathtub or shower and nightlights in strategic places for nighttime trips to the bathroom.

ACE Fitness offers tips on how to exercise as an older adult so that you can live life to the fullest. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program or if you experience any challenges or unusual symptoms when exercising.

Speak Up When You’re Sad

If you’re experiencing signs of depression or anxiety, know two things. One, you’re not alone. About 1 in 5 adults suffer “lingering sadness, tiredness, a loss of appetite or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed, difficulty sleeping, worry, irritability and wanting to be alone.” If you experience any of these signs for more than two weeks, you may be dealing with depression or anxiety.

Unsure whether your symptoms indicate depression? The National Institute of Mental Health offers more clarification about the signs in older adults—and, be proactive. If you’re unsure, talk to your doctor. Or ask for support from family and friends.

Brain Power

Don’t forget to give your brain a workout. Read, do crossword puzzles, attend local library programs, take classes at the local community college, or whatever else keeps you alert and engaged.

And, socialize. If holding a New Year’s Eve celebration is something you’d enjoy, the Food Network lists plenty of tasty appetizers. Here, they specifically list “small, mingle-friendly bites,” which is a great way to choose food wisely. The Food Network also recommends lots of bubbly, but it’s possible to have fun while still following another one of the Health in Aging recommendations: Limit alcohol consumption to a safe amount for older adults. The maximum for older men: 14 drinks per week; older women: seven per week. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of hard liquor.

What will be your New Year's resolution for healthy aging in 2016?

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