Healthy Habits Seniors Should Adopt In The New Year

senior man celebrating the new yearThe new year is almost here! That means it’s the perfect time for seniors to start thinking about how they maintain their health in the coming year. Starting new healthy habits for seniors early in the year makes it easier to stay focused on good health all year long. And making a few simple healthy lifestyle changes can result in dramatically improved health for seniors.

Seniors who need a little extra help adopting healthy habits can get the help they need from a dedicated caregiver. That caregiver can be a family member or a paid caregiver from a home health agency. In some cases, family members can get paid for helping their senior loved ones.

Getting Into A New Habit

The hardest part of adopting a healthy habit is starting. All too often people make the decision to change their lifestyle habits but end up going back to their old unhealthy ways within a few weeks. That’s why so many people start off the new year going strong with their new habits but have usually abandoned those healthy changes by March.

If you want to make something a habit you have to work at it, and it can be tough to break old unhealthy habits.  When you are ready to make some healthy lifestyle changes, you should follow these steps in order to make those changes become habits:

Don’t Change Too Much Too Fast

You may be tempted to start out the new year by changing lots of things in your life. But that’s setting yourself up for failure. Pick one or two changes that you want to make and work on just those habits for 30 days. By the end of that 30 days, those changes will be habits if you stick with them. Then you can work on making two more changes. And do those for 30 days. Then pick two more and continue doing that until you’ve turned all those changes you wanted to make into habits.

arrow hitting the targetSet Specific Goals

It’s easy to say that you want to eat healthier and lose weight. But if you want to really accomplish those things you need to set specific and measurable goals. So in order to accomplish the goals of eating healthier and losing weight, you might commit to eat a healthy dinner every night and exercise three days a week. Those are specific and measurable goals that will ultimately help you eat healthier and lose weight.

Make Changes With A Friend

It’s a lot easier to make healthy changes when you have a friend that wants to make healthy changes too. You can hold each other accountable and check in with each other to see how you are doing making those changes. Creating healthy habits like exercising regularly or eating healthy meals are easier when you have a friend to do those things with. So talk to some of your friends about what changes they want to make in the new year and work together to make those changes become healthy habits.

Reward Yourself

It’s important to celebrate the progress that you’re making and reward yourself when you hit a goal. About two weeks into your 30-day commitment to a lifestyle change, take a look at your progress. Are you exercising three times a week like you said you would? Great! Buy yourself some new walking shoes or a new fitness tracker. If you are keeping your promise to eat a healthy dinner every night reward yourself by buying yourself a healthy dinner at your favorite restaurant.

senior women friends at the beachAsk For Help

If there are changes that you want to make that you’re struggling with, get whatever help you need to make those changes. If you are having trouble getting out and shopping for healthy food because you don’t drive, or because you have a medical condition that makes shopping difficult like arthritis, get help from a caregiver that can shop with you and help you stay on budget and shop for healthy food. Or if you have trouble cooking meals a caregiver can cook with you or help you clean up so that you won’t have to struggle to eat healthy. Being healthy should be a priority, and asking for help in order to reach your goals is a great way to be more pro-active about your health.

The Healthiest Habits For Seniors

Not sure what lifestyle changes you should be thinking about to take charge of your health in the coming year? Here are few of the healthiest habits for seniors as recommended by aging experts and medical professionals:

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is critically important for seniors. Seniors who don’t get enough sleep can raise their risk for health problems.

Sleep deprivation in seniors can also cause irritability, brain fog, depression and may cause gain weight. Going to bed at the same time each night will help seniors who suffer from insomnia.  A warm shower or bath just before bed can also help combat insomnia and sleeplessness. Avoid watching TV or using a computer before bed because the light from the TV or the computer can actually make insomnia worse. Reading a paper book before bed is a good way to relax and wind down at the end of the day, or try listening to an audiobook.

keeping schedule on a calendar

Keep To A Schedule

Keeping a regular schedule helps keep seniors grounded and give them a sense of purpose. Getting up at the same time each day and going to bed at the same time each night will help seniors build a healthy routine. Getting up early is strongly recommended for seniors because many find that they are more alert and feel better physically early in the day. So early morning is a great time to exercise and do other physical tasks like cleaning the house. Seniors who struggle to get up in the morning will find it easier by setting an alarm clock.

Exercise Daily

Exercise is one of the most important lifestyle habits that seniors should have. Regular exercise will help seniors maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. It also helps tone muscles and keeps bones strong. And regular exercise will help seniors stay mobile for longer. Exercise doesn’t have to be rigorous to be helpful either. Just a simple 20 or 30 minute walk each day or going to a senior swim class 2 or 3 times each week can make a huge difference in health.

Make Crafts or Art

Arts and crafts are extremely beneficial for seniors and they should pursue whatever art or craft they like or try something new. Making art and doing crafts has been proven to help seniors fight depression and anxiety. Arts and crafts also help seniors maintain hand and eye coordination, reasoning, spatial relationships and other important functions. One way to put this suggestion into motion is to learn how to play a musical instrument. Many seniors find making art and crafts to be relaxing as well.

Socialize Regularly

It’s easy for seniors that are living independently to slowly stop going out to socialize. Maybe they have trouble driving, or maybe they are feeling depressed and don’t want to go out. A senior whose spouse has passed away may have trouble making new friends and finding activities that will get them out of the house. But getting regular social interaction is essential for mental health. There are many ways that seniors can interact with others outside the house. Social gatherings, travel groups, exercise classes and even just getting coffee or a meal with an old friend can all help seniors stay connected to the world.

healthy food choices for seniorsCook Healthy Meals

This is a habit that many seniors could benefit from. All too often seniors don’t cook healthy meals or eat healthy food. Maybe they don’t want to go through the hassle of cooking a meal just for themselves, or maybe they have trouble grocery shopping, so they don’t cook meals in order to stay out of the grocery store. But not eating healthy can cause major health problems for seniors. Having a caregiver or a friend to cook with and to cook for can help seniors get into the habit of cooking healthy meals for themselves instead of relying on take-out or delivery meals.

Play Brain Games

Brain training games like puzzles and brain teasers are a fantastic way for seniors to keep their brain strong as they age. Working on puzzles and brain training games will help seniors retain their cognitive skills and help them fight depression. There are many books, websites, and tablet apps that are filled with fun and interesting games that are designed to improve and maintain reasoning, critical thinking, memory, and other cognitive skills.

Keep A Journal

Writing can be great therapy. Keeping a journal is a fantastic way for seniors to keep a record of their health as they get older. And it’s a good way for seniors to record old family stories, their favorite memories, and other things that they don’t want to forget. Making art journals, or journals that are a combination of words and art can help seniors fight depression and anxiety too.

Are there other healthy habits for seniors you can suggest? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you found this info helpful, please share on your favorite social media!

About the Author: Kristen Heller

Kristen is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano.


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4 thoughts on “Healthy Habits Seniors Should Adopt In The New Year

  1. Thanks, Scott, for your expertise in helping seniors. These are some great habits for seniors to incorporate. I especially like the journaling suggestion. Seniors have so much to share with us in their life experiences. Thanks, Kristen for the post.

  2. What a great roundup! I especially liked the advice to choose only one or two specific goals at a time, and to reward progress a couple of weeks in. Reinforcing healthy habits is one of the best ways to ensure we’ll stick with them.

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