In these changing and challenging times, it is more important than ever that everyone have goals, including older adults. That may sound odd but consider why it is important to have resolutions as you age.
Resolutions give you purpose because, essentially, they provide goals to achieve. That helps you live longer. Studies have shown that purpose is more indicative of longevity than gender, race, or education and more important for decreasing your risk of death than quitting drinking and smoking, or exercising regularly.
Rush University researchers have shown that having purpose reduces your risk for developing Alzheimer’s. So, there are health benefits.
When it comes to resolutions we think of the usual – lose weight, exercise, diet, finances, organization. I think there’s more to it.
We know that by February most people have given up on their resolutions.
I think we need to think deeper about our resolutions and the actions we take around them. So much has changed over the last few years – political divides, financial pressures – that people, I know my wife and I did, started questioning everything. The nature of relationships changed. We realized how much we missed family. It was and is a good time to step back.
What happened for us is that we realized how great our life was and how grateful we were. I have been with a lot of older adults and have observed a handful of traits that contribute to them having a quality of life. Gratefulness is at the top of the list.
The other traits point to resolutions and goals you can set and include:
Inhabitants of Blue Zones, where it has been shown that people live to much older ages, don’t set exercise goals. They just build movement into their day, achieving the same things we sweat at the gym to do.
Set a goal to be more physically active. If you want, join a dance class or exercise class. Just move. Part and parcel to that is to be eating healthier in the New Year.
Laughter has almost the same benefits as exercise and ignites that same chemical reaction in your body. Watch or listen to more comedy. Don’t be afraid of self-deprecating humor. Lighten up, people.
Lifelong learning is key to aging with quality. Having a hobby can help with that. Taking a class in person or online can help too. Reading more can help as well.
Social isolation is an epidemic among older adults. Thirty-six percent of those 55+ live alone. If you are one of them then find ways to break the isolation, perhaps volunteering. And if you are not one of those people, find those who are isolated and strike up a friendship.
Finally, having a great attitude can do so much to help you. Meditation, nature walks – these can help you become more centered, grounded, grateful and feeling better about life.
It is estimated that there are almost 44 million family caregivers in the U.S. I would venture there are more because we created a new class of them – Covid caregivers.
Family caregiver health is more important than ever. Many of us missed a whole year or more without seeing a physician, exacerbating health issues for people with chronic issues.
So tried and true resolutions about fitness and health have more importance and practicality. And of course, mental health issues have come to the fore like never before. It is not a stigma to have emotional and/or mental health issues. It is a sign to reach out for help from professionals. Do so.
So, with all of that, is it still good to have practical resolutions that can be achieved?
Absolutely. Goals we stress every year include organizing your medical records, decluttering your home for safety, organizing your finances, putting an estate plan together, documenting your wishes in a will and through advanced directives. Still behind on these? They’re still important.
I’ll leave you with this. If we are going to take this big-picture look at resolutions, consider the following:
Have you decided on your New Year’s resolution yet? Is it practical or more purpose oriented? What type of resolution will you not make this year?
Tags Healthy Aging