Healthy and Happy Aging Goals to Start the New Year Off Right

It’s time to close the books on another year. As we get used to saying “2020,” many of us are thinking about New Year’s resolutions and what we would like to change in the coming months. 

“Making New Year’s resolutions is a time-honored tradition that’s been around for thousands of years,” says Angel Van Horn, Community Relations Specialist at Park Manor, the most trusted retirement communityin Nashville, TN. “But, as you very well know, the best laid plans don’t always play out exactly the way we’d like. Approximately 35 percent of us only stick to our resolutions through the end of January, and 77 percent of us have given up our resolutions by the end of the year.” 

Obviously, people don’t make resolutions because they want to fail. The problem, says Angel, is that we often get a little too excited – or optimistic – when making resolutions and either overcommit ourselves, make unattainable resolutions or a little bit of both. 

“When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, less is definitely more,” she says. “The trick to keeping your resolutions is to be thoughtful and choose goals that you are willing to dedicate your energy, time and schedule to.” 

Choosing goals – not making resolutions – is another way to subtly “hack” your mind and help you be more apt to stick to changes. “By coming up with attainable, concrete goals, you’ll be able to actually see the progress you’re making and have something you’re striving for,” says Angel. Breaking down those attainable goals further into “mile markers” can keep you on track and on the move as the months go by. 

If you’re a senior hoping to make healthy changes to keep you feeling fine and being happy in 2020, here are our suggestions of New Year’s resolutions – excuse us, goals – that you’ll want to keep. 

1. Get (and stay) healthy. 

Hold on, you might be saying – didn’t we just say that attainable, concrete goals were the way to paving the road for resolution success? Yes, “healthy” is a vague and squishy goal because it means something different to everyone, particularly older adults. For example, if you’re already in relatively good health, “getting healthy” may mean adding a day of exercise into your routine or eating an extra serving of leafy vegetables each day. If you’re struggling with obesity, “healthy” may mean losing a certain amount of weight. If you have a chronic disease like diabetes or heart issues, “staying healthy” might mean keeping your condition stable. 

The first step in this resolution, therefore, is to determine what “healthy” means and looks like to you. Take stock of your health (a check-up with your doctor is a great way to start your resolution off on the right foot) and come up with a clear and realistic picture of what “good health” looks like for you – and how to get there. Here are some easy-to-accomplish suggestions on how to get started on the right foot. 

●     Balance your diet. Take steps to attaining and maintaining a diet filled with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats. Start slow, if you must. Begin by adding an extra serving of veggies to your meals, or exchanging simple carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, etc.) with their complex counterparts (brown rice, multigrain bread, etc.). Don’t forget the importance of treating yourself every once in a while. It’s okay to indulge in alcohol, sweets and salty snacks, as long as it’s in moderation. 

●     Get moving. 30 minutes of exercise per day is all you need to jump-start a healthy lifestyle. Best of all, those 30 minutes don’t have to be done all at once. You can take a quick, five-minute walk, do leg lifts while watching TV, going up and down the stairs several times ... keep adding those mini-breaks into your daily routine and you’ll find yourself feeling better, being stronger and having more energy. Gradually increase your physical activity to keep yourself challenged and continue your progress. 

●     Keep up on doctor’s visits. Checking in with your doctor on a regular basis will help you catch any issues before they turn into anything serious. It will also help you stay on top of preventative tactics, like immunizations, new developments in medications or medical philosophies and age-appropriate health screenings. 

2. Start something new. 

A healthy lifestyle includes a healthy and happy brain. Keeping yourself engaged and learning new things will minimize your risk of developing memory issues and potentially help you avoid developing dementias like Alzheimer’s disease. Think of something you’ve always wanted to accomplish, try or learn, and make 2020 the year where you start down that path. Have you always wanted to learn how to knit? Start a book club? Volunteer for a certain cause? There’s no right or wrong answer – if it’s something that interests you, keeps you motivated and fills you up emotionally, it will engage your brain and give you a boost. Doing something new, especially if it involves others, will help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation, all of which are more prevalent during the winter months. That doesn’t mean that doing things by yourself isn’t helpful. Exercise your brain with fun games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles or Words with Friends. Just like your body, your brain needs to be fed on a regular basis – and variety is the spice of life. 

3. Plan your year’s accomplishments. 

What things do you want to accomplish in 2020? Are there trips you’ve been wanting to take, friends you’ve wanted to see, goals you’ve wanted to accomplish? Mapping out your year – and setting “touchpoints” for your New Year’s goals – is a great way to organize your time and give you something to look forward to. What do you want to do in the spring to help you accomplish your goals? What about summer? Where do you want to be by the time fall rolls around? Establishing checkpoints to reach your long-term goals will better help you stick to your resolutions. 

Big changes don’t happen overnight, but little changes can occur at any time. No matter what new goals you set for yourself for 2020, be sure to start slow and work your way up. Little things add up quickly, and by this time next year, you’ll find yourself looking back at a year filled with accomplishments, happiness and better health. 

If you have more questions about living a happy, healthy life in 2020, please contact us at 615.277.1107.

Love Where You Live!

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Do I love where I live?” If you ask that question of the residents of Park Manor, Nashville’s premier retirement community, the answer would be a resounding, “Yes!” For over 50 years, Park Manor has served Nashville’s seniors by providing a community designed to support an active, independent, secure, healthy and worry-free lifestyle.  Located on seven spacious acres in the desirable Nashville neighborhood Belle Meade, we’re proud to provide a lifestyle our residents love each and every day. 

Park Manor’s approach to senior living is simple: exceed our residents’ expectations. We strive to provide everything you could possibly need and want to live your life the way you choose. At Park Manor, you will enjoy a standard of living reminiscent of a luxury resort – but it’s not a vacation – it’s your lifestyle! This commitment is why we are held in such high regard by our surrounding community and are known as the premier retirement community offering independent living and assisted living lifestyles.

For seniors requiring memory care, Park Manor is associated with the prestigious Abe’s Garden® Memory Care Center of Excellence. Abe’s Garden® is committed to transforming the care of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by establishing a national model of residential living and day care programs for those suffering from the disease. Abe’s Garden® provides an unprecedented level of care in addition to a comprehensive array of services and lifestyle options. 

At Park Manor, your continued independence is our top priority. Enjoy living life as you choose ... in the comfort and privacy of your own apartment, while having the peace of mind of knowing help is available if and when you need it.

For more information, please call 615.277.1107.