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health care providers healthy resolutionsEvery year, many new year’s resolutions are made as midnight approaches on January 1st. Here are a few New Year’s resolution suggestions for seniors geared toward having a healthy year in 2015 and beyond.

Increase Daily Physical Activity Levels 

OK, exercising is a pretty obvious resolution and a common one for people of all ages, but that is because it is an important one.  If you want to be healthy, you have to keep active.  Health care providers recommend setting a realistic goal.  If you’ve never exercised before, running a marathon is not a realistic goal.  Taking a 30 minute walk 4 or 5 times a week may be more realistic. Or check out the class offerings for active older adults at the local YMCA.  Make a goal to do something active outside of your regular routine at least a few times a week.  Then stick to your goal, and if you miss a week, make the resolution all over again.

Eat Healthier

Again, set realistic goals.  Health care providers recommend a diet that you can stay on for life, so do not set yourself up for the impossible. If you say everything you eat has to be 100% healthy, you are likely to fail by January 2nd.  Choose one unhealthy thing to eliminate, like refined sugars or trans fats.  Another option is to choose to eat healthy things first, like 5 servings of fresh vegetables daily, before letting yourself indulge in a sweet or dessert.   Or try a change in the types of foods you eat – try eating mostly fresh whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean meats and poultry, and fish and eliminate highly processed foods as much as possible.  Every little change helps and the more realistic it is the more sustainable it will be for the long term.

Engage In Mental Fitness Activities

Learn a language, play trivia or brain games, join a book discussion group, take a class.  Keeping your brain active and engaged will keep you mentally astute and healthy.

Take Care Of Your Health 

Health care providers advise preventative checkups on a regular basis to prevent common conditions from getting out of control.  Get routine health screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, bone density, thyroid levels and other routine health screenings.  Have health screenings for prostate or other cancers.  Get your mammogram scheduled. If you’ve been avoiding the eye doctor, dentist, primary care physician or other health care providers, it’s time to make an appointment.  Have you been neglecting to start your cholesterol medication or get your new glasses prescription?  Resolve to take the actions you know you need to improve your health. 

Improve Your Home’s Safety

To prevent falls, add new lighting, move cords out of hallways and walkways, make sure the edges of carpets and rugs are securely fastened.  Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and consider adding a carbon monoxide detector.  Consider having someone do repairs to loose floorboards or faulty wiring.  Have the heating system checked for safety if you didn’t get around to it before the holidays. 

Expand Your Social Network

Good mental health is as important as good physical health in many ways.  Maintaining relationships is an important part of keeping seniors mentally healthy and avoiding isolation which can lead to depression.  If a senior is becoming increasingly isolated, consider ways to connect: join a senior center, get active with a church or community group, or consider volunteering with a community organization.  If it is difficult to get out, consider inviting friends or family members over for visits more frequently, and use the phone or letters to keep connected.

By making health and wellness resolutions like these, seniors can be on their way to a healthy, happy New Year!

home heath care provider exerciseAccording to home health care provider experts, seniors should participate in mobility exercises on a regular basis.  A home health care provider can assist seniors with performing mobility exercises, which can lead to an improvement in overall functioning.

Mobility exercises should be part of every senior’s physical activity regimen.  Doing mobility exercises on a regular basis can help seniors maintain joint flexibility, decrease their risk of falling, reduce pain, increase self-confidence.  In addition, these exercises allow seniors to remain independent longer by enabling them to continue everyday activities that involve bending, lifting, walking and tasks like opening jars. Before beginning any exercise program, it is always best to check with a doctor or home health care provider about appropriate activities given the specifics of one’s health and mobility.

There are several different types of activities that can improve senior mobility.  Seniors may wish to consider the following:

Water Activities

Exercising in the water is a gentle form of exercise that is usually easier and less painful for people with joint pain or inflammation due to arthritis or fibromyalgia. Since water makes individuals naturally buoyant, there is less chance of falling, and weight and pressure is taken off the joints. If the water is warm, water exercise can improve blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and raising the senior’s body temperature.  The water level can be adjusted according to fitness level, with chest deep water offering a more strenuous work out than waist deep water.   Start by walking across the pool or around the perimeter, increasing repetitions as strength increases.

Chair Activities

Excising while seated in a chair can help mobility impaired or wheelchair bound seniors improve their mobility and can also be used as a warm up for individuals with greater mobility. In addition to activities done while seated, more able-bodied individuals can do exercises using the chair for balance or stability. Different types of chair exercises can be guided by specifically designed videos or TV programs, during classes for older adults provided at facilities like the YMCA, or by a home health care provider.

Stay Safe

It is important to be cautious when beginning an exercise program.  Begin gradually and increase the intensity and duration after building up stamina and skill. Dress in clothing that allows for unrestricted movement, with properly fitted shoes. Drink lots of water while exercising to avoid dehydration.  If exercising outside, beware of hazards like uneven surfaces, traffic, and obstacles like rocks and branches.  Make sure to exercise in a safe area and do not exercise outside if temperatures are extreme. In addition, all individuals – and particularly those with conditions including shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations, rapid unexplained weight loss, blood clots, hernia, pneumonia or other infections, or joint inflammation or pain should consult with a doctor or home health care provider before beginning an exercise program.  In addition, seniors should use extreme caution while exercising and individuals who experience dizziness, nausea, sudden pain or break out in a cold sweat while exercising should stop immediately.

By integrating mobility exercises into seniors’ regular routines, senior adults can expect to see improvement in their mobility and overall quality of life.

senior health care walkingEveryone knows they are supposed to exercise, but isn’t it too late to start an exercise routine once one is elderly, sick or under home health care?  The good news it is almost never too late to introduce some kind of exercise.  Obviously high-impact aerobic classes are not going to be a starting place for the elderly who have not previously been active, but walking for about 30 minutes a day is manageable for many seniors. Studies have shown that, even into one’s 90s, cardiovascular health and strength can be improved with regular physical activity.

Before beginning an exercise routine, it is best to check with a doctor about the best strategy for that individual and to make sure that any activity undertaken will be safe. Most people, especially older adults, are not getting enough regular exercise and often walking seems manageable since it is something most seniors are already doing each day to carry out the basic activities of daily living.  The key for those individuals is to increase the amount of time they are walking and make sure they are doing it daily.

The potential benefits of walking are many.  Senior health care studies have shown that:

Walking can increase one’s life span by promoting better health: Leading a sedentary lifestyle results in lower aerobic capacity and in loss of muscle.  Muscle loss affects flexibility and sense of balance which can increase the risk of falls. Walking as a form of exercise, helps combat these, and can also help maintain a lower blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure from developing or worsening.  Walking also seems to help stave off or lower the effects of osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, disabilities and weight gain.  Regular exercise diminishes the risk of premature death.

Walking can provide mobility and independence: Being able to get around can help give seniors a sense of purpose and helps them avoid feeling like a burden on others. The longer a senior is able to remain independent, possibly even continuing to work part-time or be involved in volunteer work, the better for his or her overall sense of purpose and feeling like a contributing member of society. Even if they rely on others for some assistance or have home health care assistance, being able to do some things on their own helps prolong a sense of independence, which in turn helps promote good mental health.

Walking promotes good mental health: Being mobile and having a sense of purpose can improve self-worth.  Together, these benefits can help seniors avoid feeling like a burden, which in turn helps seniors avoid falling into depression.

Walking can affect your brain: Regular exercise can promote better reasoning, memory and reaction time.

Given all of these benefits, walking can be a great way to promote all aspects of health and physical and mental wellbeing.  Whether it’s at a mall in combination with some shopping, out enjoying nature or walking in the community and connecting with others, getting out and walking is a great way to go for older adults.