New Year’s Resolutions for Seniors Wishing to Age in Place

Welcome to 2023! It’s the start of a new year, a new month, and it’s time for new resolutions. Now, while anyone can set goals or make good old-fashioned New Year’s resolutions, seniors tend to struggle the most. Goal setting can seem irrelevant later in life, but research begs to differ. Instead, goal setting can be a factor in slowing down aging, with a sense of purpose driving healthier behavior leading to a longer life.

A recent Health and Retirement Study, backed by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration, on 13,159 adults over the age of 50 “that looked for associations between a sense of purpose and mortality across gender, race, and ethnicity, found that those with the strongest sense of purpose lowered their risk of death by 15.2%.” The findings also revealed that “women lowered their risk of all-cause mortality by 34% compared to men whose risk was reduced by 20%.”

So, instead of brushing the idea of resolutions under the rug, it’s time to get started. Below are seven goals to help kickstart 2023 planning even if the year is already underway.

In-Home Check Up: Fall Prevention and Safety Awareness

One in four older adults over 65 falls every year, and that risk increases with age. Regardless of where an older adult resides, it’s important to check their surroundings for hazards before a fall or injury occurs. Start by eliminating items that are easy to trip over, like rugs and small pieces of furniture. Make sure walking paths throughout the flow of a living space are clear. It may also be helpful to consider installing grab bars and extra lighting to illuminate specific areas, so it’s easier to see while navigating through a space.

Outside of fall prevention checks, other items that should be reviewed annually include in-home safety items like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are installed and working correctly. In addition, if a senior lives alone, it could be wise to install a security system or consider purchasing a medical alert system.

Get Moving and Stay Moving!

Staying active is vital to keeping the mind and body healthy and alert at any age. Unfortunately, many older adults avoid exercise because it can seem daunting to keep up with, or maybe it’s just because they can’t move like they used to. It all comes down to managing expectations. Exercise doesn’t have to be an intense boot camp or heavy lifting session. Gentle yoga, classes in the pool, or a walking group will do. Low-impact exercises can help immensely with balance and help avoid the risk of falling or other injuries. The goal is just to get out there and move the body.

The Importance of Organizing Medical Records

Nothing says a fresh start quite like getting organized. January is the perfect time to organize medical records, medications, and get all annual appointments on the calendar, so nothing is missed. It can also be helpful to have a directory of all healthcare providers and their role in a person’s care.

Pro Tip: This can be a great time to incorporate potential caregivers, children, or individuals who are named as power of attorney for health care so that if they ever need to step in and help, they know not only where everything is but also have a clearer understanding of a person’s overall health needs.

Clean Out Your Home or Living Space

Feeling bogged down by all the extra stuff lying around? Do you need to clean out a closet or two and eliminate items that haven’t been touched in years? Now is the time to remove clutter and reorganize! An easy way to get started is by making three piles, the items that are staying, those for donation, and what will be thrown out. Then it’s just a matter of organizing what’s left behind, removing the trash, and dropping off those donations. Decluttering an environment has been proven to help people feel less stressed and more in control, boosting mental and physical health. So, don’t put this one off!

Master a New Skill

Why not resolve to learn or do something new this year? It could be a new hobby such as crocheting, gardening, and cooking, or simple activities like walking, reading, or doing the daily crossword puzzle. Learning new activities and creating new habits provides a healthy outlet that reduces stress, helps keep your brain sharp and provides fulfilling use of extra free time.

Make New Friends

Socializing or making new friends could go hand in hand with a new hobby or exercise. Research shows that socially active seniors have better cognition and lower risks for depression, loneliness, and social isolation. Pencil some new activities into your calendar and get out there!

Get Your Affairs in Order

Last but certainly not least is updating (or creating) your estate plan. Getting everything in order helps avoid the dreaded crisis situation. Setting up your estate plan means having a roadmap in place for what happens if you are incapacitated, need help with your finances, or need someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. It also expresses your wishes for your legacy after you pass away. We know that no one likes to plan for their death or incapacity, but having a plan, is better for all parties involved. Grieving is hard enough. Why would anyone want their family to fight with each other or waste unnecessary time in court?

These are a few ideas to help spur on some new resolutions as the new year kicks off. Whether big or small, the Absolute Trust Counsel team encourages all older adults to focus on goals, create positive change, and speak to important passions and interests. Happy New Year!

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