More realistic resolutions for this bright, new year


Seniors playing chess

It's that time once again. You start a fresh, new year with promises of exercising more, eating healthy, dropping old habits, and so on. You're not alone. Half of all Americans admit to making some kind of New Year's resolution. Despite our good intentions to better ourselves, only about 8% are successful in achieving our goals. It's especially hard to change habits when we're older. The good news is, it's never too late to try and create a healthier and happier lifestyle.

That got us to thinking about more realistic ways that seniors can improve their lives and overall well-being as we enter 2020. These resolutions are easily attainable with just a little effort and many may even bring you closer to your family members.

Pass down a family recipe. Has your niece asked you for your apple pie recipe (with THAT amazingly flaky pie crust) at every family gathering? Make time to share – and actually show her how you do it by getting together and teaching her how to bake the pie. Recipes that are passed down from one generation to the next provide happy times gathered around the table together, and lasting memories of those who have passed.

Set realistic exercise goals. We all know exercise is essential for health. Everything is better with a companion, so don't go this alone. Share your goal with a friend or relative that will hold you accountable, and even participate with you. Your goal can be simple. Walk more. Purchase a pedometer and vow to walk a certain number of steps a day (2,000-2,500 steps = one mile).

Make healthier food decisions. Small changes can go a long way. Swap your daily dessert for healthy almond milk once in awhile, or add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. It's never too late to make smarter decisions about the foods we choose to fuel our bodies.

Learn how to use technology. How you have avoided it thus far, we don't know! It’s easier than ever to keep in touch with family and friends, even for elderly who tend to become socially isolated. According to Fast Company magazine, people age 55 to 74 are the fastest growing demographic on Twitter, with use in that age group increasing by 79% since 2012. Additionally, use in that age group has grown 46% on Facebook and 56% on Google+. If the internet and social media have eluded you, ask a friend, or even your grandson, to show you how to navigate. Staying connected, as we know, has many mental health benefits.

Make new friends. Speaking of connecting, senior loneliness and depression are certainly a reality. A lesson for all of us is to make new friends. Plan more activities with others, and in the process, you may learn new skills and adopt new hobbies, like cooking. Another helpful idea is to become a regular at the local senior center. If you are a caregiver, you can help your loved one by sharing in these activities. This is especially true if a loved one has trouble getting around by himself or herself.

As we begin 2020, use this bright new year to set mutual goals between yourself and a loved one – creating purpose and having fun, while building deeper relationships. Happy new year!