Healthy Habits for the New Year
Alas, 2021 is upon us – meaning it’s that time again to create another set of resolutions for another new year!
With the recent events that have transpired in the last year due to COVID-19, the increased social isolation has had unfortunate effects on the physical and mental health of many people, especially the elderly. The good news, however, is that it is never too late to get things back on the right track this January with a few simple habits that may have slipped through the cracks in the past few months.
To kick off the New Year, here are 4 Healthy Habits for Seniors:
Exercise Your Brain
There’s no doubt that you’ve heard numerous times about the benefits that exercise has on the body; however, this is only half of the equation. Keeping the brain fit and in shape by learning something new is just as important.
Keeping the brain busy by learning and doing new things offers a variety of benefits, especially for those in their golden years. Learning new tasks facilitates concentration, boosts memory, and improves mood and overall well-being. Some examples of new activities to learn and do include working on crossword puzzles, picking up a new creative hobby, taking an online class, or delving into a new piece of technology. In fact, studies have shown that in 2021, seniors are starting to use mobile devices and other forms of tech more and more to stay connected with friends and family.
A good diet is always fundamental to good health. Eating the right foods that are high in nutrients and vitamins provides seniors with the sustenance needed to keep them feeling great, both physically and mentally. Studies have shown that a good diet in later years reduces the risk of conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain forms of cancer. Additionally, a healthy diet ensures that the body stays energized longer to ensure that seniors are getting the most out of their waking hours.
Water is the element of life, and for good reason. Over 70% of our bodily makeup consists of water as you may already know! Yet, even though many of us have been staying at home all day, most people are still not drinking enough water per day. The risk of dehydration is further exacerbated by the other factors like eating foods high in sodium and medications with diuretic side effects.
One way to assist with drinking adequate amounts of water is to add some variety by adding lemon to your glass of water. Drinking fresh lemon water provides many advantages to seniors. Lemon water facilitates the production of bile, which aids digestion, and also helps to cleanse the kidneys, liver, and blood. Lemons are a great source of calcium, potassium, and Vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron and allows more oxygen to flow to the muscles and the brain. Lemons also assist regulating the bowels, which can prevent both constipation and diarrhea, as well as digestive problems like heartburn and bloating. Not to mention that lemon water tastes great, and is a good way to spice up the taste of regular water!
Feeling isolated and lonely has severe negative effects on seniors. A recent BYU study compared the effects of loneliness to the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being an alcoholic. Increased social distancing during the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a decrease in social interaction for many people, which is a dangerous concoction for loneliness and depression.
All is not lost, however. Thanks to the power of technology, socializing with friends, family, and others with common interests from the comfort of your own home has never been easier. Virtual meetups via apps such as Zoom and Facetime skyrocketed in 2020. A number of families have even reported celebrating major family events with one another like Christmas and Thanksgiving through their phones and laptops without needing to set one foot through their doors.
Technology has also made efforts to become more accessible to seniors within the past few years, adding features such as speech recognition software, enhanced visuals for the visually impaired, and sponge-tipped stylus pens for those with arthritic hands that have difficulties with standard touchscreens.
There has never been a better time than the present to reach out to your friends and loved ones. The technology is already at your fingertips – simply schedule it and make it happen!