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You Say You Want a Resolution

Start 2020 With 20 Fun and Life-Changing Habits

Start 2020 With 20 Fun and Life-Changing Habits

Don’t look now, but Father Time has launched us into a brand-new decade. Whether the 2020s turn out to be as “Roaring” as the 1920s remains to be seen. But if you’re ready to charge into them with a plan of attack like a lion, there’s a much better chance that you won’t end up with a “great depression” when they’re over.

Resolutions Provide Purpose

Setting resolutions and goals on a regular basis actually has practical value for seniors and can have a positive impact on overall health. Rush University has conducted studies that show people who view life with a sense of purpose and maintain a high level of self-discipline are two to four times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Also, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that older adults with a solid sense of purpose tend to retain stronger hand grips and walking speeds – key indicators of a delayed aging process.

What’s more, writing down your thoughts and desires can make a big difference in your general outlook on life. It’s a way to enter the year with an upbeat attitude. And yes, there are studies to support the benefits of a positive attitude as you age. A Columbia University study showed that people who are enthusiastic and content are less likely to develop heart disease.

So with all of those benefits, why not consider trying a few of these 20 fun New Year’s resolutions:

1. TRY A NEW HEALTHY FOOD EACH WEEK

Think you’ve tasted every food on the planet? Think again. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, there are 250,000 -300,000 species of edible plants on earth. Don’t worry about trying to eat all of them. The fact is, farmers only grow 150-200 species. Many of them, however, are not your garden variety lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, etc. and they’re quite delicious! Talk to your chef or Life Enhancement Director (LED) about introducing jicama, star fruit or some other new items to your meals. You might learn to like them as much as Brussel sprouts.

2. LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY

Psychology Today claims that learning can help reduce cognitive decline associated with aging. It can also help older adults deal with depression and poor self-image. Learn more about a topic you already enjoy or dig into something totally new.Play a musical instrument. Start a coffee chat group with fellow residents. Get into gardening. Or learn a new board game with friends. Your LED will be happy to help you branch out.

3. PICK UP A NEW HOBBY

A study in the National Institutes on Aging claims that participating in hobbies can lower your risk of developing dementia and other mental health problems. A recent survey of older adults found that the most popular hobbies for people ages 65 and older are walking and jogging, outdoor maintenance, and playing sports. Every Sunshine Retirement community has plenty of options for you to try.

4. MAKE YOUR SURROUNDINGS SAFER

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 3 adults over the age of 65 falls each year, and many of those falls are preventable. Here’s a quick refresher on how to make your area safer:

  • Remove loose throw rugs from high traffic areas.
  • Fix the height of the bed so it’s easier to get out of.
  • Keep a working flashlight on the nightstand; check the batteries periodically.
  • Put eye-level decals or reflectors on glass and screen doors.
  • Telephones should be in each main room, and they should be positioned low enough to be reached from the floor in case of a fall.

5. GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR INNER HEMINGAY – WRITE!

You have seen and learned so much in life – why not put it down on paper? Writing can be a fun, fulfilling experience. Research shows that writing about the many positive things in your life can help you avoid depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Write a book, pen a poem, or try writing some comedy. Even better, write down some of the memorable stories from your life. Some topics you may want to explore include:

  • What are the experiences that have made you who you are?
  • What are your favorite memories?

Journaling can also be an enjoyable and healthy experience. Pick up a pen and give it a try!

6. PLAY MORE

In the immortal words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing boosts your energy and vitality, and can even improve your body’s resistance to disease.

Join a Bunco or Bridge group. Or see if your community has a Wii or Play Station game console.If you can’t find a group that interests you, start one. Spread the word that you’d like to host a game night, and you might be surprised how popular it becomes. With a little practice, you might be able to challenge your grandkids someday.

7. TAKE UP A DANCE OR EXERCISE CLASS

Older adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They also need to engage in muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days each week. A dance, yoga or exercise class at your Sunshine community can help you get all the exercise you need in a safe and fun environment. If you’re not already participating at your Sunshine community, what are you waiting for?

8. READ MORE BOOKS

Reading enhances memory, sharpens decision-making skills, reduces stress, and can even help you sleep better. To make it even more interesting, join or create a book club.

9. BE MORE GRATEFUL – COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Gratitude improves both physical health and psychological health, enhances empathy, reduces aggression, boosts self-esteem, bolsters mental strength, and it can also help you sleep. One easy way to nurture gratitude and count your blessings is to keep a basic gratitude journal. Even something as simple as writing down one thing you are grateful for every day can go a long way in helping you see things all around you for which to be grateful. If you want to take it a step further, write down something you want to become more thankful for. If you’re consistent, it won’t take long for your outlook on life to improve.

10. SPEND MORE TIME IN NATURE

Are you noticing a theme here? Getting outdoors helps you get the fresh air and exercise you need to stay healthy. Spending time in nature also helps you connect with the world around you. Luckily, most Sunshine communities have beautiful gardens for residents to enjoy and frequently take outings to parks and natural areas. Grab your coat and hat, and take a deep breath.

11. ENJOY THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE

Sometimes the smallest things can bring about the greatest pleasures. Embrace the smell of coffee in the morning, the hug of someone you love, or the sound of a favorite tune.

12. BE CHARISMATIC

Some people are naturally charismatic. The rest of us, not so much. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take steps to exude more positive energy. How? Stand tall, have confidence, look people in the eye, and smile more often. Confident people will often admit that they acted confident long before they felt confident.

If you want to try new things this year or meet new people, don’t let a lack of confidence stand in your way. Raise your chin, straighten your back and walk boldly into whatever new endeavor you want to try. If the confidence isn’t there, it’ll catch up. Remember, the only thing worse than failure is regret. Don’t regret not trying your best self this year!

13. EAT SMART

Everyone knows that it’s wise to eat healthy foods and watch your weight. But did you know there are food items that are good for your brain? Blueberries, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, and nuts are a few easy-to-find foods that can boost your brain power. And guess what? Dark chocolate is a brain-boosting food as well!

14. VOLUNTEER TO READ TO CHILDREN

Connecting with children is a great way to energize your life. Reading to youngsters or helping them learn to read can be just about as much fun as you will ever have. Ask your LED about how you can volunteer at your local library or invite children into your community for a storybook session.

15. VOLUNTEER AT YOUR LOCAL MUSEUM, THEATER, OR CHURCH

Older adults who volunteer in their communities report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations, and greater well-being. It really is better to give than to receive! Give your time to causes and communities you love, and the benefits will be extraordinary.

16. TREAT YOURSELF TO A NEW WELLNESS ACTIVITY ONCE A MONTH

It’s never too late to take better care of yourself. Whether you’re trying yoga or Tai Chi, scheduling a massage, or trading your coffee for green tea, there are countless ways to enhance your wellness. If you try an activity and decide it isn’t for you, try another (and another!) until you discover something you love. Many people who give up on wellness activities simply stop too soon. Be patient and stay determined. Most Sunshine communities are kicking off the year with a 21-Day Wellness Challenge. So, it’s the perfect time to get started.

17. EMBRACE YOUR ROOTS WITH A DNA ANCESTRY TEST

DNA testing can help you discover your family roots and understand where you came from. There are many services available (often at a cost) to receive a comprehensive report of your genealogy, ethnicity or family tree. A few of these services include:

Who knows? You may be descended from royalty or another race. Along the same line, maybe this is the year you should reach out to a distant relative or family member with whom you have always wanted to connect. Send an email or make a phone call. Work on your family tree or work on documenting your family history. This can become a fun project of its own and one that your own ancestors will surely cherish.

18. MAKE A NEW FRIEND ONCE A MONTH

Friendships can have greater effects on your health and well-being than the relationship with your family. If you’re nervous about doing this one-on-one, consider simply meeting someone for coffee. If you are feeling lonely, chances are someone else in your community is feeling lonely, too. Find each other and start a friendship! And here’s a helpful hint: Don’t limit new friendships to people who look or act just like you or share the same viewpoints. Some of the greatest friendships are formed by the attraction of opposites.

19. LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC MORE OFTEN

Music is good for your health. It has the power to bring back fond memories and transport you — even momentarily — to another time and place. It can make you feel relaxed from head to toe or it can get your blood pumping and make you want to get up and dance. Few other experiences in life have the wide array of effects on us that music has and experiencing it live enhances all of those positive results. Whether you want to destress, get motivated or forget your troubles, go enjoy the next live musical performance at your community. And get there early so you can grab a front-row seat.

20. SET ASIDE ONE HOUR A DAY TO ACHIEVE A DREAM

Write the Great American Novel. Paint a self-portrait. Learn a new language. it’s always a great day to do something you’ve always wanted to do. The good news is – even if you only spend an hour or so on your dream – by the end of the new year, you’ll have contributed a healthy amount of time on your project and made good progress. So, don’t delay! Identify your dream project and start working on it. You won’t regret it.

Share Your Resolutions and Stick with Them

Each new year provides an exciting opportunity to try new things and establish positive habits. But the best thing is, you don’t actually need a new year or a new decade to make a fresh start. Every day is an opportunity to do something amazing and rewarding!

Of course, starting 20 new resolutions all at once is a lot to ask. So, pick the ones that are most important to you, then share your resolve with friends and family members. They’ll support you and help you get the results you’re hoping for. Later, take on a few more and see how much easier they are to manage.

Day by day, step by step, let’s make the 2020s your decade of resolutions that become revolutions!

This blog was first published in Sunshine Retirement Living, January, 2020. Additional content provided by usnews.com and medfordleas.org.