Ringing in the new year is always a great opportunity to evaluate your current practices and find room for improvement. The trick to setting good new year goals is maintaining a good balance between too easy and impossible. Here are several attainable steps you should consider adding to your list.
1. Organize your medical records.
Maintain all records, including doctors, past illnesses, surgeries, hospitalizations and medications. Organize all health insurance cards and Medicare/Medicaid information somewhere easy to find and access.
2. Choose a primary care physician you trust.
Ideally, you'll be involved with your primary care physician for a long time, so it's important you find one you like and trust with your long-term health.
3. Eat right.
Good nutrition plays a huge part in aging well. While there are countless methods and diets and plans out there, a healthy eating plan normally emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk or milk products, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Older adults, particularly those with chronic conditions, have specific nutritional needs. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you manage your unique needs. Check with your doctor for recommendations on a nutritionist or dietitian that fits your life.
4. Keep moving.
Regular exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular, metabolic and psychological health as well as decrease the risk of falling, depression and high blood pressure. Be sure to start slow and build up to stay safe and always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
5. Write down your wishes.
If you are seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself, make sure your caregivers know how you'd like to be treated. Five Wishes, linked below, offers an easy to read legal document that can help you get started.
6. Create a safe haven in your home.
Falls are a leading cause of injury in adults 65 and older. Review our fall prevention infographic and consider a home health assessment to make sure your home minimizes the risk of falling.
7. Manage your stress.
Long-term stress can damage brain cells, leading to depression, which is one of the most dangerous effects in older people. Follow these tips to maintain and eliminate stress for you and your caregiver.
8. Manage your money.
Learn what resources you can use to help you afford health care and how to best use your savings to live independently. DRA's Resource Directory lists financial resources you can use as a starting point. AARP offers a free tool to determine if you need a financial advisor.
9. Create a support network.
Have a list of whom to notify if you get sick or have to be hospitalized. Think about who will care for your pets, water your lawn and check your mail if you're out of commission for a few days. Having these individuals identified will help alleviate your stress and allow you to focus on your health and recovery.
10. Consider home heatlh.
According to the AARP Public Policy Institute, 89 percent of people aged 50 and older want to remain in their homes as they age, including receiving treatment there. If you or your loved one is recovering from illness or surgery, ask your doctor about home health. Take the quiz below to see if it might be the answer.