Cliff learned firsthand what it means to reverse expectations about aging and later life. When he moved in with his nephew’s family, they expected him to stay in the house most of the time, read books, watch TV, build puzzles, and be around to let the cat in and out. He was as surprised by their expectations as they were to hear that he planned to keep playing golf every week, meeting with his poker group, and dating women from his senior center community. He told them he’d find a way to get to all of these activities, even though he can no longer drive due to his eyesight.
Cliff’s desire to do the things he loves is inspiring at any age. The best healthy living tip for seniors is to stay connected to the activities you love. If you’re feeling resistance because of your own or someone else’s expectations, it’s important to explore that resistance. Ultimately, it’s important to make sure that your passions and your commitment to a healthy, active, connected lifestyle come out on top. Here’s how:
- Practice acceptance and pro-active self-care
- Prioritize socialization over isolation
- Stay on top of healthy lifestyle practices
- Stay active
- Do what you love
Seniors’ Best Tips for Healthy Living
It’s a great idea for caregivers to work with their aging loved ones to find the best healthy living practices suited to the individuals. In many cases, caregivers and older adults can all adopt routines for a healthy lifestyle and feel empowered by self-care together. Here is a closer look at some healthy living tips for seniors.
Practice Acceptance and Pro-Active Self-Care
We go through changes, big and small, throughout our lives. Our later years represent a continuation of those changes, but it’s important that we develop critical and thoughtful awareness of this phase in life. In that way, we can embrace the challenges and the opportunities. We can reach out for the help and the resources to improve our quality of life.
The more an aging adult can accept the particular challenges they now face, the more they’ll be able to recognize the real opportunities before them too. And the better they’ll be able to say “yes” to the services and resources designed specifically to empower aging adults.
Prioritize Socialization over Isolation
One of the biggest challenges seniors face is isolation—whether they live alone or they live in a community but feel out of touch with their experiences and life changes. And isolation can influence physical, mental, and emotional complications. While the best approaches to socialization and community-building will depend on the individual, we have some diverse suggestions for how to get more involved:
- Use a well-rounded approach to combat isolation.
- Find local social groups that are interest-based and interactive.
- Encourage healthy relationship building and evolution.
- Explore virtual senior centers and social media opportunities.
- Check out social day programs in your community.
- Know that there are friendly, welcoming hotlines available for older adults who are lonely or in crisis.
Stay on Top of Healthy Lifestyle Practices
Your body evolves and transforms throughout your life and so should your routines for healthy living. Now is a great time to review an aging loved one’s diet plan, exercise habits, posture and balance, and mental acuity. We suggest this review not so you can determine what’s wrong—rather, so you can identify areas of life that could benefit from a refreshing approach. Here are some helpful ways to encourage healthy habits in different areas of life:
- Consider a new approach to senior nutrition and meal preparation.
- Incorporate more brain foods for memory and mental health.
- Try some exercises for healthy cognition and memory.
- Find creative ways to expand the senses.
- Help an older adult practice exercises designed specifically for balance.
- Be mindful of difficult challenges such as depression.
If you or a loved one has fallen out of practice with an active lifestyle, it can feel extra challenging to get involved again. But the good news is that there are plenty of fun ways to do so, and that makes the transition much more enjoyable. A lot of retired adults find themselves with more free time than they’ve known throughout their lives, and exciting physical activity is a great way to fill that time. And it helps to fulfill all of these five healthy living tips at once! Here are some active opportunities all over the map:
- Experiment with movement and music together for fitness.
- Let swimming and water aerobics open the door for low-impact exercise.
- Practice chair yoga for mindfulness and gentle movement.
- Help an older adult get involved with group fitness classes.
- Discover how to adapt fitness routines for particular limitations.
- Learn how to practice tai chi.
Do What You Love
Cliff is leading the way by committing to the personal and community activities that he loves. We all have favorite pastimes as well as those opportunities we’ve always hoped to get involved in at some point. It’s true that we may face new and unique challenges later in life, but that doesn’t mean we’ve reached a dead end—not by a long shot. This is a perfect time to revive old passions and kickstart new ones too. Help your aging loved one to get in touch with what they really love to do, and help them to get involved with those interests. Here are some ideas that we’re excited about:
- Practice telling and writing your life story.
- Find local gardening opportunities for fresh food and flowers, and make it a cooperative experience with a caregiver and senior working together.
- Take a class and learn a new instrument.
- Try video games for a mental workout!
- Get extra creative with arts and crafts.
How a Caregiver Can Help with an Older Adult’s Healthy Lifestyle
The trick to healthy living later in life is being willing to open up to the nuances of the challenges and opportunities before you. If you’re a caregiver of an aging loved one, you can fill an important role by encouraging them to accept the changes they experience and to look for the solutions and strategies that will help them to lead a bright and thriving life. For our aging loved ones—indeed, for all of us—saying “yes” to the things we love to do is one of the best forms of self-care.
Institute on Aging is committed to helping older adults and caregivers with healthy living tips every day. It starts with our home care and support services and extends to broad programs and resources for our diverse community. Get in touch with us today for more information.