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Want to Get the Most out of 2023? These 4 Steps Will Give You a Strong Foundation

December 30, 2022

If New Year’s resolutions are your thing, now’s the time to make your list! If you prefer to take a more gentle approach to self-improvement at the start of the year, perhaps think of the steps below as a form of self-care. Framing them that way can make it easier to stay the course — even after many of those traditional resolutions have fallen to the wayside.

Step #1: Be kind to your body.

This is something you can start doing right away. You don’t have to join a gym or hire a personal trainer. You don’t have to buy special equipment, either (though you may want to do some grocery shopping).

You know what your body needs to be its best:

  • Regular activity. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, the very thought of exercising may be enough to make you cringe. So, don’t think of it as exercise. Think of it as intentional movement. Start slowly and gradually build up to more movement.

    Walking is a good choice for many older adults, regardless of their fitness level. If you’re just starting out, begin by taking walks around the house, whether inside or out. If you’re already somewhat active, you can go on a longer walk or even a hike. Just be careful not to go so far that you have difficulty making it back home again.

    If walking isn’t a good option for you, then consider chair yoga, swimming or water aerobics. There are many possibilities, and you’ll find all sorts of ideas by searching online. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is an excellent place to start your search. You can also find instructions, videos and virtual classes online.

    The whole idea is to move more. Talk with your physician to see if there are any concerns or restrictions to bear in mind, and then get creative! As a bonus, when you’re more active physically, your brain will benefit, too. You may also notice improvements in your sleep, appetite and mental outlook.
  • Nutritious food. You already know the general categories of food to limit or avoid: fried foods, sugary food and drinks, highly processed foods and those high in saturated fat, to name several of the most common ones.

    There’s no need to give up your favorite guilty pleasures forever. But before you indulge, think about what’s best for your body. Then, ask yourself if you really want that (insert the food you’re considering), or would a more nutritious choice satisfy you?

    Cutting back on the not-so-healthful foods you eat will likely be enough to make a difference. Gradually, your palate may change, and you could even find you don’t especially want to eat some of those foods anymore.

    Sometimes older adults have dietary challenges, such as difficulty chewing, and there are specific nutritional needs for seniors to keep in mind. The Office of Disease Prevention offers some basic guidelines and additional resources for senior nutrition.

Quality sleep. Getting sufficient, quality sleep could be one of the kindest things you can do for your body. Ongoing sleep deprivation can raise your risk for a variety of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Nearly everyone has a bad night once in a while, but if you have insomnia on a regular basis, see your doctor. There may be a physical cause that can be treated. Increasing your activity level (but not before bedtime) and changing some of your eating habits might help, too.

The NIA offers helpful tips for sleeping well, along with information about specific sleep disorders and suggestions for managing sleep problems in people with dementia.

Step #2: Give yourself some more space.

“Happiness is a place between too little and too much.” — Finnish proverb

If you’ve lived in the same home for a decade or more, there’s a good chance you have belongings stashed away in closets and cabinets (and possibly the attic, basement or garage) that you no longer want or need.

Why not pass them along to somebody who can use them? You’ll be helping others and making it easier on yourself when the time rolls around for you to move — particularly if you’ll be moving to a smaller home.

Incidentally, we typically have an expert on downsizing come to Emerald Heights about once a year for a presentation, so if this sounds like something you’d be interested in attending, be sure to check out our events page from time to time. You can also ask to be placed on our mailing list, and we’ll let you know the next time we have one of these presentations.

Clearing out the clutter will probably make cleaning your home easier and faster. It might also make your home a healthier, safer and more enjoyable place to live.

Another benefit of decluttering your physical environment? The positive effects it can have on your mental well-being. A clutter-free home can make you feel calmer and more focused.  

A couple of common-sense tips to make decluttering more doable:

  1. You don’t have to do it all right away. Set aside a certain amount of time each day or each week, and then stick to your schedule.
  2. If it’s a big task and you feel overwhelmed — or if you aren’t able physically to do it by yourself — ask for or hire some help.

Step #3: Nurture your social network.

Maintaining at least a few close relationships can ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation, which tend to be more prevalent among older adults. Friends, family members and neighbors move away as the years pass, and it can be more difficult for seniors to meet new people.

If you have friends and family nearby and you enjoy their company, then make a point of staying in touch with them. Invite them for a meal or find something in the area to do together. Set up a time every few days or each week to call and catch up. You’ll all reap the benefits of being connected. 

If you’re up to meeting new people but aren’t sure how to go about it, try one or more of these:

  • See if there’s a senior center in your community. These are usually a safe place to meet others in your peer group.
  • Take some cooking or art classes if they’re offered at a local college or store.
  • Volunteer at a school, shelter, food bank or other charitable organization in your city.

It might seem daunting to put yourself out there, and it may take a few attempts, but with the right attitude and a little persistence, you just might find it’s fun to expand your social circle. 

Step #4: Get a financial physical.

Much like a medical exam can set your mind at ease about your physical health, taking a close look at your financial status can also alleviate concerns.

Whether you work with a financial planner or handle your finances yourself, plan some time to review all of your accounts and documents. These can include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Loans and mortgages
  • Investment accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts
  • Estate documents and living trusts

It’s also a good idea to see what the market value is of any properties you own and have other assets appraised.

If you normally stay on top of your financial affairs, this review will probably be quick and easy. If it’s been a while since you last took stock, the review could take considerably longer. Either way, it’ll be a worthwhile endeavor. It’s an opportunity to evaluate whether you want to make any changes, including changes in beneficiaries on your insurance policies and estate documents.

Will Your Path Lead to Emerald Heights?

In a community like ours, being good to yourself and getting the most out of each day is easy — and a lot of fun! There’s more time to devote to all the things you enjoy doing and vibrant, friendly neighbors to engage with.  

Independent living in Redmond took a step forward 30 years ago when Emerald Heights became the first senior living community to welcome residents on the Eastside. We’re delighted to say that some of the earliest residents we welcomed to Emerald Heights are still living here today.

We invite you to visit us and see why they’ve been happy here for so long. Come take a look around, and we believe you’ll discover how much you could love living here too. Contact us and we’ll gladly set up a time for you to experience Emerald Heights for yourself.