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The best New Year resolutions for older adults

5th February 2018

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

New Year’s resolutions may be a tradition that many are used to not keeping, however having clear goals for the year to come is important, as it not only highlights things that are important to people but also ways they can achieve them. Having positive personal ambitions is especially vital for older adults as it can help give structure to their week and give them something to strive for, as well as help keep them mobile. This is often a difficulty for those with limited mobility who find their movements restricted and rely on a stair lift, however with so many accessible pastimes, there should still be great things to achieve in the year ahead.

Revive an old friendship

Whether someone has been going through old photos or has recently got themselves on to a social media platform like Facebook, there are plenty of ways to connect with old acquaintances. Reviving a friendship that has been lost due to geographical or logistical reasons can often be very satisfying and rewarding, especially if they were a close friend previously.

Shasta from GirlFriend Circles understands the fear and trials that people face reconnecting with old friends and the site shared an inspiring experience from their counsellor Tricia Andor:

“’Losing touch with our friends’ is one of the most common regrets of people at the end of their lives. But here at Girl Friend Circles, we don't want that regret! We know that our relationships are investments-- and that we have to stay in touch with some of those people we've developed the most frientimacy with in order to keep the benefits of feeling supportive, safe, and satisfying.”

Learn a new skill

People continue to learn throughout their lives and retirement should not be any different. Picking up a skill, whether it is useful like continued cooking experience or a hobby such as a musical instrument is great for a multitude of reasons. Often the classes that teach you a new skill involve a social aspect so will help people meet like-minded folk. Often learning requires a higher brain function and continued brain training helps to keep diseases such as dementia at bay. If people choose for their skill to be physical, such as learning a dance or attending yoga lessons, this can help mobility along with their health and fitness.

For those who live by the mantra ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, Benny Hill, who is behind the website Fluent in Three Months, believes that people should try regardless:

“The ‘I’m too old’ excuse is one I hear a lot. I even said it to myself as a young adult, when I still only spoke one language fluently. Now, over a decade later, I’m fluent in seven languages.”

“Putting aside the fact that there’s no conclusive proof that children learn languages any better than adults, would it really matter if they did? Children are good at learning languages. They’re good at learning, full stop. But adults are absolutely not bad at learning. In fact, they’re extremely good at it. Just look around the web at all the people who have successfully reached fluency, even mastery, in another language well into adulthood with no previous foreign language experience.”

Reduce your alcohol

Enjoying a glass or two at an event or of an evening is unlikely to do any damage. However, some people drink far more regularly and in concerning quantities. Regardless of the health properties of alcohol, it does impair judgement and reduce balance, making it more likely that people who have consumed a lot of alcohol will fall and injure themselves. If someone is choosing to reduce their alcohol intake there are lots of ways they can help themselves, from volunteering to be a designated driver to frequenting different venues that they did not used to drink in.

Precision Nutrition ask about what drinking in moderation really means: “What is ‘moderation’, anyway? Definitions vary around the world, but according to the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, ‘moderate drinking’ means, on average: For women: up to seven drinks per week, with no more than three drinks on any single day. For men: up to 14 drinks per week, with no more than four drinks on any single day.

“Sure, you might know you’re not a binge drinker (that’s five or more drinks for men, or upwards of four for women, within two hours). But when was the last time you poured wine in a measuring cup, or tallied your total number of drinks at the end of the week, or calculated your weekly average in a given month, or adjusted your tally to account for that sky-high 9.9% ABV Strong Ale you love?”

Read more

A common New Year’s resolution is for people to read more. Though very broad, if people set themselves targets such as a new book every month or a certain number by the end of the year, they will find themselves more able to measure their achievement. Not only does this resolution involve quantity, it also takes into account quality. Reading more should encompass reading more books that challenge a person, whether because they are a different genre than they are used to or because they are more difficult literature.

For those lacking inspiration about what to read next, there are plenty of blogs that look into reviewing books, both modern and classic. Sarah’s Book Shelves is a great example and has a huge amount of reading guides for those feeling a little lost. If people wished to combine this hobby with a social element, joining a book club would help them stay motivated and choose books they would not normally read as well help them make new friends. 

Talk to family

People often berate themselves for not spending more time with family or loved ones, but unfortunately, life can get in the way. Resolving to spend more time with family in the new year is a positive step, especially considering the number of older adults who feel lonely or isolated. If due to geographical reasons, people are unable to see their family in person, carving out a set amount of time each week to phone or write a letter to a family member is a great way to stay connected. Though a letter may seem old-fashioned, receiving post is exciting and letters make lovely keepsakes that people can read over and over. 

Start a journal

Though journaling or keeping a diary may seem a thing of the past, many people are taking it up again in order to collect their thoughts and spend some time on their own wellness. Not only does journaling force people to spend a certain amount of time each day concentrating on their thoughts and feelings away from technology, but it also is a great way to look back on past experiences and revisit the memories afresh.

Many bloggers started their online presence as a journaling experiment and Elaine from My Little Gold has used it to monitor her progress struggling with depression:

“I've found journaling to be extremely important for myself and my mental health as it helps me de-stress from my day. It helps to get my feelings down on paper and off my chest. Also, I find it great to be able to look back on the pages to see how much I've grown. As someone with depression, I find that I'm in my own head a lot and it's so beneficial to put my thoughts on paper. It's kind of like getting something off your chest.

“I love a good old-fashioned pen and paper. I find it therapeutic to write and not type. Also sometimes I like to doodle or draw little things and it's tough on a computer. I've also created the 90 Second Journal that helps me journal with premade prompts. It helps make it quick and easy to journal every day for me, so I usually set aside 5 minutes when I get home from work or before I go to bed to crack it open and write down a few things.”

Experience your local culture

Many people never spend any time as a tourist in their hometown and are often surprised to find out local facts or legends that they have hitherto been unaware of. Visiting local museums, gardens and attractions not only helps get people out of doors but also allows them to meet new people in their area. It is also a great way to learn about local legends and famous people or events that happened near their hometown.

 

The National Galleries of Scotland is a fantastic resource for those who live in the North and they host many events for those interested in art. These events are popular with older adults such and are designed to be accessible. Grainne Rice, the Adult Programme Co-ordinator at the National Galleries of Scotland shared how they welcome the local community: 

“Much of the adult programme is scheduled during daytime making the majority of our talks and events age-friendly. These talks offer insights into our collection and exhibitions, providing a welcoming, sociable atmosphere for audiences tying into the healthy ageing agenda. Many of our talks offer an alternative way into a subject (for example birdwatching, Scottish football and others) connecting our artworks to people’s lives and other interests.

All of our talks and tours in the public are accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences through the induction loop system we use. We have a regular fortnightly early evening music concerts that are free and suitable for all ages, in addition to this we organise quarterly dementia-friendly daytime concerts which are free and suitable for anyone affected by dementia, their friends, relatives and supporters”. 

Review your finances

People need to understand their financial situation at any point during life, but this is especially important as people get older and pensions continue to change. Whether people feel the need to consult with a financial advisor or just asses their current situation, there is lots of useful information available. 

Travel More

Travel is a great way to discover new hobbies, and it has never been more accessible than now. Those who have chosen a New Year’s resolution that involves more travel may not even intend to go abroad. Staycations around the UK are equally exciting and eye-opening and there are often many places even within their own country that people have not experienced. 

Practice more kindness

This is a resolution that everyone should try and encompass, regardless of age and situation. Practising kindness is about the simple ways people can show goodwill towards others, often in small actions and gestures. It is a daily activity that is not only for those that the person knows but also strangers who may or may not thank the person for their act of kindness. Practising kindness is not about receiving praise or thanks, just about putting a little more kindness out there. Alexis Donkin is an intuitive life coach and an author who promotes kindness and loving-kindness: 

"Kindness is a way of thinking about the world, and while a lot of people think about it as something big, it doesn't have to be! Kindness can be smiling at everyone you interact with - from the cashier at the pharmacy, to the server at a restaurant, to the janitor at your work. It can be as simple as saying "please" and "thank you" to everyone you speak with on a regular basis, even children. Of course, it can also be paying for a stranger's lunch, volunteering at a local charity, or offering an ear to a grieving friend."

"There are many reasons why it's important to be kind to other people. Several of the reasons are actually self-serving! For one, people like other people who are kind. It makes everything easier for you when you're interacting with people in all types of situations! As they say, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar!"