12 December 2019

Top New Year's resolutions for older people

grandmother with child

The New Year is fast approaching and, as such, is a time of reflection for many of us. How happy are we with the past year? What would we like to achieve over the next 12 months? These are typical questions to ask oneself and often end up resulting in New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are, of course, normally personal and specific to the individual in question but there are some more general goals that can apply to those of us in older age. So, if you are struggling to think of how you want to change things up in the coming year, consider our below tips for the top New Year’s Resolutions for older people.

What are the best New Year’s resolutions for older people?

Be active a little each day

older men and women talking while walking outside

As we reach older age, staying fit and healthy can become more difficult, especially for those of us with limited mobility and stairlifts at home. But there are things that can be done and it’s important that we remain as active as possible. If you are lacking energy, it might be because you are not getting enough exercise and staying fit will also help your body stay in good health for as long as possible. Exercise doesn’t need to be over the top, however, or involve going to a gym. By simply going for a short walk each day – perhaps around your local neighbourhood, to the shops, or around a nearby park – you can get the exercise your body needs.

Lizzie Benton, a health, fitness, and wellbeing blogger at Lizaboo (who also volunteers with the elderly), has offered her tips for staying active: “Doing gentle exercises can still provide just as much impact, plus a little exercise every day can really help to lift your mood. For people with limited mobility or physical limitations, it's about finding an exercise they enjoy. After all, when you enjoy something, you're far more likely to do it. Swimming is a wonderful exercise for limited mobility, as well as more gentle forms of yoga.”

Take a look at this guide to low impact and easy exercise from the NHS for more inspiration.

Spend more time with the grandchildren

older person painting with grandchildren

Spending time with those nearest and dearest to us certainly become more and important the older we get. Often, this means carving out time to enjoy with our beloved grandchildren. If you are looking back on the past year and wishing you had spent more time with the little ones, make a firm resolve to achieve this next year. Speaking to the parents, tell them that you would love to be more involved in their lives and would welcome any advice about how time together can be made. This could simply be babysitting once a month, picking the kids up from school on a Friday for semi-regular weekends together, or even enjoying time together in the kitchen creating the best pancakes to make with grandkids.

Rachel from the family lifestyle blog Rachel Bustin offers her advice for parents who want to spend more time with grandchildren: “As a parent of two young children, I welcome any help from the grandparents. Even if it's just for an hour to come over and read to them or do some colouring. It then frees me up to get my jobs done around the house or to pop to the shops.

“My advice to grandparents is to just ask if they can help in any way. Don't be afraid of interfering. Sometimes new parents can be struggling and afraid to ask for help. My children’s Nan loves the chance to get out of her flat to come over and look after the girls. We have a plan in place for her to do this a couple of times a week so she's not alone all the time, and it's something for her to look forward to.”

Sarah from the blog In Full Flavour, often writes about the importance of family time and spoke to us about her tips for grandparents: “If you have a hobby that you enjoy doing, why not get your grandchildren involved in it? Little ones love activities such as gardening, painting, and crafts, so it could be an enjoyable way for you to spend time together. Also, never be afraid to ask parents if you can arrange a visit or time to get together. Most parents are just juggling so much these days, it’s actually appreciated if you take charge and initiate the meetups.”

From a parent’s perspective, Sarah says: “Offers of having the grandkids for even an hour or two will always be much appreciated! It doesn’t always have to be an overnight stay for parents to just have a bit of time off and recharge their batteries.”

Target a healthier diet

healthy cooking for older people

One resolution that is on the minds of many, no matter our age, is targeting a healthier diet. But this is never more important than when we reach a mature age. You might be thinking that in your senior years, now is the time to indulge and enjoy all those yummy treats. While enjoying food is important, it’s good to strike the right balance, especially for those of us struggling with our health. If you want to spend more time with family or remain able to enjoy certain hobbies for longer, keeping a nutritious diet will be a must.

Denise from the healthy cooking blog Easy and Delish, spoke to us about her tops for targeting a healthier and more nutritious diet: “I think the best approach is to always to make better food choices: eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins, and drinking plenty of water. Plus, everything should be consumed in moderate portions! Sugar is something that should be avoided or consumed least of all.”

Denise also recommended two of her favourite healthy dessert options as it’s important that you still look forward to your meals: “I would recommend these Chocolate chip coconut cookies that are sugar-free and low carb -- as well as this Vegan Chocolate Pot de Creme made with dark chocolate and avocados, sweetened with dates.” 

So, take a look at your current diet and look for ways to add healthy foods and meals to your menu. From more vegetables and less salt to items rich in protein instead of too many sugary treats, there are many ways this can be achieved. For a few tips when it comes to your morning meal, take a look at our article of healthy breakfast ideas. Making one meal a day a haven for nutritious sustenance will go a long way to achieving your goals.

Stimulate the mind

thought bubble and bulb

It’s not only important that we keep our bodies in good shape but that we look after our minds as well. Old age has the habit of deteriorating our mental faculties so it’s important we stimulate our brains as much as possible. Think of it as exercise for the mind! There are lots of ways this can be achieved, from aiming to read more books on a consistent basis, putting together jigsaws, or even doing the weekly crossword puzzle! And with all the quiz shows that are on TV these days, you can simply try playing along with these to test your knowledge and memory. Another top tip is to try learning something new as your brain will have to work to hone this new skill – such as playing an instrument.

Put an action plan together, identify the ways in which you would like to achieve this, and then have fun with it! You could even try some intelligently designed games for tackling memory loss, such as the mobile game Lumosity. The team behind the game say: “Just a few minutes a day for three brain games — that’s all it takes. Every day, you get a fresh workout to keep you challenged.” Take a look at their website for more details.

Manage your stress

peaceful older person

Stress and a frail heart are not a good combination, so if you are finding yourself tense and overwhelmed with stress, you might want to consider taking action. The first step would be to identify what the causes of your stress are and see if there are ways these can be negated or prevented altogether. If nothing can be done to fix a specific issue, try and incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily life. This could include something as simple as carving out time every day to read in peace or learning the art of meditation. Meditation can help you manage your stress and deal with unwanted thoughts. Have a look online, ask around, and see if there are any courses in your local area.

Be vocal about your mental health

older woman with depression

Depression and other associated mental health issues can become a factor when we advance in age. For those of us who have lost spouses or live far away from relatives, feelings of isolation are not uncommon. Left unchecked, these thoughts can fester and make us depressed. The important thing, however, is to not suffer alone or pretend everything is okay when it is not. Speak to your family about how you are feeling, let them know that being alone is becoming more difficult or that it might be nice to be closer to them. Speak to friends as well and your doctor, as there will be advice available.

Lizzie from Lizaboo has written a lot about positivity and wellbeing on her blog and has offered her advice for older people who struggle to talk about their feelings: “Talking to others is the most important thing for anyone when they're struggling to remain positive. This can be especially hard when you don't often see friends or family due to limited mobility. As well as making regular dates for friends or family to visit, look into local groups that can help support you further, in many areas there are independent charities who can offer counselling or a volunteer befriender who is simply there to be your friend when you need it the most.”

If you don’t speak up, help will be unlikely to find you. So, make a firm resolve to be better at communicating this coming year, you never know the positive things that can come about as a result.

New Year’s resolutions older people should try

  • Be active for 10 minutes a day
  • Spend more time with the grandchildren
  • Target a healthier diet
  • Stimulate the mind
  • Manage your stress
  • Be vocal about your mental health

There you have it. If you are looking for inspiration for your New Year’s resolutions, consider some of the above. If it’s never too late to achieve goals and better ourselves; all it takes is a little dedication and resolve. Happy New Year!

For more tips and advice, make sure to read some of the other guides on our news and advice page.