We all know the basics of a healthy lifestyle: regular exercise, a balanced diet, seven to eight hours of sleep every night, and stress reduction. These become especially important as we grow older, our bodies and minds needing more support from our lifestyles than ever before. However, it’s not all about the big, obvious health habits. There are smaller, unexpected ways that you can boost your health as a senior, and it’s worth looking into these as well.
The older you get, the harder household chores like landscaping and cleaning will seem. These can often take a big toll on your back and joints, and many tasks — such as cleaning high kitchen cabinets or mopping floors — can be a fall or slip hazard. Not to mention that these chores take up hours of your retirement time, which could be better spent enriching your life.
For your own good, just skip these tiresome tasks altogether and start hiring help. Most homeowners can expect to spend between $120 and $250 on average for this service, which can be a worthy price for your time and safety.
Pick Up a Hobby
Hobbies are great for your mental health. Many hobbies, especially ones with creative or physically active elements, have been proven to help reduce anxiety and decrease stress levels. Hobbies are particularly crucial for seniors, who often find themselves with a lot of extra free time in retirement and no plan with what to do with it. Before you think of turning on the TV, pick up an instrument, paintbrush, or set of garden shears (and don’t forget the gloves!).
Get More Green Into Your Life
Contact with nature is scientifically proven to make us physically and mentally healthier. Benefits include reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, better sleep, and lower blood pressure, but much of these benefits come down to lowered stress. With an estimated one in five older adults experiencing a mental health problem, small health boosters like this can make a huge difference. Try to take in some nature every day, whether it’s going for a walk in your local park (or even a leafy neighborhood) or bringing in some houseplants to brighten up your home.
Learn a New Language
Generally speaking, learning is great for the brain. Learning anything new can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia by keeping your brain active. There is also some evidence that bilingualism can also help ward off dementia, although this applies more to those who have learned a language to a proficient level earlier in life. That said, if you’re going to learn something new, a language is a wonderful place to start, not least because of the exciting opportunities for meeting new people and getting more out of your travels.
Even if you don’t choose to downsize to a smaller place for your senior years (although there are many advantages to doing so), you should absolutely downsize your possessions. We all have a tendency to accumulate stuff over the years, so by the time you hit retirement age, your home is probably filled with things you don’t actually want or need. Decluttering is healthy for many reasons. As well as making your home a more stress-free environment, it reduces dust and indoor air pollution and minimizes the risk of falls, trips, and other accidents.
As you grow older, regular stretching becomes almost as important as regular exercise. A complete stretching regimen will allow you to maintain your mobility and range of movement by keeping your joints and tendons limber. This, in turn, will help you stay independent for longer and boost your quality of life for years to come. Do daily stretches (in addition to stretching before exercise), or take up yoga to get stretching benefits plus added strength and flexibility.
Overall, the secret to senior health is to take a more holistic approach. It’s not just about exercise or food — it’s about living a lifestyle that supports both your mental and physical wellbeing. This includes the big habits, but also the smaller stuff, like how you keep your brain active in your free time or how you make your home a more pleasant space.
Guest post by Jason Lewis