New Year’s resolutions are a great way to make personal improvements while taking stock of your life. Some of the old standbys, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, are great ideas, but others are specifically geared to seniors.
Amy Cotton, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems’ director of senior services and aging guru, has some unique suggestions that can help seniors be healthy and fit, mentally and emotionally.
“I want to highlight the benefit of doing something each day in the new year to promote brain fitness,” she said.
Keeping your brain fit along with your body is important. Cotton recommends attending presentations, offered by different groups, on topics you know little about. Engaging in activities that promote logic and reasoning or memory are best, and while games like Scrabble and puzzles are fun, she suggests learning new games in the coming year.
Also, there is nothing like lending a hand to someone else to make you feel good. That joy can be found in volunteering.
“Seniors have rich life experiences, wisdom and valuable skills to share with their communities who could really use their talents,” Cotton said.
She recommends finding at least one activity where you can give of yourself for an organization. Some nonprofit agencies have experienced reduced funding and are desperate for help.
“Volunteering keeps the older adult’s world from shrinking, gives life additional purpose and meaning, and promotes wellness,” Cotton said.
Call Volunteer Maine at their Portland number, 874-1000, for a list of volunteer opportunities.
The rich experiences seniors have can also be their legacy to family members. Cotton recommends sharing life stories and labeling old photos with not just names but the location and event, if any.
“All too often, seniors assume their families know all about the family history and their individual unique life stories,” Cotton said. “This just isn’t the case.”
Cotton, who teaches a college course on aging, tells her students to interview their grandparents and great-grandparents. They always eagerly report how much they learned about their own family history and how much they learned about historical events in society.
Like most things in life, the new year is what we make it.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.