Top 5 New Year's Resolutions You Shouldn't Make after 50
Taking on 2018
Every New Year’s, after the balloons fall and the champagne glasses are stored away, we face 2018 with a hopeful look to the year ahead. Many of us will make resolutions to better our bodies, fuel our minds and restore our souls. So what’s on your “to do” list?
As we age, some of our priorities shift when it comes to those resolutions. But should they? If you’re over the age of 50, here are a few suggestions of what NOT to add to your list of goals for the New Year.
The list you don’t want to make
1. Resolve to stop working. Okay, yes, retirement is a good thing and a goal many of us aspire to achieve. But while you may give up a full-time work commitment, don’t resolve to slow down completely. If you aren’t working in a career, consider putting your skills to work as a volunteer.
“We have volunteers who say coming in just helps them get up and going in the morning. It gives them a reason to get out of the house and do something active. Socialization is really a great benefit of volunteering.
Director of Patient and Guest Services for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Women’s Hospital
“Socialization, talking with other people is also very good for brain cells,” said Dr. Rebecca Reilly, medical director of the Methodist Hospital Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) Clinic. “There are all kinds of studies that show people who have more social connections do better, live longer, healthier and happier. If you are not interacting with other people it’s bad for the cognitive part of your brain, the memory and thinking. It’s also bad for your mood.”
2. Resolve to spend more time off your feet. No matter the age, exercise and staying active is a key part of good health. Movement helps to improve circulation, maintain muscle mass and reinforce bone health. It’s important for both your body and your brain.
“Physical activity is so important because the second common cause of memory loss, after Alzheimer’s disease, is vascular dementia - a circulatory problem,” said Dr. Abelardo Cruz, internal medicine and geriatric physician at the Methodist Hospital GEM Clinic. “You need to take care of your brain in the same way you care for your heart and other bodily organs: by making sure it gets adequate blood flow. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, is one way to keep your brain healthy.”
Whether it’s getting up and mobile during television commercial breaks or taking a parking spot farther away from the door, think of ways you can sneak exercise into your daily routine. Work up to a goal of 30 minutes of exercise five days a week.
3. Resolve to stop obsessing over your health. Preventative care is the foundation of good health. Preemptive screening can help with early detection and disease prevention. Regular visits with your health care provider can help ensure your good health now and in the future. Some things you won’t want to skip include a colonoscopy, annual mammograms and gynecological exams, cholesterol checks, shingles and flu vaccines and diabetes testing.
“Your doctor may recommend additional screenings based on your personal and family medical histories,” said Dr. Lindsay Northam, an internal medicine provider at Methodist Physicians Clinic 192 Dodge. “Blood pressure screening and obesity screening are routine parts of an annual physical. Sexual health screening, monitoring for signs of domestic violence and screening for alcohol or tobacco abuse is also monitored yearly.”
4. Resolve to eat whatever you want. Although elastic pants are the epitome of comfort, there are consequences of indulgence. As we age, our metabolism slows, making it much easier to gain weight and harder to lose it.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans put forth by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services encourages anyone over the age of 65 who is overweight to not gain additional weight, and says weight loss can be beneficial to your health. It can improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of obesity-related chronic diseases and associated disabilities. A better diet can also simply make you feel better.
“Enjoy more fruits and vegetables and add more fiber. After 50 the gut slows down so you need to get bowels moving. Creating better, nutritional habits will make you feel better, and if you can feel better in the end it’s going to be worth the changes.
5. Resolve to be carefree in the sun. While the vitamin D exposure you get from the sun is a good thing, too much of a good thing can do more harm than good. If you are spending time in the sun, be sure to protect your skin.
“UV exposure is as strongly related to skin cancer as smoking is to lung cancer,” said Dr. George Dittrick, surgical oncologist at the Surgical Oncology Clinic at Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center. “If you find something that concerns you, see your primary care physician or dermatologist. It’s a lot easier to have a simple skin biopsy done as opposed to dealing with a melanoma.”
When it comes to self-checks, watch for changing pigment or moles. If they become irregular, asymmetric, raised, darker or blacker, see your health care provider for a full exam.
If you need help putting together a list of New Year’s resolutions that make more sense for your healthy year ahead, talk with your Methodist Physicians Clinic health care provider.