While nobody would ever choose to be unhappy or unhealthy, sometimes it feels like there isn’t much say in how age takes a toll. While we can’t control everything, there are many choices we can make to help ensure we enjoy the best possible situation as we grow older. Thankfully, some of the simplest things can make the biggest impact.
If your hope is to age in your own home, you’re not alone. According to statistics cited by NBC News, most Americans prefer the idea of aging in place over the alternatives. To do so successfully, you should make some home modifications with your future quality of life in mind. There are three crucial categories that modifications should cover: safety, accessibility, and convenience. For example, removing slipping and tripping hazards, such as throw rugs and magazine racks, can mean safe maneuvering through your home, and installing a curbless shower means better accessibility for washing. Think about the details of what will keep you safe, sound, and independent, and enact some changes.
When it comes to editing your belongings, removing items that could trip you up is just one reason to do some cutting back. Decluttering provides several mental health benefits, helping you feel less distracted, more relaxed, and less stressed. Being surrounded by “stuff” can make you feel like your life is out of control and off-track. You can also be more productive and organized, so you don’t get hung up looking for things when you’re on the go.
If you have a lot of belongings, decluttering can be time-consuming, but by doing a bit at a time, you can tackle your project. Try doing a little every day, and plan to donate some things to charities. Some studies indicate that charitable giving provides some mental health benefits of its own, such as boosting life satisfaction and promoting happy feelings, so consider it a chance to double-dip into a few healthy feel-goods.
Part of making the most of your golden years requires dedication to your health. This means getting regular checkups and screenings. Keeping tabs on your health enables you to avoid illness or to treat problems more quickly before they worsen. It’s also important to review your insurance coverage annually. You may already have Original Medicare, but depending on changes to your policy it might be worth looking into alternative plans. Medicare Advantage plans, offered through providers like Humana, offer access to Original Medicare, but with expanded coverage for dental, vision and prescriptions. Take the time every year to go over your new policy and any changes so that your coverage is tailored to your specific needs.
In addition to traditional healthcare, there are alternative treatments available to ease discomfort and help you avoid pain medication and invasive medical testing. Complementary and Alternative Medicine consists of things like acupuncture, massage, craniosacral chiropractic, and many other options. Discuss coverage with your insurance company; you might find plan options to help you cover the cost of these preventative services.
Giving away your old things can make life better for you and for others, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Doing something outside of yourself can supplement your life in unique and important ways. According to Leisure Care, seniors can reap ample benefits, mentally and physically, from volunteering. It lowers your risk for depression, helps avoid isolation, and can increase your appreciation of what you have. It also appears that volunteering can help you put off the onset of dementia, and it’s possible that volunteering can even add years to your life, in addition to adding life to your years. There is an abundance of volunteer opportunities, so think about what things you’re passionate about. Getting involved with a faith-based organization, spending time with children, or helping an animal rescue organization are just a few ideas.
Having a companion animal is a terrific way to improve your health and happiness. According to some research, the benefits seniors can gain are both plentiful and important. For instance, pet ownership can lower your risk for heart disease, boost your ability to communicate, and help you maintain a positive mood. Seniors with pets need fewer trips to the doctor, stay more physically active, and enjoy a busier social life. For the ultimate experience, consider adopting an older pet. Older animals tend to have the hardest time finding homes, but senior pets also tend to have better manners than their younger counterparts, are more relaxing to interact with, and just like senior people, they are still fully able to learn new skills.
To some extent, what goes on in your senior years is beyond your control. However, there is a lot you can do to take control of your circumstances. With a few healthy lifestyle choices, you set yourself up for making your golden years your best ever.
Jason Lewis is a personal trainer by day. He specializes in helping seniors stay fit, healthy and injury-free. To make this mission possible, he created StrongWell to be able to share his tips.