Resolve to Be Active: How Seniors Can Maintain Quality of Life

More than 90 percent of American seniors age 65 and older want to remain in their homes and age in place as they grow older, according to an AARP report. Itís not surprising -- particularly among people who are accustomed to living alone -- that so many seniors want to maintain their independence. But living independently in oneís golden years requires maintaining control over oneís physical and mental well-being, and that means making good lifestyle decisions, eating healthy, and staying active and socially connected.

Social engagement

Seniors who stay connected to friends and loved ones tend to remain physically active and benefit mentally and emotionally from frequent interaction. Social engagement helps seniors feel involved in othersí lives, which makes regular contact so important. If you live too far away for personal contact spend some time catching up through social media. Make frequent use of Skype and FaceTime so you can spend some time eye-to-eye with those who are closest to you.

Stay physically engaged

Physical activity can do a lot to alleviate depression and help you feel better emotionally as well as physically. Thatís an important factor considering the high cost of giving into despair and depression, which can lead to loss of appetite and weight loss; feelings of worthlessness; suicidal thoughts; memory problems; and a loss of motivation and energy. Go for a walk with friends a couple times a week or, if youíd rather exercise with companions, take a yoga class with friends but be sure itís the right kind of yoga. If you have mobility limitations, a class thatís too strenuous can do more harm than good, so look for an instructor with experience working with older adults. Remember, the key is to engage in some form of exercise on a regular basis.

Regular check-ups

Focus on preventative health this year by taking advantage of your free annual wellness check through Medicare. If youíre taking multiple prescription medications, pay attention to any symptoms that could indicate a dangerous interaction. Such reactions might include sleepiness, loss of appetite or a combination of allergic reactions. Older adults are more prone to getting cavities and oral infections as they grow older, so be sure to visit the dentist at least every six months.

Medicare

Knowing how to get the most of your Medicare coverage requires understanding your rights and taking advantage of your free Medicare annual wellness check-ups. You should also shop around for the best deal on Part D prescription coverage, since coverage options change from year to year. Consider adding a Medicare Advantage plan, which combines services associated with Parts A, B and D all rolled into one plan, or add some other form of supplemental coverage if you have a chronic illness.

Stay mentally active

Researchers believe that memory loss and other forms of mental decline in seniors is related to lifestyle habits. Play word games, read detective novels, take up an engaging new hobby or volunteer with a local charitable organization. Youíll find that staying mentally active helps you achieve a positive outlook and stay motivated.

Eat healthy

Itís important to eat healthy as one ages and to emphasize high-fiber foods including vegetables, fruit and whole grains to help an older adultís digestive system work properly. Dehydration is also a problem as seniors grow older, so itís essential to drink plenty of water every day.

Make it a resolution this year to get the physical and mental stimulation you need to maintain a good quality of life. Read, engage with friends and be sure to get regular medical screenings. Taking physical and mental control of your life helps you stay independent and happy.