Most older adults know what it’s like to care for someone else. Many raised children and helped raise grandchildren; some helped care for aging parents when they were younger; and many put their lives on hold to assist an ailing spouse or friend. But while prioritizing the needs of others, many older adults forget to practice self-care.
Because it involves putting yourself first, many people view the concept of self-care as selfish indulgence. However, protecting and addressing your needs is critical to your health and happiness. Studies show that self-care for seniors offers the following benefits:
- Reduced stress and improved ability to manage stress when it arises
- Better physical health
- Improved economic and social well-being
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Increased feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment
- Better chance of living a longer, healthier, happier life
If you’re in search of senior self-care ideas for yourself or a loved one, try these 10 suggestions.
Prioritize Your Physical Health
The goal is to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other ailments that could decrease your quality of life. You’ve heard these tips time and again, but they’re vital for good physical health in your senior years:
- Eat healthy food like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meat to boost your energy levels, maintain mental clarity, and improve your immune system.
- Stay hydrated to keep your body functioning the way it should. Keep a water bottle with you, and make a habit of drinking from it throughout the day.
- Exercise regularly to build muscle strength, control arthritis joint pain, maintain strong bones, and protect your cognitive health.
- Get enough sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, try establishing a calming bedtime routine and going to sleep at the same time every night.
Prioritize Doctor Checkups
While you can do plenty of things at home to promote good health, nothing replaces doctor visits. Keep up with your recommended medical, dental, and vision screenings to help you identify and treat minor health concerns before they grow into major problems.
Discover Your Favorite Ways to Relax
Whether you want to get a handle on stress or simply unwind after a busy day, incorporate activities into your schedule that calm your nerves. Here are some ideas:
- Listen to soothing music or nature sounds with your eyes closed.
- Sit in a comfortable chair and take deep breaths to clear your mind.
- Try aromatherapy, whether by lighting a candle, placing essential oils in a diffuser, or baking chocolate chip cookies.
- Practice yoga at home or sign up for a class.
- Schedule regular therapeutic massages to relieve muscle tension, reduce anxiety, and boost your immune system.
- Take a bubble bath and enjoy soaking in the warm, soapy water.
- Pray to a higher power to help you work through thoughts and emotions.
Do Something You Love Every Day
One important aspect of self-care is making sure every day includes an activity you enjoy. This can be as simple as listening to music you love in the morning, reading the newspaper with lunch, or watching a favorite TV show in the evening.
Connect with Others
Older adults are more prone to loneliness than other age groups. Whether you live alone or with family, make an effort to connect with others daily. Here are some easy ideas:
- Call a family member or friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
- Visit your neighbors to simply say hello or deliver a plate of cookies.
- Join a club to help you meet new friends.
- Hang out in communal areas in your neighborhood, and don’t be afraid to strike up conversations.
Spend Time Outside
Fresh air and sunshine offer many physical and mental health benefits. Take daily walks as often as you can, especially when the weather is nice. Sitting on the patio is another way to enjoy the scenery and listen to the birds. Even if you don’t physically go outside, just looking at nature through a window can be enough to relieve mental fatigue.
It’s never too late to have new experiences or learn a skill. Your senior years are also a great time to revisit the passions you fostered when you were younger. Here are some creative outlets to include in your senior self-care routine:
- Compose a poem.
- Write a children’s book, short story, or memoir.
- Draw or paint a picture.
- Cook a meal or dessert you’ve always wanted to try.
- Grow a flower, herb, or vegetable garden.
- Take up woodworking.
- Start a scrapbook.
- Take pictures of the beautiful world around you.
- Learn to play a musical instrument.
- Try knitting, quilting, or crocheting.
They say laughter is the best medicine, and they’re not wrong. Laughing triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body, boosting your mood and protecting you from the damaging effects of chronic stress. With so much power in laughter, make it a habit to smile and laugh every day. You might watch comedy shows or stand-up comedians, go to an open mic night, or call a friend who can always make you laugh.
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
When things get hard, it’s easy to dwell on the negative. But maintaining a grateful outlook can improve your happiness, boost your self-esteem, and increase your life satisfaction. There are many ways to give thanks throughout your day. Here are a few of them:
- Think of three things you’re grateful for before you step out of bed each morning. Savor the feeling of thankfulness as you start your day.
- Keep a gratitude journal. By writing down the things you’re grateful for, you create a record to look back on later.
- Practice mindfulness. This involves pausing whatever you’re doing to appreciate the sights, sounds, and sensations you’re experiencing.
- Say “thank you” every day. Recognizing when others show you kindness opens you up to even more gratitude.
- Write “thank you” letters to the important people in your life. Taking the time to write out how you feel can be enriching. You’ll also make the other person’s day when they open your letter.
- Donate to charity or volunteer in your community to instill a sense of purpose while connecting with others less fortunate than you.
Find a Great Senior Living Community
If you hope to build self-care into your daily routine, moving to a senior living community is a great option. There, you’ll thrive—mind, body, and soul—as you connect with other vibrant older adults in the same stage of life.
At Parkwood Heights, we prioritize the health and happiness of our residents. That’s one reason why our picturesque, 122-acre senior living campus is such a great place to call home. Here, you’ll enjoy scheduled activities and outings, have a chance to pursue your hobbies and interests, and relish a maintenance-free, joy-filled lifestyle. To learn more about what we have to offer, please contact us online or call us at (315) 986-9100.