The Importance of Self Care
Self-care is an important practice for every person, but particularly for older adults. What is self-care? While it may conjure up images of indulgence, luxuriating in leisure activities or a day at the spa, it is much more than that. Self-care is an umbrella term for all the things we can do to help our own wellbeing. No matter your age, it is important to take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Why should seniors prioritize self-care? Research shows that older people who have well-established self-care routines see improvements in physical and mental health, feel increased independence and a sense of satisfaction, and report fewer feelings of isolation and more of a feeling of being connected to others. Here, we discuss some ways that older adults can incorporate self-care into their daily routine and begin living their best lives.
Connect with Your Passions
It could be something that used to be a passion, or it could be something entirely new, but finding something that interests and inspires you is a vital part of self-care. It could be a hobby, like photography, singing, painting, or crafting, perhaps something that fell by the wayside during the years of raising a family and pursuing a career. On the other hand, maybe there’s something that always interested you, but you never had time to try. Take an art class, join a book club, or learn to dance. Does this seem like too much? You could pick up a new game, like chess, begin working on puzzles, learn how to knit, read some books you haven’t had time to read, or maybe listen to audiobooks. Gardening is another hobby that can be fun, and you don’t have to be good at it to start a small container garden and enjoy some time in the sunshine.
Spend Some Time In Nature
Even if you’re not into gardening, find something fun to do outside. It doesn’t have to be fishing or hiking, it could just be sitting in the sunshine or taking a walk. Being outside gives you the opportunity to breathe fresh air, absorb some vitamin C, and connect with nature. People who spend time out in nature experience greater life satisfaction and better overall health, including lower blood pressure and fewer stress hormones.
Get Regular Exercise
Many people are conditioned to think of exercise as a way to lose weight, but it’s much more than that. Exercise benefits your mind and body, improving cognitive function as it strengthens the health of your immune system, improves sleep, boosts your mood, increases your energy, and more. Find something you enjoy, whether it’s swimming, water aerobics, yoga, or even going out dancing! Even a daily walk can provide many benefits, combining the boost you get from exercise with the benefits of being outside.
Prioritize good nutrition
Often, older people have trouble eating a well-balanced diet, but it’s vital to the healthy function of your body. Make sure to eat a healthy mix of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and you will reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Staying hydrated is important, too. It helps keep our minds and bodies working the way they should, and can help improve our mood. It’s recommended that men drink about 125 fluid ounces of water each day, and for women, the number is 90 ounces. You don’t have to get all of that hydration from water, though. Fresh fruit and calorie-free beverages like tea can also be hydrating.
Nurture Relationships with Others
Isolation is one of the most common problems associated with aging. Human beings crave connection, so it’s important to stay connected with friends and family. Regularly scheduled interactions, like Sunday dinner with the family, a weekly lunch or coffee date with friends, attending religious services, or participating in a book club, can be great sources of social connection. You can also touch base by talking on the phone, texting, connecting through video chat, or emailing, if your closest relationships are with people who live far away. Connecting with other people feels good, and it is good for your brain, because it causes the release of oxytocin, a hormone that lowers cortisol and stress levels. In fact, there are studies showing that having strong friendships as we age can help prevent mental decline.
Sometimes, just being grateful for what you have is enough to make you feel happier in your life. Practicing gratitude could mean keeping a gratitude journal, or it could be as simple as taking time each day to meditate on what made you happy that day.
Take Time to Relax
Self-care is about balance, and balance involves periods of rest and relaxation. Take time each day to step back from your daily activities, clear your mind of worries, and find a way to recharge. Relaxing looks different for different people, so find what works for you, whether it’s a time of prayer or meditation, an activity like baking or gardening, something quiet like reading a book or painting, or just sitting outside in the sun.
Get Adequate Sleep
Getting enough sleep is important for your health at any age, but it’s especially important for seniors. Create a bedtime routine that allows you to wind down before you go to bed, and try to get at least six to seven hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep can help stave off issues like irritability brain fog, lowered immunity, depression, and memory loss.
Mind Your Mental Health
Pay attention to your own moods, and work on finding ways to manage your stress. If you feel like you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or just loneliness, don’t hesitate to talk to a friend, a therapist, or an in-home caregiver who will keep what you say confidential and help you find ways to cope.
Do Something for Someone Else
Sometimes, the best thing we can do to boost our own mood is to put something good out into the world. Retired seniors who find a way to volunteer are actually practicing self-care, because volunteering offers many benefits. It gives them a chance to socialize and feel like a valuable part of the community, offers something outside themselves to work towards, helps them feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and provides an avenue for productivity. Volunteering opportunities include working at a food pantry or soup kitchen, helping out at a local school or nonprofit, volunteering in your religious community, or mentoring kids through the YMCA.
Know When to Ask for Help
Older adults need support and encouragement to maintain their self-care habits, and this can come from caregivers, family members and healthcare professionals. Sometimes, it helps to have someone in the house to help provide this kind of support and adapt activities to the person’s abilities and preferences. Having the right help at home, from someone who recognizes the significance of self-care, can make a big difference in helping an older person lead a more satisfying, healthier, and more independent life. At BrightStar Care of Delray Beach, Florida, we work hard to deliver the right care for older people and to be a partner their loved ones can turn to for support. Because we believe that caring is more than just a job, our team of nurses, therapists, CNAs, and caregivers offer the most professional compassionate care available. In the comforting, familiar surroundings of home, we offer a full range of care services to meet your loved one’s needs and help you when you need it most. Visit our website to contact us or apply now, or call 561-921-0550 to learn more about joining the BrightStar Care family.