We build habits all of our lives, usually without thinking too much about them. Research shows that habits are simply behaviors that we have reinforced for long enough that they happen “automatically” for us, even without thinking about them.
We might even have habits that worked well when we’re younger, but don’t as we age. And what happens when we have habits that no longer serve us and how do we go about changing them?
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5 Habits we should stop after the age of 65
We should all know this by now, but smoking is incredibly bad for us and is the number one cause of preventable death. Even quitting after the age of 60 has been shown to increase lifespan by 1-4 years. Time to quit!
There is nothing wrong with needing help to quit smoking, learn more here.
Poor sleep routines
As young adults, we could burn the candle at both ends and rarely pay the price for it. But as we age, the need to understand and regulate our sleep patterns becomes more important. Also, when we get older, our metabolisms change and sleeping anytime we want can be tricky.
The best thing that can be done is a little sleep training, which isn’t difficult if you follow the below steps:
- Cut out caffeine after 1pm
- Go to bed at the same time every evening, regardless of day of week
- Get up at the same time each morning, regardless of day of week
- Only use your bed for sleeping; not for things like watching tv or eating (unless you are bedbound)
For more information on easy sleep training, click here.
Being isolated socially
Isolation from family, friends and other people can lead to a number of health issues, including anxiety and depression. Read more at Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks.
But in this time after having isolated socially for the last few years, how do we go about being more social and less isolated?
- Connect in real life – at the grocery store, in the library or bookstore or even your local senior center
- Volunteer where you’re needed (shelters, soup kitchens, church or youth programs)
- Find like minded people – perhaps through church, local meet up groups or by taking classes or workshops
For more information, read this great article: 3 Ways to Combat Feelings of Isolation.
Not getting physical in our daily lives is bad for us. No matter our physical ability, we can choose to be more active than we currently are now. The downfalls of being sedentary are certainly not limited to, but can include:
- Higher risk of depression
- Bone loss
- Loss of muscle mass (muscle mass helps with many things, including balance)
- Greater risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Even adding small walks throughout your day will increase your health. For more benefits and ideas on how to get started, read this.
More than casual drinking
Excessive alcohol intake can be directly related to a number of health issues that worsen as we age:
- Liver damage
- Immune system disorders
- Heart disease
Did you know that as we age, we’re at a higher risk of sensitivity to alcohol, which can include drug interactions and higher risk of falls? Best bet is to err on the side of moderation. No more than one drink daily for women and two daily for men.
How to swap out a “bad” habit for a “good” one
It’s often said that we don’t remove bad habits, we swap them out for better habits. But how?
- Identify (and take accountability for) your current not-so-great-habit
- Make a strategy for substitution – when all you want to do is lay on the sofa and watch a movie, what will you do (that is a little more physical) instead?
- Cut triggers – if you go to sleep late because of your evening coffee, swap the coffee for a tasty decaf beverage
- Be accountable to someone – someone who knows that you want to quit smoking or be more physically active. They will help keep you on track
Remember, by choosing better habits, you’re not changing who you are as a person. You’re just going back to the true you, who you were before you chose the habits that don’t serve you anymore.
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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197
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