The daffodils have already started to bloom, the days are getting longer, and you are an active senior eager for winter to end and spring to begin. This is the time to take stock of how you are caring for yourself and what aspects of your health, diet, living environment, and exercise regimen needs a “tune-up.” Be a better you in 2020!
1. Get a Physical and Review Your Medications
If you don’t see a physician regularly for any specific condition, it is important to have a general physical at least once a year. Medicare covers an “annual wellness visit,” which is typically performed by a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant and includes taking height and weight, blood pressure, and completion of a risk assessment form that assesses personal and family health history.
Your medical provider will schedule the necessary mammograms, colonoscopies, and other screenings. He or she will also evaluate you for signs of depression or cognitive problems as well as for any risk of falling.
Now is the time to bring up any new complaints or concerns, as well as review the conditions for which you are being treated currently. Ask your provider:
- What can I do to reduce the medication(s) I am taking?
- Do I seem a healthy weight? If not, how much should I lose or gain?
- How do you expect my health to be in a year or 5 years, and what can I do to avoid any backsliding?
- What else can I do to take better care of myself?
2. Do a pre-Spring Cleaning of Your Home
While it is still a bit chilly and nasty to spend time outside, take a look around your inside living space. Start big – is your space too cluttered, creating a risk of tripping or falling? Could you rearrange furniture to make it easier to get around?
How about books and magazines? If you have piles of those about the house and you haven’t given them a second look, time to purge. It will make it easier to navigate around your space when you do.
Go through your closets. You know you have clothing and shoes you’ve not worn in years – donate all of that! There is nothing more satisfying than making space in closets, so that when people come to visit you have room for their things too.
How about your desk area? Undoubtedly bills, receipts, and other important documents have piled up. When was the last time you went through all of that? Conventional wisdom dictates that anything more than seven (7) years old can be thrown out, or shredded if containing confidential information or personal identifiers. Anything less than seven (7) years old should be kept but can be boxed up, labeled by year, put in a basement, attic, or closet, and when more than 7 years old, simply shredded!
Now that you’ve gone through the house and gotten rid of some things and stored others, plan for a top-to-bottom clean. Either you can dust and then vacuum and wax or otherwise treat the floors, washing all removable upholstery, or you hire a service to help you do it. Air quality suffers greatly if dust (and dust mites!) and cobwebs build up.
3. Go Through Your Active Wear and Footwear
Spring is right around the corner – you just can’t wait to get outside! Whether it’s gardening, going for walks, tennis, golf, swimming, or what have you, your outside activities require the proper footwear and clothing.
Assess what you have now. Does what you currently have to make you feel good about putting it on and going outside to do your thing? If not, time for a little shopping. Upgrading your sneakers or getting a new bathing suit is a small expense that can pay off big in inspiring you to stay active.
4. Review the Local and Organic Grocery Choices in Your Area
Here in New Jersey, the advent of spring means the beginning of our extended growing season. In our area we can truly live farm-to-table. Organic, free-range eggs and chicken are available at our local farm stands, and local farmers are even raising lambs and calves!
Your Community might have its own farmers market you can walk to, or there may be a bus you can take. If driving, fifteen minutes in any direction will get you to a farm where you can buy direct.
Nothing needs to be said about the economic and health value of buying and eating local. Spring is the time – plan on it!
5. Research Upcoming Outdoor Activities and Clubs
You’ve gotten a check-up, improved your living space, upgraded your activewear, and know where you are getting your delicious NJ produce and protein. Last is planning how you are going to get active and stay active this spring and summer, and just before spring is the ideal time to research that.
Every county in New Jersey offers activities appropriate for seniors and all community members, like Burlington County:
And a retirement community will have its own offerings, such as Medford Leas, a 55+ community in New Jersey:
Wherever you live, putting events you think you might enjoy on your calendar now will give you a sense of anticipation and excitement over what’s yet to come. And planning this far ahead means you can invite friends and family to take part in these activities and events with you, giving them time to put you on their schedule, too.
Being proactive about your wellness, fitness, and happiness now will pay off in spades this spring!
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. After college, she worked as an intern for a publishing company in Manhattan before getting a job as an editorial writer for a news agency in Philadelphia. Jennifer Bell now lives and works in Southern New Jersey as a freelance writer in order to have the freedom to travel as she pleases. She hopes to get her MFA in Creative Writing in the future and eventually become a fiction author or English professor.