If you’re like most seniors, you’ve probably spent the majority of your life taking care of others — kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, etc. But, how much time do you dedicate to taking care of yourself?
Many older adults struggle when it comes to prioritizing self-care. Some think that they’re being selfish, while others simply don’t know where to begin.
No matter which camp you fall into, keep reading.
Listed below are five self-care tips that you can easily incorporate into your life without breaking the bank.
1. Enjoy Your Favorite Hobbies
What do you love to do? Read? Play golf? Create fun crafts? Whatever your favorite hobbies are, make sure you’re setting aside time every week — if not every day — to enjoy them without interruptions.
For some people, this is easier said than done. You may need to let your family know that at a certain time during the week, you’re not available.
Setting this boundary can be difficult, especially if your children or grandchildren are used to you always being available. But, if you’re firm in your decision and let them know why you’re blocking off time just for you, they’ll soon adjust.
2. Treat Ailments Naturally
Seniors aged 65-69 fill, on average, fourteen prescriptions per year. Those who are aged 80-84 fill an average of eighteen prescriptions per year.
If you’re taking a variety of prescription drugs, it’s important to look for natural alternatives for treating minor aches and pains. Not only does this help you avoid mixing drugs that shouldn’t be mixed, but it’s also nice to not have to worry about taking yet another pill.
Instead of turning to ibuprofen to deal with a sore neck or tense shoulders, try using a special neck-massaging pillow to gently massage stiff muscles. You can also use essential oils to treat headaches, seasonal allergy symptoms, muscles aches, and other minor ailments naturally.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Rest and recovery are essential for seniors, and you should be shooting for somewhere between seven and nine hours per night. But, if you’re like most seniors, you’re probably not getting an optimal amount of rest.
Many seniors struggle with sleep issues. They may be a side-effect of a particular prescription or combination of prescriptions, or they can be caused by general aches and pains.
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep is essential for preventing depression. It also improves your balance and cognition.
Before turning to over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids, start by identifying what’s causing your sleep issues. You might need to talk to your doctor about lowering your dose of certain medications or going off them altogether.
4. Nourish Yourself with Healthy Food
Some people are of the mind that, when it comes to self-care and food, the best way to treat yourself is to literally let yourself eat any treat or sweet you desire.
While there’s definitely room for an occasional treat in a balanced, healthy lifestyle, remember that one of the best things you can do with regard to self-care you is to nourish yourself with healthy food.
Microwave meals, packaged snacks, and takeout are fine from time to time, but they shouldn’t make up the bulk of your diet. Instead, prioritize real, whole foods, especially vegetables, fruit, high-quality meats, and healthy fats.
If you aren’t comfortable cooking new, healthy foods for yourself, there are lots of simple recipes online that you can try. If you have a caregiver who cooks for you, talk to them about switching up your diet to make it more balanced.
5. Make Time for Fitness
Finally, make sure you’re taking time to exercise regularly. When you’re busy or not feeling your best, exercise is usually the first thing to go.
In reality, a consistent exercise routine will help you feel more energized and capable. It also reduces your risk of falls and decreases your chance of developing chronic conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, and even dementia.
If you’re not in the habit of exercising regularly, start by scheduling a short walk around your neighborhood every morning or evening. Over time, start incorporating other forms of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training to build muscle and strengthen the bones.