Here are some ideas for improving your overall health this year.
January: Get Your Beauty Sleep—After the hustle and bustle of the holidays you may find yourself feeling tired and worn out. Focus on establishing and maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and long daytime naps, exercise at least 20 minutes per day, and keep stress in check.
February: Take Care of Those Pearly Whites—Flossing may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's, according to a British study that found bacteria associated with gum disease in brain samples of the people who died from the degenerative disease. While you're indulging in Valentine's Day chocolates and other sweets, remember to floss once per day and brush your teeth 30 minutes after every meal.
March: Visit Your Doctor—March is Kidney Month, making it the perfect time for older adults to get an annual urine test to screen for kidney disease. Recent research conducted by the Kidney Foundation suggests that 59 percent of individuals will be diagnosed with moderate kidney disease at some point, and early intervention can make a significant difference in quality of life. Those with high blood pressure or diabetes are at an elevated risk so they should be especially vigilant about scheduling routine examinations.
April: Walk Off Your Meals—A 15-minute walk after eating can stabilize your blood sugar level for hours and significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes. In fact, taking a short walk after every meal can be much more effective at preventing blood sugar spikes than taking one 45-minute walk daily. Need motivation? A new study suggests that people who use pedometers, small devices that count the number of steps you take, walk more throughout the day.
May: Laugh—Laughter has been shown to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, produce endorphins that can relieve physical pain and boost immunity. In observance of World Laughter Day on May 4th, here are 8 ways you can start smiling and living a happier life.
June: Stay Cool—June marks the start of warmer summer temperatures; higher temperatures mean an increased risk for heat stroke, dehydration and other heat-related conditions, especially among older adults. Check out these 8 tips to avoid heat-related injuries.
July: Prevent Food from Spoiling—Packing for a trip to the beach or lake? Preserve food and snacks by making sure your cooler stays cold enough during the drive. Block ice keeps food colder than cubes - plastic bottles filled with water and kept in the freezer overnight work well, too. Remember that a full cooler stays cold longer than one that's partially filled and be sure to keep frozen meat and poultry securely wrapped and away from produce or snacks.
August: Visit the Ophthalmologist—August is Eye Exam Month; with a multitude of vision-improving aides available, it’s important to make sure you understand the quality of your vision and take the appropriate action to improve it if necessary. The Mayo Clinic recommends that adults between the ages of 40 and 65 schedule eye exams every two to four years. For seniors 65 and older, vision check-ups should be scheduled every one or two years.
September: Reduce Fall Risk— Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls; unintentional falls are the leading cause of death by injury and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions in this age group. September 15-21 is Balance Awareness Week, making this month a great time to start improving your balance and flexibility by adopting a regular exercise regimen. For example, Yoga promotes balance and muscle strength, reducing the risk of falls and injury rates.
October: Focus on Mental Wellbeing—October is Depression Awareness Month, a good time to visit your doctor if you suspect you may be suffering from depression. Although coffee certainly isn't a cure for serious depression, a recent Harvard study based on 16 years of data from more than 200,000 adults, found that drinking two to four cups of java a day may lower suicide risk by almost 50%. Researchers believe that caffeine, a mild stimulant, may be a mood booster. If the onset of shorter days fills you with dread, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that comes and goes as the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters — which are sensitive to light — fluctuate throughout the seasons. Beat the "winter blues" by getting more vitamin D, exercising, spending time outside every dayand getting enough sleep.
November: Prevent Caregiver Burnout—November is Family Caregivers Month. Millions of adults care for an elderly, disabled or chronically ill family member in addition to raising a family and working full-time. Juggling multiple responsibilities along with the physical and emotional toll of caregiving leaves little time for personal care; the majority of family caregivers report symptoms of depression, high levels of stress and general feelings of being overburdened. If you are currently providing care for a family member or loved one it is important that you understand the warning signs of caregiver burnout and ways to prevent it.
December: Give Your Immune System a Boost—With flu season at its peak during this time, try incorporating these seven foods with immune-boosting properties into your diet: almonds (antioxidant vitamin E); black-eyed peas (zinc); carrots (vitamin A helps fight respiratory infections); mushrooms (selenium wards off flu); tea (green or black varieties contain powerful antioxidants); tomatoes (vitamin C); yogurt (probiotics).