A Checklist for the New Year

By: Jill Rosner, R.N., B.S.N. – Guest Contributor, Rosner Healthcare Navigation

The beginning of the year brings renewed hope for a fresh start and an opportunity to make changes in the areas of our lives that we all have on our “to do” lists. New Year’s resolutions, as we all know, rarely make it past the first few weeks. It’s probably best to make a list and start checking off what we want to see happen in the New Year.

Each year I try to give some suggestions to better our overall health. This year I’m making a list. When I meet with a new client and do an assessment, it’s a head-to-toe mind, body, mental health and social/environmental approach. I make recommendations in areas of: physical, safety, psychosocial, and anticipatory guidance.

So here is my checklist of things to do this year based on my personal approach: Physical Make appointments for healthcare providers:
• Primary Care (PC) — at least yearly or on the schedule given to you by your physician • Cardiology if recommended by your PC
• Specialists, appropriate for your medical conditions
• Ophthalmology, an eye check for vision problems, which can contribute to falls. Cataracts cloud the vision and over time you don’t notice the changes. Just take care of it before it’s too late.
• Podiatry if necessary
• Plan an exercise program that works for you. Walking 30 minutes per day is the best exercise. Seated chair exercises will improve strength and balance
• Get a prescription for physical therapy if your balance and mobility have declined and you have concerns of falling (although most only have this concern when the horses are out of the barn and it’s too late).
• Stop smoking. Cessation programs are available. This is the single most controllable thing you can do for your health. It’s not too late!
• Eat mindfully. Add fish to your diet and be mindful of meat consumption. Everything in moderation. Small baby steps are more successful than the big resolution.
• Drink more water! (Big note to self included) Water keeps us hydrated for better overall health.

• Move those rugs; you know the ones that slide around without non-skid backing.
• Check those smoke detectors.
• Make sure the lighting is working throughout the house and in stairways — and use them. Poor lighting contributes to falls.
• Do a home assessment to assure safety ultimately contributing to the ability to remain in the home longer for those who are wishing to “Age in Place.”
• Don’t trust anyone asking for money, even charities. Check them out first — scams and exploitation are out of control.

• Stay active socially; those who have relationships and socialize remain mentally sharper than those who do not.
• Depression and anxiety are a huge public health crisis. If you have apathy, lack of drive and are not enjoying life, it’s time. The stigmas that keep people in a place of sadness or simply “flat” are worse than the remedy. Do something about it this year. You don’t have to live life in a fog. Talk to your doctor.

Anticipatory guidance
Life will change, we all get older, start preparing now. Do those advance directives this year. Update if you already have them. Make your wishes be known. Do your family a favor and stop avoiding future planning because you are afraid or in denial. You won’t die one day sooner because you met with an elder law attorney.

Take control of your destiny and rest easy with peace of mind that you will get what you want as you age not what others are guessing you want or what they think is best. Have a happy, healthy New Year!

Jill Rosner is a registered nurse, certified geriatric care manager and owner of Rosner Healthcare Navigation. She provides patient advocacy and care management services to clients with health and aging issues. Contact her at JillRosnerRN@aol.com.

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