Six months ago, many older adults set New Year’s resolutions to improve their health and well-being. In fact, nearly half (44 percent) of all health care consumers say they adopted new health habits or goals because of COVID-19, and another 1 in 10 consumers (12 percent) say they have thought about doing so, according to CVS Health’s 2022 Health Care Insights Study.
Whether older adults’ goals include taking more walks, eating healthier foods, trying yoga for the first time or just focusing more on themselves, 2022’s mid-point represents a pivotal moment for older adults to reflect on one important question: How are you doing with the health goals you set in January?
While the responses may vary, now is the time to reset your goals and continue establishing new healthy habits to ensure your best health. Feeling empowered, staying motivated and leveraging the right resources will help older adults transform their health goals into actionable and manageable steps.
Here are six tips older adults can follow to revise and achieve their health goals, over the next six months and beyond:
1. Take your medicines as directed
According to CVS Health’s 2022 Health Care Insights Study, 57 percent of physicians caring for patients with long-term disease are concerned their patients do not take their medicines as directed.
Our research shows one important reason why this is happening: 90 percent of providers identify the cost of medical care as a key concern for their patients aged 65+. The good news is many organizations are working to ease this burden. For instance, all our 2022 Aetna Individual Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans increased prescription drug days’ supply to a maximum of 100 days for tier 1-4 drugs. Also, to provide extra support for low-income members, many Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs) offer prescription drugs at no out-of-pocket cost.
2. Ask your provider how your environment and lifestyle may impact your health
Consumers want more communication with their primary care providers (PCPs). According to our 2022 Health Care Insights Study, one in four health care consumers say their PCP is their most trusted health care provider because they understand how lifestyle and environmental factors may impact their personal safety, access to healthy food, ability to exercise and more. Asking your provider how your environment may impact your health will help identify opportunities to make changes and take advantage of helpful resources.
3. Research available resources that promote healthy eating
Want to know what the recommended daily serving size is for food groups like fruits, vegetables and whole grains for your age, gender and your level of physical activity? Resources like ChooseMyPlate.com offer a USDA-approved snapshot of what you should be eating each day for your best nutrition. For instance, for women over 51 who get fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity daily, it’s recommended they consume 5 ounces daily of protein and grains each, 1.5 cups of fruit, 2 cups of vegetables and 3 cups of dairy products.
Eating nutrient-rich and mineral-rich foods, versus junk food, enables a high intake of things that keep your body healthy, like Vitamin D, fiber, calcium, and so on. The USDA recommends focusing on whole, pureed, or cooked fruits versus fruit juice and making whole grains half of the grains you consume to reduce your risk of long-term disease. Also consider eating foods that have multiple concurrent health benefits, such as apricots and legumes, which experts say offer protection against diabetes and heart disease.
4. Identify fun ways to increase your physical activity
Exercise makes your immune system stronger, your mind clearer, and is possibly the key to healthy aging. Whether your physical activity is structured, like a brisk walk, or more unstructured, like dancing to your favorite song, finding something you truly enjoy ensures you stick to it and make it part of your regular routine. Gardening, lawn work, or strolling in a local park are just some ways to stay physically active by making fitness part of your overall lifestyle choices.
5. Discuss mental health with your provider
According to our 2022 Health Care Insights Study, three in four (73 percent) providers say a high/moderate segment of their patients face mental health issues. The good news is providers believe mental health workers are valuable resources for their patient population, with more than half of providers (57 percent) noting that having access to mental health professionals would be “very helpful” to their patients.
Mental health services can be extremely valuable, especially for older patients taking specialty medicines for complex health problems. For instance, our research found 82 percent of patients in this category think mental health counseling is either “very” or “somewhat” important.
6. Find ways to build new lasting friendships
As you age, social connection is critical to maintaining good health. For example, Mental Health America’s online support community offers around-the-clock support and communication for those who need a listening ear. Similarly, the Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line (1-800-971-0016) provides adults over 60 both 24/7 assistance and outreach services.
With nearly one in four consumers (22 percent) saying they care more about their health today than ever before because of the pandemic, now is the time to aid older adults in achieving their 2022 health goals. By leveraging available resources, finding support and building trust with their PCPs, older adults will be on the right track to achieving their yearly health and wellness goals.