Deciding to do better in the New Year is a time-honored custom. But the custom also tends to become the butt of jokes when the majority of people fail to follow through. The usual resolves, such as losing weight, saving money and getting healthier, often drop by the wayside in very short order.
USA Today asked for advice from five leading national experts about how retirees can make – and keep- New Year’s resolutions. Their suggestions:
Dallas Salisbury, CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute: Focus on health issues by analyzing your attitude, exercise regimen, nutrition, sleep habits and quality time, including interactions with extended family. Work on the weak spots. Take a hard look at income and spending. If they are out of sync, make adjustments to fend off financial stress. Be on the watch for people who need help and do what you can to make life better for them.
Eleanor Blayney, consumer advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board: Resolve to start early on tax issues. Don’t wait for April to plan to meet this year’s demands and to look beyond. Retirees have more leeway in managing their finances. Look at pretax options such as 401(k)s and after-tax options such as mutual funds, savings accounts and brokerage accounts. If you haven’t already opted in to Social Security, look at your possibilities. The longer you wait, the more income you can receive.
Dr. Elliott Antman, cardiologist and president of the American Heart Association: Commit yourself and those with whom you have influence to creating a health culture. Don’t wait until you have to focus on treatment when something has gone wrong. There are ways to minimize the risk of heart disease and stroke. The AHA is a resource to research these preventive steps. Visit
Carol Ewing Garber, president of the American College of Sports Medicine: Resolve to sit less, do more intentional exercise. Sitting increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Even walking around your house can help. Get up and move at least once an hour. Try to walk at least a half an hour a day at least five days a week. Start slowly if you haven’t been exercising and do the exercise in ten-minute increments if necessary. Stretch, lift hand weights or do other resistance exercise, such as modified push-ups against a wall. Lack of exercise can contribute to loss of muscle and strength, impeding living requirements.
Vandana Sheth, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eat regular meals and snacks. Skipped meals affect energy and encourage over-eating at the next meal. Keep an eye on portions. Retirees may not need as much food as they did when they were younger. Increase protein intake by eating beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, lean chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, etc. Try for variety. Substitute whole grains for processed grains. Quinoa is an option that is as easy as rice and has more protein. Whole grain tortillas have more nutritional value than flour versions, as do whole grain breads. Stay hydrated, and no beverage beats water. Add a squeeze of lemon or a sprig of mint for flavor.