This is the time of the year when I usually look back on the year and reflect on things we have accomplished and thank those who have helped to make our senior center as effective as possible.
This year has not been a typical year. Most of us are glad 2020 is coming to an end. However, our senior center is still being an important asset in our community.
Even though our activities have been limited for the last nine months, we have still made sure that every senior has enough food and supplies. Each Friday since March, we have distributed weekly frozen food boxes to our seniors. We are so pleased that the number of seniors picking up food boxes has increased by 50. We are thrilled that many more seniors are taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
We would like to especially thank United Way of McMinn & Meigs Counties for their support of the seniors. Not only did they continue to provide funding to our center that we used to provide necessities to our seniors, they also collected and distributed funds for a relief program that helped those in need. Our seniors were especially grateful for this help.
A big thank you to Walgreen’s for providing a drive-by flu shot clinic. Also, Etowah Gentle Dental and Hospice of Chattanooga for helping and providing goodies for the seniors getting a flu shot.
We also want to thank Cassie Taylor and Diane Hopkins of Hospice of Chattanooga for providing supplies to our seniors and assisting in one of our drive-in bingo games.
We also want to thank our volunteers that have helped to make sure our seniors have food and necessities. Thanks to Henry Norwood, Lana Tallent, Sandra Liner, Janis Wenzel, Bill Love, Tim Walker, Cynthia Leslie, and Linda Morrow. We are also grateful to Laurie White and Babs Patterson who help deliver food boxes to those who could not pick them up. The center would not be such a great asset to the community without these people.
If any of you know of a senior who is in need, please call the center at 423-781-7632. If we don’t answer, please leave a message and we will get back to you. The seniors do not have to live in McMinn County.
Now we will talk about how you can make a difference in your life in the coming year.
Each January is a good time to take a good look back at your life during the previous year. It doesn’t matter if you are a senior or a teenager, we all could have done some things different that would have improved ourselves.
There are some questions that you can ask yourself to see what went wrong and what went right in 2020. Ask yourself the following questions to see just how you may be able to improve your life in 2021.
• Did I use my time wisely? Time is our most precious resource. We have so little of it and we don’t know when it will run out. So, when you look back on your year, think about how you spent your time. What can you do to better manage it? How you use your time impacts everything else.
• Did I take things for granted? Just as important as looking at our accomplishments is appreciating our blessings. There are many things we take for granted every day, which we are lucky to have, such as food, water, shelter, friends, family, safety, health, and freedom. Appreciate what you have and understand that you have an opportunity that many others may not get.
• Did I take care of my health? We need to be aware of our physical wellbeing. Having good health is something that every individual should push to achieve. Take care of all aspects of our health as it enables everything else.
• Did I achieve my goals? Everyone sets goals, but you may or may not reach them. It’s important to take notice of this process all the same. If you don’t keep track of which goals you achieved and which ones you missed, then they don’t really serve their purpose. So, ask yourself which goals did you miss, and which goals don’t make any sense anymore.
• Did I make progress? Related to the last point, we all set goals, but often they may be overly ambitious. Missing a goal isn’t so bad, as long as there is progress. Are you a year closer to where you want to be? Did you move forward? Progress is the ultimate goal, so make sure you see progress every year and you’ll be doing just fine.
When you have answered these questions, you should have ideas of ways to improve your life in 2021. You can think of some specific things you want to do differently in the form of a New Year’s Resolution.
The custom of making New Year’s Resolutions has been around for thousands of years. The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s Resolutions about 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold celebrations in honor of the New Year. During the New Year, they crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the beginning of the resolution.
Research shows that as many as 45% of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8% are successful in achieving their goals. One of the biggest factors that cause people not to keep their resolutions is because they make overly ambitious and restrictive goals. You might feel inspired when you set a huge goal, but the attractiveness will fade when we realize how difficult they are to keep. Instead, make small goals to increase your chances for success.
Here some ideas for resolutions that might be something you need to improve on. When deciding on what resolutions to make, look back at the questions that you asked yourself and pick resolutions that will make the biggest difference in your life.
After you choose a resolution, remember that it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit. Start with one change you want to make. Use your willpower and focus on it daily. Learn all you can about your new habit. Take baby steps, start simply. It might help to share your goals with a friend. Sometimes having someone to hold you accountable can be a strong motivator.
Remember, if something doesn’t work with you, don’t hesitate to change your goal. Keep trying until you find something that will be reachable.
After you are doing well with keeping your resolution, try your hand at adding another. Just don’t overwhelm yourself. Try it for 30 days and then add another if you are successful. There is nothing that says it must be the beginning of the New Year to improve your life!
The following resolutions are especially meaningful for seniors, but anyone who would like to improve their life would benefit from any of these.
• Update your legal documents. They should be reviewed periodically to make sure they are up to date. Legal aid assists seniors regularly at no charge for estate planning and wills. Call the center for more info.
• Clean out your attic, garage, or closet. Choose only one area at a time.
• Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Shop weekly and have them on hand so it will be easy to prepare daily. Also, if you are wanting to lose weight, cut down on portions.
• Keep your doctor appointments. It is easy just to cancel your appointment because you feel OK. Keeping your appointments to keep you well is just as important.
• Learn to use technology. Staying connected with friends and family using technology makes this so easy. Many families are not visiting now to keep everyone safe. Learning how to text and use social media is a great way to keep in contact with those that you do not see regularly.
• Get more exercise. Start with a small goal. Maybe start walking to your mailbox and back a few times a day. When you feel comfortable, add more steps. Join an exercise program. Just one minute of exercise can have health benefits such as improving blood sugar and increasing endurance. Soon we will resume our exercise classes here at the center.
• Cut out sugar from your diet. There are so many health benefits from reducing the sugar in your diet.
• When shopping, park your car further from the entrance so you will walk more.
• Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator.
• While watching television, get up and walk during commercials.
• Cut down on smoking and alcohol consumption. Just decreasing the amount can have tremendous health benefits.
• Read more. Read newspapers, books, and magazines. Read about things you are unfamiliar about. Reading is a wonderful way to keep your brain healthy. We have plenty of books and magazines at the center for you to enjoy.
• Keep a journal. Write down things you remember from your past. Write about your feelings. Write about what makes you happy. The possibilities are endless. This journal will be a wonderful way to pass your feelings and memories down to others in your family.
• Fall-proof your home. Don’t wait until you have a fall. Remove any hazard that could be an obstacle. Put down slip resistant mats on places that are slippery. Do exercises to improve your balance.
• Promise yourself to ask for help when you need it. Remember that you will not be a bother to people when you need something.
• Explore new volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community and it also benefits your own health.
• Resolve to challenge your brain daily. Work crosswords or other puzzles. Work on a hobby. Learn how to do new things. Learn a new language. These brain activities will help keep your cognitive skills sharp and reduces the chance of experiencing memory loss.
• Promise yourself to get enough sleep — at least seven to eight hours each night. Avoid taking naps late in the day if that causes you to not sleep well at night.
We are in the planning stages to provide more safe activities here at the center. The governor has issued an executive order limiting the number of people that can gather. Hopefully soon we can all get back together here at the center and continue to make a difference in the lives or our seniors. Keep watching here for updates about upcoming events.
We are all so thrilled that the COVID vaccine has been approved. Please listen to your local news on when you will be able to receive the vaccine. We all strongly urge you to take the vaccine when it is available for seniors. We will also post here when you will be able to receive it.
Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.