This is arguably the most important piece of advice as we continue to negotiate our way through this pandemic. We are all dealing with a new way of doing things, a new way of living. Routine as we once knew it is gone yet there are certain activities we do each day like getting up/going to bed, eating and exercise and doing these well is essential if we want to live well at home.
Dr Patricia O’Sullivan, Consultant Geriatrician at Cork University Hospital (CUH) says having set times to do these things each day makes life easier. Doing one thing we enjoy each day is also important, so gardening, listening to music or reading. If you haven’t already thought about taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill like photography, arts and craft, or playing an instrument then the advice is to do so. Evidence shows taking up a new activity can reduce stress, enhance confidence and give a sense of achievement. Take time also to keep our brains healthy by completing brain-stimulating activities such as crosswords, Sudoku and word searches.
Most importantly Dr O’Sullivan says we need to ensure we are getting a good night’s sleep. So even though we may not be running around as much as we once did, it is important to get adequate sleep to ensure that we feel well and have energy the next day. Ensure the bedroom is quiet, dark and at a comfortable temperature and avoid technology, large meals or caffeine (this includes chocolate) before bedtime. If you do feel tired Dr O’Sullivan suggests maybe taking a short nap during the day (maximum 40 minutes) and doing the most tiring tasks when we have the most energy — think for instance about preparing the dinner early at maybe 10am.
Older people need to think about how they can make life easier, so for instance think about using raised flower beds in the garden so you don’t need to bend down to ground level. There are many aids and appliances that can make life easier — appliances like shower seats and rails for people who find it difficult to stand in the shower for long periods of time. Adaptive aids to assist with cooking, cleaning or completing self-care can help to live your life as independently as possible.