When you already have a family of your own, the time you spend bonding with aging parents becomes lesser as you are more focused on providing for your family’s needs. Your obligation as a parent will always be the priority for you. But as you are growing older and your parent is now older, it is also important to ensure that your parents have their own needs attended to, especially when it comes to health matters. Your gift of time is the only thing they need at this stage of their life, not the gifts and greeting cards but your presence.
Aging can cause older adults to lose the energy, muscle strength, and motivation to be physically active. However, being physically active can help seniors stay in shape and delay or prevent cognitive decline. As a family member who thinks for the welfare of your loved one, you must encourage them to be active, whether they exercise at home or participate in group activities on a regular basis. Below are some of the ideal ways you can help your senior loved one stay physically active.
1. Do Exercises at a Slow Pace
Aging puts a tremendous strain on your body and causes it to become less responsive. This means that you may have a hard time even completing the most basic of movements, such as walking down the stairs. These changes in their body cause older adults to shy away from doing exercise because they’re afraid to fall and fail. Some older adults are hesitant to join exercise groups and local gyms due to their inability to keep up with others. If you encourage your senior loved one to do exercises at a slow and steady pace, they may be encouraged to stay active, which keeps the body in good condition.
2. Provide Them With Hydrating Beverages
Dehydration affects physical and mental health. If your loved one does not drink enough water, they may experience sluggishness and fatigue that inhibit their ability to exercise. You must provide them with plenty of hydrating beverages. Encourage your loved ones to drink an adequate amount of water every day so that they can continue staying healthy as they age. If your senior loved one is hydrated, they can minimize the risk of dizziness and lack of balance. As a result, your senior loved ones may be willing to spend more time getting physically active instead of shying away from it because of the fatigue that comes from dehydration.
3. Make It More Fun
Physical activity may get your loved ones to think about and pursue exercise, which can help them stay active at home for a long time. However, you must make it fun for your loved one to stay physically active so that it becomes a habit rather than an obligation. You can do this by signing them up for fitness programs in their neighborhood using your fitness tracker, joining a local fitness class, and setting up exercises in their home. Or you can have your loved one enjoy going outside and walking to the park or playing games with you on a game day. Introduce changes like these so they will be more enthusiastic about exercising as they grow older.
4. Get Proper Equipment & Gear
Encourage your loved ones to get the proper exercise equipment for their homes, such as agility and balance training, think yoga mat or stability ball. If your loved one is lacking these types of equipment, they may not be able to work on their balance and mobility. As a result, they may become scared of falling, which can cause them to stay indoors throughout the day and not get physically active.
As for clothing we do recommend making sure mom and dad have some clothing options that are breathable and easy to put on for their exercise. For mom a great option is the Women’s Self Dressing Magnetic Zip Active Jacket, it is made from a super breathable fabric and stretches well with movement. If Dad has less mobility but still wants to be comfortable, we would recommend checking out the Men’s Open Back Active T-Shirt. With the open back design this top is easy to put on for the caregiver but is more than anything breathable and comfortable.
5. Make Sure Your Loved One Takes Days Off
You encourage them to do some activities because you want them to get physically active and well and not cause it to get worse. So, make sure your loved one takes days off from exercising so that they can restore their energy and be fully prepared for the next exercise session. You can encourage them to do this by setting a time for the exercises so that you and your loved one can plan their schedule accordingly.
6. Encourage Them To Eat Healthy
As your loved one starts getting older, their body will start undergoing drastic changes, and they may find it hard to adjust. The best way to help them adjust is by encouraging them to eat healthy to maintain a good lifestyle. Instead of eating unhealthy foods like processed sweets, encourage your loved one to eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are essential for overall health. Older adults who eat healthy fruits and foods can increase their physical health and keep their bodies in good shape.
7. Offer Words of Encouragement
Without encouragement to keep your loved ones physically active, they may feel discouraged and give up on exercising. You can encourage them by offering words of encouragement. Your loved one could have several reasons for not exercising, such as feeling tired or having no energy. Whenever your loved one feels like giving up, you must offer words of encouragement in order to stay active.
8. Support Their Lifestyle Choices
You must encourage your loved ones to make lifestyle choices that will help them stay healthy as they grow older. For instance, your loved one can live an active lifestyle by choosing to do constructive and fun activities that keep their mind and body in good shape. Your encouragement will not only help them maintain an active lifestyle but also help them have a better quality of life.
9. Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep
You need to make sure your elderly loved one gets enough sleep so that they can wake up energized in the morning and stay active for the rest of the day. It can be hard if they have trouble sleeping due to physical symptoms such as achy joints, blisters, and muscle soreness. In this case, you must encourage your loved ones to get themselves checked regularly so that they can be treated accordingly.
10. Support Them When It Comes to their Hobbies
To stay physically active, you have to support your loved one’s hobbies. Hobbies such as gardening, cooking, and crafting are ways that your loved one can be physically active because they can do workouts with these hobbies. You can encourage your loved ones to start gardening or crafting activities in their home so that they can feel more energized when they want to do exercises after work.
Getting older does not necessarily mean being inactive. As your loved one gets older, they may get physically inactive because of the fear of falling or being too tired. However, you should encourage them to stay physically active so that they can remain healthy and strong. You can do this by encouraging physical activities at home such as housekeeping chores while doing exercises, making physical activities fun and enjoyable, providing proper equipment for your loved one to exercise with. Also, make sure your loved one takes regular rest days and choose an exercise that fits into their schedule. Lastly, you should also make sure your loved one gets enough sleep so that they will be energized in the morning and take care of their body with proper nutrition.
By Andrea Gibbs, Born, raised, and still living in New York. Blog contributor at Serenity Senior care to motivate other parents about how they can enhance their elderly loved ones quality of life.