Obesity and heart disease are two of the top health concerns for older adults. One of the best ways to avoid both of these is through active living. Yet sometimes, when arthritis and other day-to-day pains set in, it’s difficult to get older adults up and moving. Here are some tips to make active living fun and safe for your elderly loved one.
1. Make it Social
Turn exercise into a social event by tapping into community resources. Through the local YMCA or similar facility, find a water aerobics class for low-impact exercise in a safe, supportive environment. Enroll your older loved one into a walking group to encourage friendships and active living. If you are sensing some hesitation on the part of your loved one, consider doing the activity together. If the exercise is also part of an important social group, you’ll notice a greater desire to be a part of it.
2. Go Outside
It’s hard to be sedentary when you are outdoors. Take your loved one outside and you may notice an increased desire to do active activities, like gardening or walking. Even if your loved one is not able to be very active outside, the fresh air is good for mental and spiritual health.
3. Understand Your Loved One’s Limits
Staying active is important, but it’s also important to protect delicate joints. Know your loved one’s limits, and ask his or her doctor specifically about what activities would be safe and healthy, and what activities are best avoided. Often swimming is one of the best activities due to its low-impact nature, and adults who cannot swim can perform exercise in shallow water for increased resistance and strength training.
4. Consider Home Equipment
Sometimes getting out of the house is difficult, so consider purchasing home equipment that works with your loved one’s interests. A treadmill or stationary bike can allow for exercise while watching TV or reading a book. Once the exercise bug has caught on, you may find that having home equipment makes it easier to keep your loved one consistent.
5. Consider Hiding Exercise in Fun
If your loved one is resistant to all types of exercise you suggest, find fun ways to sneak exercise in. A ballroom dancing class, for instance, does not sound like “exercise” but is, in fact, a great workout for an older adult. A stroll through the woods with the grandkids can be a fun afternoon together, and also encourage a little exercise. Gardening is a favorite pastime of many seniors, and it provides more of a workout than you might think. Even volunteer projects that get your older adult out of the house and walking around the community can be a form of exercise.
6. Make it a Family Affair
Older family members want to be included in your family activities. Make active living a family affair, and they will be more likely to join in.
Encouraging seniors to get and stay active may seem difficult at first, but with a little creativity, you can accomplish this task. The end result will be a loved one who is happier and healthier, which will make your job as a caregiver easier and more rewarding. Put in the effort to encourage an active lifestyle now, and you will both reap the benefits.