Has your elderly relative asked you for help in being more active? Does their doctor suggest incorporating some exercise? If your aging loved one is seeking ways to get more active, but struggle with limited mobility, it can be difficult to get an exercise regimen started.
It’s especially hard to get involved in exercise when the elderly adult relies on family caregivers to help with everyday tasks like laundry, meal preparation and getting dressed. Elderly adults that don’t live independently will certainly rely on their family members to also help them with exercise.
Here are 10 tips for getting seniors to exercise:
1. Pick an enjoyable exercise: There are many exercise options for seniors with chronic conditions or limited mobility. Among the most common are walking, chair aerobics, tai chi, yoga, dancing, weight training, and swimming.
2. Inject some fun into it: Exercise is hard work, so seniors might as well have some fun in the process. Include music, podcasts, TV shows, and more to liven up the activity and make it interesting.
3. Create an exercise schedule: It’s much easier to adhere to a schedule so family caregivers and seniors should try to make it part of daily and weekly life. Making a plan to exercise at the same time every day ensures there’s no procrastination.
4. Hire a home care provider: Family caregivers often have so many things to do that helping their loved one with exercise becomes a low priority. Hiring a home care provider means that an elderly adult has help around the house, companionship, and someone to encourage them to exercise and be on hand if they need help.
5. Start slowly and build up: Family caregivers and home care providers can help seniors set their exercise and fitness goals, then help them implement. Start with modest efforts and expand as strength and stamina grow.
6. Observe safety and health: Seniors should stop exercising immediately if they experience discomfort, pain, dizziness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, or pain. While its normal for breathing and heart rate to increase with exertion, seniors and family caregivers should know the difference between exercise and something medically wrong.
7. Stay hydrated: It’s easy for aging adults to forget to properly hydrate, especially if they are exercising. Family caregivers and home care providers need to push fluids for peak performance.
8. Expect discouragement: Exercise is difficult and not as fun as many other activities. It’s natural for seniors to feel discouraged or annoyed. Family caregivers and home care providers can be supportive and encouraging with elderly adults, reminding them of all the great benefits of regular exercise.
9. Properly warm up and cool down: Seniors can injure themselves if they don’t properly stretch before exercise and take the time to cool down after.
10. Celebrate milestones: It’s a big deal to reach exercise milestones, whether it’s getting through a chair aerobics routine for the first time without stopping or mastering a yoga pose. Plan on a fun reward after achieving a goal.