Old age can truly be the second childhood for some, when they stop taking care of themselves and need a little intervention to get them started. It can be sad to see it happen to our parents, considering the number of ailments that set in with lack of exercise in late age. Just like with children, they need to be patiently, kindly but firmly brought back into the spirit of looking forward to a healthy and fit old age.
For this, we need to understand their stage of life. Activity levels tend to decrease with age for multiple reasons, that include reduced mobility and health ailments. They have retired from their jobs and do not have a plan for the next stage of their life. However, it is not a choice - staying active after 60 years is doubly important because it retains strength, stimulates thinking, keeps ailments like Alzheimer's at bay and helps keep you independent.
Here are some tips to keep your loved ones more active as they age:
1. Encourage And Give Them A 'Why they need to'
Their confidence might have taken a beat, with retirement, perhaps a spouse who is more ill, joint or other body pains or any ailment. They think there is not much to look forward to except bide time. Speak to them and give them reasons to get up and move around. Each person might have a different trigger. If for example travel excites them, tell them they can got to more places and enjoy more if they are fit enough to move around. If it is grandchildren, make sure they spend active time with them, playing in the evening, going to the park or such.
2. Help them find activities that they enjoy
At this stage of their life, they don't want to do things that they dislike. For example the inside of a gym might not be preferred. In which case, focus on the larger goal and try to integrate activity in things they like to do or always wanted to do. Some such options that will keep them active also are dancing, gardening, brisk-walking with friends or family, voluntary activities, yoga. It gives a routine to look forward to, engages them and allows for fitness.
3. Help Get Them Started And Provide Support
For multiple reasons, they might not have the wherewithal to get started. Take the initiative to connect them to like minded groups, classes, event calendars and such to make sure they feel a sense of control and comfort with the new activity. Speak to them regularly about their progress and encourage them. Be empathetic to their concerns but know how to distinguish between an excuse and a genuine issues. Gently nudge them back if you feel they are losing interest,
4. Set Realistic Goals And Celebrate With Them
Age affects bone density, strength, energy levels, and metabolism. They will not be as strong as they were when they were younger. Hence, ensure that they are participating in age-appropriate activities and setting realistic goals that will not take a toll on their overall health. Share their achievements, no matter how small, through simple celebrations.
5. Fitness For Mom and Dad
What they both need is comprehensive fitness that help retain muscle mass. joint stability, promotes flexibility and balance, reduces stress and encourages social interaction. What might need to differ is their personal motivations for it. Some spouses like to do things together but for those who don't, they can take different approaches. Fathers for example may take to playing a sport regularly with friends instead of a regular exercises plan. Competitiveness might be exciting for him. Mothers on the other hand might like a schedule, individually or with friends.
6. Keep in touch with their physician
Speak to a physician to ensure the exercise or activity that your parents ones are taking up is not too tedious or exhausting, in particular when they have cardiovascular ailments, joint or knee pain, and the like. The doctor can also recommend some new things to add to the routine.
7. Stay Active
At their age, they need their rest but when they are awake, they need to keep moving about. Encourage them to cook at least one meal a day, move around the house to pick small things, do some simple house chores that stretch the body. When they need to run errands, as much as possible and viable, ask them to walk to the shop, bank or doctor.
Keep the spark in them alive, by helping them stay engage and focussed on their physical health.