As we continue to practice social distancing and at-home isolation, we have a better understanding of the daily reality of our elderly loved ones. “Isolation is extremely common in the older population, and the end result could be detrimental to your loved one’s mental health and cognitive functioning” (Medical Alert Advice). When this all ends, we will all have a great opportunity to improve the care of our parents and grandparents through frequent socialization and helping them create new, healthy habits for exercise and healthy eating.
Maintaining mobility as we age is essential to continued independence and overall well-being. “Staying active can help preserve a sense of independence too, as well as helping to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression or dementia – all conditions associated with a sedentary lifestyle” (Elder). There are several ways that can you encourage your elderly family members to stay active, and a lot of them will also give them a chance to socialize and stay connected too!
Here are some ideas to help your parent or grandparent start a fitness habit:
- Set up a weekly walk schedule – This can include multiple family members who visit once or twice a week for 15 to 30-minute walks outside (weather permitting).
- Provide equipment – If your elderly loved one still lives at home or in a community where exercise equipment is not available, provide them with a few essential items for them to exercise with. Some ideas include quality walking shoes, a stationary bike, some light free-weights and/or bands, and a mat.
- Transport them to classes – If the gym you belong to or another one close by offers senior classes, set up a schedule to bring your loved one to a few classes a week. At Optivus, we offer Silver Sneakers memberships! Get more information and sign-up at the front desk soon.
By implementing a few of these activities, you will immensely help your loved one to improve their health and maintain their mobility and invaluable independence.
Practicing healthy eating habits is a lifelong commitment, and is especially important as you reach the later years of your life: “As you age, eating a healthy diet can help to improve mental acuteness, boost your energy levels, and increase your resistance to illness. Eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced (Help Guide). Living in isolation can make it difficult for the elderly to get the proper nutrition they need, and it’s easy for younger, healthier family members to fill in those gaps.
Here are some simple ways to help your senior loved ones practice healthy eating habits:
- Cook & deliver meals – If you already meal prep, this would be an easy step to implement by just adding a few extra servings that you can deliver to your loved one every week or every other week. Setting up a family schedule for meal delivery is a great way to keep everyone involved and split the responsibility.
- Take them shopping – Whenever possible, take your loved one grocery shopping. This is a great way to get some socializing in and is also an opportunity for you to educate them on healthy eating essentials.
- Make hydration easy – Staying hydrated is essential at all ages, especially for the elderly whose sense of thirst is reduced (Help Guide). Buy your loved on a few reusable water bottles and explain to them the importance of drinking several bottles a day.
All these ideas can help your loved one feel more appreciated, spend more time with family, and enjoy some healthy meals!
If you have questions about how physical therapy or exercise classes can help with your senior parent or grandparents’ health, contact us today to learn more.