How to Help a Senior Embrace Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Anyone who’s ever cared for an aging parent or grandparent knows there are a few universal truths about seniors. One is that they come with decades of wisdom. Another is that they are often set in their ways and have a lifetime of experience to back up their convictions. This can make them resistant to change, and it can seem as though they aren’t willing to listen to advice that could help them make their senior years their best ones yet.
With that in mind, Care at Home presents a few tips on how to help a senior embrace healthy lifestyle changes.
Compromise Where You Can
When a loved one is in poor health or diagnosed with a condition, such as diabetes, your instincts will tell you that it is needed the person to embrace a healthy lifestyle. While this might be true, sometimes it’s best to find a way to compromise on the big issues and let other things slide. For example, if your diabetic senior refuses to quit indulging in sweet treats, try giving them something new (and healthier) to enjoy. Banana and oat muffins, for example, would be a better choice than prepackaged snack cakes. Instead of fighting over food habits, you could also try turning meals into a family event a few times each week. Cook nutritious foods like chicken breast, asparagus, and sweet potatoes on nights your loved one dines with you. At the very least, you’ll know their nutrition needs were handled on these occasions, and that’s a good start.
Get Them to Focus on Dental Health
Proper dental hygiene is important for all ages, though it’s particularly important for seniors. Poor oral health can lead to problems such as heart disease, gum disease, and dry mouth, among other problems. So, encourage your loved one to brush and floss regularly. And if misaligned teeth are causing them to neglect dental care, encourage them to look into at-home treatment options and read reviews to avoid companies with questionable ratings.
Smilelove, for example, is one such company you should avoid, as the company has yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, there are many alternatives on the market that can correct misaligned teeth and help improve dental health.
Encourage Healthy Exercise
In some cases, seniors may need encouragement to exercise. They might feel as though they are in the “relaxation stage” of their life. However, exercising is one of the best things they can do for themselves. Sometimes, seniors don’t exercise because of discomfort. They might need adaptive shoes or other tools to make the process less painful in the beginning. There may also be concerns over money — after all, gym memberships aren’t always cheap, and many seniors are on a limited income. If your loved one has enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, they likely already have access to SilverSneakers and senior-oriented fitness facilities where they can enjoy yoga, team sports, swimming, and other fun exercise activities.
Fortunately, there are also countless exercises seniors can do indoors in the comfort of their own home. The internet offers tons of instructional videos that can guide them through a number of low-impact routines. And if you can get your hands on a Nintendo Wii, there are many incredible games to get them up and moving. Remind your loved one that exercise improves quality of life, and encourage them even short bursts of activity.
Keep the Compassion
Many seniors still feel like their 30-something self in a lot of ways, and they might view you as someone they are supposed to care for. The Caregiver Homes blog suggests talking to your senior loved one about their preferences. This will help them feel more in control. Keep an open dialog and compassionate tone, which will help you determine areas where your parents need the most help so you can redirect your efforts to where they will do the most good.
Remind Them of Their ‘Why’ Healthy Lifestyle
Almost all seniors have something that makes them feel happy. For some, this might be their garden. Others may look at their grandchildren as a reason for living. According to some studies, seniors who spend time with and help provide care for their grandchildren have a significantly lower mortality rate than those who don’t. Remind them of what’s important and you may find you have a much easier time convincing them to take positive actions, such as quitting smoking, that will help them live longer and be more active in their later years.
Your senior loved one has had a lifetime to decide how they want to live, and change can be challenging. But when change is needed, gentle encouragement can help them embrace a new era and make changes that will enhance their life and give them more time to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
Article Credit: Kent Elliot.