3 Ways to Help Parents Stay Independent

(This is the first of a two-part series for fellow Baby Boomers who may soon become caregivers for their parents.)

Twice in the past few months, I’ve received calls from Baby Boomers responsible for their aging parents. My task was to help their loved ones regain some strength so that they could walk on their own and safely become more independent.

Help your parents remain independent with tough love.
Help your parents remain independent with tough love.

Inactivity Leads to A Downward Spiral
What I know in my business is that folks in their 80s definitely have mitigating circumstances that limit their mobility (diabetes, nerve damage, arthritis, heart disease). But the unfortunate truth is that often older folks spend time sitting because they spend time sitting. That is, they’re not immobile because they’re growing older, but they’re growing older because they’re immobile.

When movement grinds to a halt, so does quality of life. Seniors begin to experience falls, dependency on others for day-to-day tasks and depression–which often leads to even less activity.

If You Can Predict It, You Can Prevent It
Many years ago, I heard a risk management expert make this statement. If you know something bad is likely to happen, you can take steps to avoid it.

So, we know aging happens. And we know most older adults tend to slow down as the years advance. Put your plan in place now to help mom and dad age safely in the comfort of their own homes.

What You Can Do to Help
If you’re the primary contact for your parents, here are three tips you can use to help them remain independent for as long as possible. (Note: check with their primary healthcare provider to make sure there are no health problems requiring special attention.)

1) Watch for signs increasingly sedentary behavior
Is your mom or dad sitting in a favorite recliner every time you visit? Is the TV always on? Is the extent of their activity using their thumbs on the remote control? Do you seldom see them walking from room to room or even standing tall? Are they starting to need help with stairs, getting in/out of chairs or cars, or carrying groceries?

2) Help find local activities
Help your parent/s locate an exercise program. While there are fitness opportunities online or DVD, encourage your loved ones to get out and mingle with others. Check the local seniors’ center (they often offer fitness classes for free or reduced costs), the YMCA, your local parks and recreation, city-run classes or a local junior college. Programs must include strength training, not just movement. Pushing/lifting body weight, light dumbbells and resistance tubing are absolutely vital to stop the decline in muscle tissue and strength. You may hear a lot of excuses, so research transportation and try to find your mom or dad a buddy.

3) Be a loving child, NOT an enabling one
When it comes to lessening sedentary behavior, be insistent. These seniors will not enjoy a loss of independence and control, if it comes to that, and hate being treated like a child by their own children. I know–they tell me! So don’t do everything for them. Set high expectations. Ask them to come up with a reasonable, measurable goal that they can work on each week, and check back with them consistently. For example, they can attend a strength-training class twice a week, buy a pedometer and increase steps by 100 weekly or decrease television viewing 30 minutes. If all else fails, take your parents to visit a local assisted-care community (say you’re just checking out facilities and costs). Maybe after seeing all the people using walkers, electric scooters and wheelchairs, they’ll be more motivated to take control of their own wellbeing!

(Part 2 will focus on more tips, related to eating habits.)

Note: If you are ready to FINALLY TAKE CONTROL of your FITNESS, and want to speak with me in an unbiased format, take advantage of my FREE CALL. I promise to give you a few tips and things to look at immediately, plus we can discuss if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.

If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, fill out my CONTACT FORM and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that – oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.

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