Watching your parents grow old can be a painful experience, mainly because you have to accept the fact that they are no longer able to look after themselves. While their loss of independence might seem depressing at first, there are some things that you can do to develop a sense of freedom in them. Making sure that your elderly parents are active both, physically and mentally, is essential for their overall well being. You might face issues when trying to convince them to follow a particular routine or socialize with others, but if you communicate to them the benefits of staying active, they are more likely to agree with you.
The Importance of Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is essential for the wellbeing of both, young and old. However, you will find your elderly parents resisting the idea of taking part in physical activity since it becomes more difficult for them. But according to experts, indulging in physical activity at least once a day can help the elderly improve their quality of life significantly. Below are some of the benefits associated with physical activity for the elderly:
1. Prolonged Life Span
One of the ten most common causes of disability and death is a lack of physical activity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), regularly taking part in physical exercise can increase the lifespan of an individual by 3-5 years. An active lifestyle is vital if you want your elderly parents to improve the quality of their life and enjoy a long life.
2. Reduced Risk of Falls & Cardiovascular Issues
Loss of balance is a common occurrence amongst the elderly. However, contrary to popular belief, a loss of balance is directly related to a decrease in physical activity. Therefore, by exercising more often, the risk of falls is reduced significantly. Moreover, physical activity raises the heart rate which improves blood flow to the heart, thereby improving the overall cardiovascular health.
3. Better Strength &Bone Health
Exercise plays a significant role in increasing the strength of one’s body. Therefore, it should be seen as a way to increase mobility rather than decrease it. Staying on the couch for too long can give rise to many physical problems such as stiff muscles, poor circulation, and breathing difficulties while walking. Moreover, activities such as walking or jogging can significantly impact the strength of bones which leads to a decreased risk of fracture or osteoporosis.
4. Prevention of Chronic Conditions
Physical exercise also helps individuals prevent chronic problems such as high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes. Moreover, mental capacity is significantly improved with the help of physical exercise, and dangerous conditions such as dementia can be delayed through regular activity.
5. Improved Mood
Depression is not a rare occurrence amongst the elderly. Exercise can be seen as a way to make the body release endorphins that can help your elderly parent feel better. It can also divert their attention from thinking too much about their symptoms and condition. Therefore, to keep your parent happy and satisfied it is important to encourage them to follow a busy schedule.
The Importance of Social Activity
According to a study, almost 43% of seniors feel depressed and lonely. Moreover, loneliness amongst the elderly can also increase the risk of dying to 45%. These staggering statistics show the importance of keeping your elderly parents socially active. There are also many benefits associated with indulging in social activities for your elderly parents, these include:
1. Emotional Health
When your parents socialize with others, they can prevent depression and maintain a better mood. Socializing with others can have a dramatic effect on one’s emotional health as it gives you a chance to relieve your stress and stay positive.
2. Better Immune System
Studies have shown that seniors who regularly socialize with others have a better immune system than those who do not. A stronger immune system helps seniors prevent serious physical and mental conditions, and gives them an improved quality of life.
3. Improved Sleep
Loneliness and depression can lead to poor-quality sleep, and a lack of sleep can cause many serious health conditions. It is therefore recommended for the elderly to engage in a social activity so that they can feel satisfied emotionally with their relationships and enjoy a peaceful sleep.
4. Increased Life Span
If your elderly parents have a close social circle or are in the habit of meeting new people regularly, they will be able to share their worries and concerns with others. This change in their routine can significantly reduce the impact of daily stresses and therefore results in a feeling of satisfaction. People who are happy and satisfied with their lives are known to have an increased lifespan.
5. Positive Effects on Physical Health
When your parents listen to other people talk about their health, they are more likely to revisit their food and other lifestyle choices. This can help them make better decisions about their health. Moreover, a study conducted by the University of Rochester revealed that seniors who are engaged in regular social activity have a decreased risk of suffering from arthritis, mental health issues, and cardiovascular problems.
How to Prevent Loneliness
Keeping your elderly parents engaged is extremely important to prevent a feeling of isolation and loneliness in them. To make them feel satisfied and involved, make sure that you check in frequently if they are living independently. Showing up on important events is not sufficient, and therefore, you should try to increase the number of your visits to their house as much as possible. You can also research the different options available for senior citizens to become a part of the society and encourage them to get involved. There are many organizations and senior centers that host regular events and even provide transportation.
Also, educate them about the different ways in which they can stay connected to you by introducing them to technology. You can also install games such as Sudoku or Word Challenge that will help them stay busy, and teach them how they can use Google to access unlimited information. It is also strongly recommended to talk about safety concerns with your elderly parents. At this stage, they are highly susceptible to phishing scams or identity theft attempts, and it is your responsibility to make them aware of the dangers of falling victim to such activities. You might also need to keep a close eye on their daily mail and other documents. Encouraging them to take part in social activities is also a great way to prevent loneliness.
Ideas for Physical & Social Activity
Now that you are aware of the numerous benefits of keeping your elderly parents physically and socially active, it is time to come up with different activities that they can take part in. Here is a list of various options that you can consider:
1. Physical Activities
a) Aerobic Activities
Taking part in regular aerobic activities has a positive effect on one’s health. For your elderly parents, it is recommended that they take part in such activities for at least 150 minutes every week. You can divide this time over the course of days, depending on their condition. However, it is essential that there are at least three days of aerobic activity involved so that there is an improved balance. Aerobic Activities include:
|– Water Aerobics
– Bicycle Riding
b) Muscle Strengthening Activities
At least two days a week you should have your elderly parents take part in different muscle-strengthening activities. During these sessions, all the major muscles of the body should be focused on such as legs, shoulders, abdomen, hips, chest, back, and arms. Muscle Strengthening Activities include:
|– Carry Groceries
– Some Yoga Poses
– Tai Chi
|– Carrying weights
– Practicing lifting, carrying, and digging during Gardening.
c) Balance Activities
Acquiring proper balance is extremely important for your elderly parents. That’s because it is very common for seniors to get injured as a result of falls. It is therefore recommended that seniors should take part in balance training activities at least three days a week. Balance Activities include:
|– Heel Walking
– Toe Walking
– Sideways Walking
|– Standing up from a Sitting Position
– Backward Walking
Many elderly individuals have difficulty accepting the fact that they are no longer capable of doing the things they could do before. Such changes can be depressing for them and cause them to become irritable and ill-tempered. Be gentle when you talk to them, and keep your tone polite. When dealing with an aging parent, you need to make sure that all safety concerns are discussed thoroughly, and regular motivation for participating in different social events is provided. Moreover, by encouraging your elderly parents to remain physically active, you can help them prevent various health conditions and lead a satisfied and happy life.