Your parents are getting older, and you’ve noticed the signs. They take longer to move around, they often forget important appointments, and they have much lower energy levels than they used to. You want to ensure that your parents stay as healthy and fit as possible, but how do you encourage them to exercise without encroaching on their independence?
Below are five tips to help you motivate your parents to care for their own health. You don’t have to be overbearing or pushy to help your aging mom and dad maintain their health. Learn how below!
1. Respect Limits
Your parents’ health may be restricted as time goes on and they get older. While you want to push your parents and encourage them to be as healthy as possible, you should also understand that each body has its limits.
You should respect your parents’ health needs and create a lifestyle around their limitations and abilities. For example, your mom may have a difficult time climbing stairs. Rather than endanger her health, install a stair lift or a few wheelchair ramps. Then focus on things your mom can do, like improving aerobic fitness or strengthening her mind.
By understanding your parents’ needs, including their strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to help them exercise and stay healthy. Create a health plan that will allow your parents to do as much as possible without causing exhaustion or injury.
2. Be Supportive
Your parents probably know that their bodies are changing. They may even feel frustrated at being unhealthy and physically limited. Your parents may need a little motivation to maintain their health, but they’re most likely to be self-motivated if you encourage, love, and support them in their efforts to stay fit.
Let your parents understand that you recognize their limitations and know how difficult it can be to stay healthy. Then express love and excitement whenever they make an effort to improve their physical situation. If your dad’s biggest achievement each day is walking out to get the mail, celebrate it!
As your parents set goals and you show support and excitement when they achieve them, your relationship will improve and you’ll be in a better position to help your parents when some physical activities are beyond their ability.
3. Provide Resources
Your parents may have set physical goals, but do they have the means and tools to fulfill their vision? You may need to provide them with the resources they need to succeed.
Your mom might have a goal to exercise three times a week. Have her get in touch with her neighborhood exercise group or sign her up for a 50+ aerobics class at her local fitness center.
Your dad might have a goal to lose weight and decrease his risk of cardiovascular illness. Research proper diets with him or work with him to develop a fitness regimen.
Your parents may not be as mobile and independent as they’d like to be, so you may want to provide the resources they might find difficult to get on their own.
4. Maintain Good Eating Habits
A critical part of overall health is your diet. And as your parents get older and more tired, microwave dinners seem more appealing than expending energy to make a meal. But what you eat affects your energy levels, your health, and even your self-esteem. Help your parents maintain a healthy diet.
Before you go grocery shopping or create a meal plan, speak with your parents and their doctor. The physician can give insight into which foods your parents should avoid. And if your parents have certain medical conditions, they should eat food that will not exacerbate the problem.
Talk together about how you can help your parents eat healthily and maintain good health. The doctor’s insight and preferences will teach you how to best assist your parents, and they may feel motivated to reach their health goals if they feel involved in the process.
5. Include Them in Adventures
Your parents may feel motivated to stay healthy if they get to spend quality time with their family. Include your parents on family outings and activities. Going on a hike? Enjoying a day on the beach? Spending a night in a national park? Give your parents a call. They want to spend more time with their loved ones if they’re healthy, fit, and able to join in adventures.
Many people struggle to exercise on their own, so include your parents in your more active hobbies. Perhaps you have a passion for your morning walk or your new yoga class. Invite your parents to join you. Spending time with you or other family members may help your parents be more interested in the physical activity than if they were doing it alone.
Your parents mean everything to you, and you love them and want them to be healthy. While their health choices are in many ways their own responsibility, encourage them to feel motivated and empowered and to maintain their health and fitness. Have questions? Call your local accessibility specialist to learn more about how you can help your parents as they age.