How to ~Lovingly~ Persuade Your Elderly Parent to Exercise for Better Health

Exercising is one of the most important things older adults can do for their physical and mental health, but getting motivated to do it isn’t always easy. Health limitations, fear of injury, and simply falling into a sedentary routine—especially during the pandemic—can prevent elderly people from getting the exercise they need.

Staying active can help prevent many age-related health conditions and make it easier for seniors to live independently longer—something we all want for our parents.

If you’re worried about your ageing parent’s activity level, the following strategies can help you persuade your parent to get moving.

Share the benefits of activity

Highlighting the benefits to staying active can be all the motivation your parent needs to get moving.

Touch on the actual health benefits, like a reduced risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s, as well as tangible benefits and goals, like having an easier time enjoying activities they love and keeping up with the grandchildren.

Let them take the lead

Let’s face it; no one likes to be nagged. Putting the pressure on will put a damper on their motivation. It’s also likely to be met with resistance if your parent is worried about losing their independence and the right to make their own decisions.

Support and encourage them, but give them the space to take the lead.

Identify and address obstacles

Find out what’s stopping your parent from being active. If they’re not forthcoming, ask if they’d be more comfortable talking with a doctor about it. If they still don’t want to share, look for clues that could give you some answers.

For instance, wincing and groaning with movement are signs of pain. Getting easily winded after moving just a little could be a sign of an underlying heart problem. These are just a few things that could make the idea of exercise unappealing and even scary.

Pinpoint their preferences

Contrary to popular belief, lawn bowling and aqua fit isn’t every elderly person’s cup of tea—not that there’s anything wrong with these activities, of course.

Regardless of age, we’re more likely to exercise if we find it enjoyable, so pinpoint activities they love and choose workouts accordingly.

If your parent is a social butterfly, help connect them with group fitness classes or a walking club, or hire a caregiver for companionship.  If they love to dance, try dance-based workout classes or videos geared to their fitness level. If they have a green thumb, a caregiver can help with runs to the garden center or mobility store to pick up assistive gardening tools.

Remember, there are many ways to stay active

Physical activity doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. An elderly person who resists the idea of exercise should be encouraged to get moving in any way they can.

This can mean pushing a lawnmower, playing golf, or going for a leisurely stroll with a friend or a caregiver.

Give them the tools they need

Exercise is a bigger priority in our generation than it was in your parents’. As such, they may not be aware of all the tools and resources available to help them get fit.

Find local groups or introduce them to people in their age group to enjoy activities with. Get them a pedometer or fitness tracker to help motivate them and track their progress.

If they require assistance, a professional caregiver can accompany them on walks or two and from fitness classes and other activities.

Start slow

It’s recommended that adults over 65 engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise weekly. While this is something to strive for, experts agree that some exercise is better than none, and starting slow is important.

Don’t try to rush the process. Instead, encourage your parent to work within their fitness level and set small, achievable fitness goals to work towards. For instance, increasing exercise duration by 10 minutes. Every minute counts and is a step closer to better health!

Be sure to consult their doctor before starting a new activity and for advice on exercising with a medical condition.

 

 

 

Article Resources
Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines For Older Adults – 65 Years & Older. https://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_older-adults_en.pdf
Physical activity tips for older adults (65 years and older). Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/physical-activity-tips-older-adults-65-years-older.html

Divorce Over 60: Things you may not consider and how to handle them

The number of seniors getting divorced is on the rise across much of the world, including Canada. Though there’s a lack in official statistics from the Government of Canada on divorces by age, law firms across the country are keeping tabs and, according to news reports, divorce among the 60+ age group has nearly doubled in the past decade.

“Silver splitters” or “diamond divorcees” as they’re affectionately referred to, are finding themselves starting over later in life and the transition is easier for some than others. This is particularly the case for couples who took on traditional spousal roles, with the wife handling all of the domestic duties, such as the cooking, cleaning, and shopping, while the husband handled all the finances and home repairs and maintenance.

Things often not considered when divorcing later in life

Charged emotions and the stress of splitting assets often take over while a couple is going through the divorce process. This leaves little time to consider the significant change to day-to-day life that you’ll be left with once the divorce dust settles.

Here are five things that many seniors are caught off guard by and not prepared for after divorce.

Loneliness

Even couples who say they’re happier and healthier after divorce admit to being caught off guard by loneliness and how much they miss the togetherness of having a spouse.

Along with missing having a partner, you may also grapple with changes to your social circle—something experts say accompanies every life transition.

Loneliness and isolation is an all too common issue for older adults and a life change such as divorce after 60 can contribute to that.

Redesigning your social circle takes time, but it is possible and worth it for your wellbeing as you move to this new season in your life. Staying in touch with friends and family, attending church and community events, and volunteering can help. In-home caregivers can also help fill the gap by providing companionship and assisting with tasks related to hosting friends in your home or transportation to and from social outings if you don’t drive or have mobility challenges.

Maintaining a home on your own

Whether you stay in the home you shared with your spouse or downsize to a new home, being responsible for running a household on your own can be daunting.

Often, older men who find themselves on their own struggle with cooking, cleaning, and other domestic duties that were mostly handled by their former spouse. In-home caregivers can fill the role of cook, house cleaner, and even pet care provider to make the transition after divorce easier. For older adults still busy with work or activities outside the home, home care services can be a godsend for keeping the household in order so you can focus on your other responsibilities and hobbies.

Getting around

Transportation can be an issue after divorce if you’re coming from a one-car household or you don’t drive either by choice or for health reasons.

Finding yourself on your own without an easy or convenient way to get around can significantly impact your independence and ability to get to where you need to go and even to maintain your social connections.

Transportation and escorting to and from appointments and social engagements are in-home care services provided by home care agencies like ours. We can help you get around whether it’s for the long haul or while you’re getting your new life in order.

Dealing with age-related changes and/or illness

Age-related changes and illness can be especially difficult to deal with when you find yourself alone later in life. Oftentimes, spouses take on the leading caregiver role, handling everything from medication reminders, to medical appointments, and even more advanced home health care.

In these cases, hiring a caregiver is often the best solution. A professional caregiver can take over the caregiving role once held by your spouse and help take some of the stress off of family caregivers, if any. In-home care services can change as your needs change, too, including as much or as little assistance as required.

The effect on your adult children

It’s no secret that many couples stay together “for the sake of the children”. While couples who divorce later in life still consider their children’s feelings, many underestimate the effect that their divorce will have on their children. They’re grown adults with their own lives, after all!

Kids struggle with parental divorce at any age, but adult children face particular challenges, such as being in the position of having to emotionally support both parents. Then there’s also the stress of helping to care for both parents—something that’s logistically and financially more difficult after divorce.

In these cases, having an open conversation and solid care plan is a must. Consider any existing health or mobility challenges, be honest (and realistic) about your wishes and preferences when it comes to your care and any expectations as to your child’s role.

Enlisting the services of an in-home care agency can help ease the physical and emotional burden of being responsible for caring for two elderly parents now or later.

Divorce isn’t easy at any age, but with some extra planning, support from loved ones, and help from a caregiver, divorce over 60 can be a lot smoother.

 

Article Resources
Family matters: Being separated or divorced and aged 55 or older. (2019). Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2019036-eng.htm
Bein S. Grey divorce: Why are more baby boomers ending their marriages when they get older? National Post. (2018). https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/grey-divorce-why-are-more-baby-boomers-splitting-up-their-marriages-as-they-get-older

Canadian Mental Health Resources for Seniors

Good mental help helps seniors stay physically healthier longer, which in turn allows them to maintain their independence and stay in their homes longer.

In honour of Mental Health Week and our commitment to providing care that helps older adults in the community age in place, we’ve compiled a list of Canadian mental health resources for seniors.

If you or an ageing loved one has mental health concerns, you can also speak to your family doctor or contact your local hospital for support.

211

211 is a free and confidential service that can be accessed by phone, text, chat, and online for information on government and community-based, non-clinical health and social services.

You can access it in any province or territory by dialing 211 on your phone or go to 211.ca to find your local service provider.

Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA)

You can use the CCPA website to find a certified counsellor/psychotherapist in your area for in-person counselling or to access online counselling or tele-counselling.

When using their online search tool, you can search by specialization area. For instance if you search “seniors”, you will be given related options to choose from, such as Older adult/Aging issues and Geriatric counselling. You can also search by conditions, such as anxiety, or types of therapy, such as grief counselling.

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

CMHA is a community mental health organization available in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory.

Visit the CHMA website at cmha.ca to find information on mental health conditions and to find a CMHA branch in your area.

Canadian Red Cross

The Canadian Red Cross offers support services for seniors who are living at home, including the Telephone Assurance Program which provides regularly scheduled friendly calls and safety checks.

Visit the Canadian Red Cross website to find senior support services in your area.

Crisis Services Canada

Crisis Services Canada provides access to local distress centers and crisis organizations.

People in crisis and having thoughts of/contemplating suicide can access support by chat, text, or phone through the Crisis Services Canada website or by calling toll-free anytime at 1.833.456.4566.

eMentalHealth.ca

eMentalHealth.ca is an online portal for anyone looking for information about mental health, including:

  • A directory of mental health services and organizations
  • Free online screening tools to help you determine if you or your aging loved one has a mental health concern
  • Info sheets on a variety of mental health conditions and topics

Government of Canada

The Government of Canada website offers reliable information on mental health and wellness topics for all ages.

Visit the Government of Canada Mental Health and Wellness page to access information and services.

Wellness Together Canada

Wellness Together Canada provides free mental health and substance abuse support to Canadians.

The service was created in response to the rise in mental health and substance abuse concerns due to the pandemic, with funding from the Government of Canada.

They offer—free of charge:

  • Immediate text support
  • Phone, video, and text counselling
  • Community and peer support for mental health and substance abuse
  • Wellness programs you can do on your own or with coaching
  • Information and videos on common mental health and substance use issues

Visit the Wellness Together website to get help or information or text the word ‘WELLNESS’ to 741741

5 Ways to Boost Mental Health in Seniors

Though most Canadian older adults report having good psychological health, the risk of mental health issues increases as we age due to life transitions such as chronic illness, mobility issues, caring for a spouse, and the death of a partner and other loved ones.

Addressing issues early is crucial, but you don’t need to wait till you get that bridge to cross it, so to speak. There are ways to boost mental health in seniors to reduce the risk of developing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety or improve outcomes for seniors who may already be struggling.

In honor of Mental Health Week, we’ve rounded up 5 proven ways to improve mental health in seniors.

Volunteer your time

Helping others helps you, too, according to research which shows that volunteering has numerous mental health benefits, particularly for seniors because it offers a way to stay connected to others. People who volunteer experience improved life satisfaction, happiness, and self-esteem, and lower psychological distress and depressive symptoms.

There are endless volunteering opportunities available for older adults, including virtual volunteering from home, such as:

  • Mentoring youth
  • Tutoring
  • Friendly callers support
  • Telephone fundraising

To find an organization, you can do a quick online search of volunteer opportunities for seniors or contact your local church or community center.

For seniors aging in place, an in-home care provider such as Living Assistance Services, can help with transportation to and from volunteering outside of the house or with setting up online and telephone calls for the care recipient.

Get exercise

There is no doubt that mental and physical health is fundamentally linked. Having poor mental health increases the risk for chronic health conditions. On the flipside, having a mental health condition puts you at higher risk for chronic physical health conditions.

Exercising boosts the production of endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that lower stress and anxiety, reduce depressive symptoms, and improve your mood, and help you sleep better. And all it takes is 30 minutes!

If able, get out for a walk on your own, with a friend or loved one, or an in-home caregiver. For those with mobility issues, seated exercises can give you the mental health benefits while helping improve circulation and strength.

Care for a pet

Having a pet has been shown to increase happiness and decrease loneliness in people of all ages. Pet owners also experience health benefits like improved heart health and better fitness, too.

There are extra benefits for older adults who care for a pet because of the daily routine it provides. Pets also provide seniors with emotional support and give them something to talk about, which can help connect with others and make friends.

An older adult can reap the health benefits of a pet regardless of the type of pet, making it a possibility for anyone. If unable to have a cat or a dog due to pet regulations in a building, consider a fish! If mobility issues are a concern, an in-home caregiver can help with feeding and walking so that the care recipient can still enjoy the love and companionship of an animal.

Stay social

Our social networks tend to dwindle as we age, which is why senior loneliness and isolation is so prevalent. Adult children often move away and are busy with careers and their own children, friends become ill or pass away, and illness or age-related changes affect mobility and independence.

Remaining socially connected is crucial for the mental well-being of older adults and worth the effort of trying to make new friends and interacting with others in person and virtually.

Joining a club, participating in seniors or community events, going to church, and getting out and about to meet up with a friend are just some ways to stay social.

For adults who are bedridden or have difficulty leaving the house, an in-house caregiver makes for great companionship and can help arrange other social activities, such as preparing a meal to share with a visiting friend or family member or by providing transportation to social outings.

Take care of your spiritual well-being

This suggestion comes from the Canadian Mental Health Association which says that spirituality can provide us with meaning and solace, help us overcome challenges, and help us build connections with others.

The way to achieve spiritual well-being is to learn to be at peace with who you are and how we do this doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. For some, it’s about religion, but for others it simply involves living with purpose and finding solace in activities that make us happy.

Some ways to take care of your spiritual well-being:

  • Attend a religious service (in-person or virtually)
  • Practice deep breathing or meditation
  • Spend some time outdoors
  • Do some gardening

Good mental health translates to a better quality of life and improved physical health. This is something older adults can work towards on their own or with the help of loved ones and/or a professional caregiver, and if needed, their doctor and a mental health care professional.

 

 

 

 

Article Resources
About Pets and People. (2019). https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html
Mental Health for Life. https://ontario.cmha.ca/documents/mental-health-for-life/
Yeung, J.W.K., Zhang, Z. & Kim, T.Y. Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms. (2018). https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-017-4561-8