Guest Article by Marie Villeza
If you have an aging parent or family member who is refusing all advice to change aspects of their lifestyle, you are not alone. It is common for people to become set in their ways as they age, and this can be a difficult situation for a caregiver. Developing and maintaining healthy habits is important for everyone at any age, but it is especially important for seniors to improve their quality of life and prevent injury. With some gentle encouragement and hands-on assistance, you can help your aging loved one start new healthy habits.
Helping an Aging Loved One Make Healthier Choices
Offer to Make Meals
A healthy balanced diet is one that consists of plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. It may be that the senior in your life is not physically able to cook for themselves anymore, or they may claim to just not like those foods. Whatever the case, instead of constantly trying to convince them about the importance of nutrition and healthy eating, come over and make them a meal they will like. You could bring over several meals to be reheated throughout the week, or you could simply just cook them a delicious healthy lunch for you both to enjoy together. It’s always easier to try new, healthy foods when it’s been prepared by someone who loves and appreciates you.
In addition to a healthy diet, exercise is important for a senior’s well-being and physical safety. The CDC notes that one in four adults 65 and older fall each year, and the fall death rates are increasing every year. Increasing physical strength and balance is a great way to help prevent a fall in the first place. Invite your aging loved one to join you outside for a walk or to attend a water aerobics class together. If they would prefer, there are a lot of resources to help seniors exercise at home. Utilizing today’s technology, they can watch fitness videos on YouTube, download fitness apps to an iPad, or even utilize games on the Nintendo Wii to exercise.
Prevent Mental Decline
Actively participating with your aging loved one in meals and exercise does more than to simply improve their physical well-being. According to Medical News Today, social interaction and maintaining close relationships prevents mental decline. Encourage your loved one to not only spend time with you but also with some dear friends. You can help them keep their brains sharp by providing brain games such as crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Engage them in a game of chess or checkers, or help them find a new fun hobby to learn. All these activities can help prevent mental decline and ward off symptoms of depression.
Most of all, when trying to help your aging loved one be healthier, be compassionate. Understand that just as it’s not always easy to be a caregiver, it certainly isn’t easy to age. Often the aging adult can be frustrated with their diminished physical abilities or with their forgetfulness. Losing independence is especially a difficult pill to swallow. When you are kind and compassionate, you will not only benefit your loved one, but you will also feel the joy of caring well for someone and supporting them.
Your aging loved one may be resistant to change and difficult to persuade. By joining in and actively participating in their health journey, you are helping them improve their overall physical and mental health. Then you will feel pride and joy in being a caregiver.
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