Being physically active, regardless of your age, is a great way to stay healthy and improve overall wellbeing.
Doing exercises with the ones you care for provides them with encouragement and a great cheerleader.
For those in your care, especially older adults and the elderly, staying physically active for life is even more important.
We can run into challenges when trying to encourage the persons in our care to participate in daily physical activities such as a walking or completing a prescribed exercise program from a healthcare professional.
These challenges can create a stressful situation if the person in your care does not want to participate in the exercises or any physical activity despite your best efforts.
This Elizz article will provide you with some helpful tips on how to become more physically active with those in your care and continually engage them in physical activity for life.
Before promoting a more active lifestyle, please consult with a healthcare professional, such as a family physician or a physiotherapist, to ensure that the ones you care for are safe to participate in types of physical activity you want to promote.
Meaningful physical activity
Letting the ones you care for know that “you are on their side” and understanding their goals are great steps forward in building a good relationship with exercise and physical activities. Knowing what their goals are can provide a means to motivate the persons in your care to participate in an exercise or activity program.
Consider asking questions such as:
- “What would you like to achieve?”
- “Do you have any goals you would like to work on?”
Using the information they provide you, see if you can link them to their prescribed exercises or a new appropriate activity they can do. Encourage the ones you care for that they can achieve their goals if they participate in those activities routinely.
Physical activity buddy system
Working out with friends has social benefits as well so join in on the fun! Doing exercises with the ones you care for provides them with encouragement and a great cheerleader. You can be accountable to each other in doing the exercises; knowing someone who is “in it together” can give the person you care for a sense of inclusion and responsibility.
Incorporating exercises into everyday activities will help make them seem like no work at all.
For example, when you are assisting the one you care for to walk into the living room, consider taking the long way around or walk an extra lap around the area. Another example is having the person in your care stand up and down a few times whenever he/she gets up to from a chair.
Incorporating exercises in everyday tasks will make them feel less onerous and provides the one you care for with a more physically active lifestyle.
Make exercise part of their daily routine
Encourage the elderly and those in your care to schedule a regular time in the day to complete an exercise program or physical activity.
Having the one you care for complete the exercise program at the same time each day (for example, every day after lunch) will ingrain the activity into their schedule and become part of their regular daily routine – they may not think twice about doing them.
Make physical activity fun!
Exercises may not always appear interesting but you can help make daily physical activity fun by using imagination and enlisting the help of family and friends.
For example, if an exercise was to raise their arms up towards the ceiling, have the person you care for do the “wave” or simulate a basketball throw.
Involving family members such as grandchildren can make the exercises feel like a game rather than a chore. Playing catch with a softball or bouncing a balloon can give the one you care for a great workout while allowing them to have fun at the same time.
Positivity in numbers
Participating in a group exercise class is a great way for the person in your care to become more active and social.
The participants in the class can be a new social group for the person in your care whereby they can motivate each other during the class and enjoy each other’s company.
Some classes can be free of charge to the person you care for – contact your local community centre or an Elizz Caregiver Coach for more information.
If you have any questions or concerns about how to help an elderly person or the one you care for get and stay active, please consider speaking with a physiotherapist, physician, or another health care professional, or call Elizz at 1-855-ASK ELIZ (275-3549).
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.
You might also like these other Elizz articles on activities for those in your care:
Legacy Building Activities in Caregiving
Alzheimer’s Activities - Stimulate the Mind