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From the Neighborhood Press

Staying Active This Summer

Family members can be key to the health and vitality of seniors. Even if you have a loved one who is no longer capable of keeping up as they did in years past, staying as active as possible can help an elderly loved one stay happy and healthier. One can find research supporting the idea that physical activity is even important for brain health. Here are a few ideas to help you encourage your senior to lead a happy and fulfilling life. You can help make them feel loved and happy.

First, connect with your senior’s caregivers and doctors and find out what physical activities are healthy and advantageous to meet your senior’s specific needs. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page and to work towards the same goals. Sometimes, small steps can add up and be surprisingly beneficial when you look at the big picture. It’s important also to keep in touch with caregivers and medical providers when you notice any physical or mental changes as you visit with your senior. Spending time with your loved one can help you begin to recognize patterns, improvements or challenges they experience.

If your senior’s home in part of an assisted living community, nursing home or Memory Care program, take some time to find out what their community offers residents to keep them interested and engaged. Many communities offer a calendar of activities and encourage seniors to connect in group sessions, over meals, or through exercise classes. Once you connect with caregivers and discover which opportunities would be beneficial for your senior, you can help encourage your senior to stay active. For example, if the community schedules an event such as a special themed lunch, you can find out if family members or friends are welcome. Bring the excitement to them! With Covid-19 recommendations always fluctuating, this may not always be possible. Call the hospitality desk at your loved one’s assisted living staff and find out current guidelines and how you can be part of community activities with your senior. Remember, even if activities do not involve much physical exercise, they can be mentally stimulating and inspiring.

Virtual Visits

If you live far away or if Covid guidelines make it impossible for you to be part of your senior’s life in person, much can be done by long distance communication. You can get in touch with your senior’s caregivers and find out how you can encourage them to take part in community activities and events. Using technology like FaceTime or Skype, you can set up virtual “visits” with them on a regular basis! Ask your senior’s caregivers if they can assist with these long-distance visits.

It can be helpful to collaborate with your senior’s medical team and caregivers and make a list of physical activities or exercises that are prescribed for them. If you find your own ideas for exercise and physical activity, just make sure to run them by your loved one’s medical providers and care team first. If limiting exposure to Covid-19 or influenza is a concern, much can be done outdoors in the fresh air. Plus, being outdoors in beautiful Colorado surrounded by nature can be refreshing to body and soul, especially now in the warmer weather. Try to be as consistent as possible in encouraging your senior to engage both mentally and physically, as they are able. As mentioned above, little steps can add up to become big ones! Progress can vary day by day, so never be discouraged. Every day is a new one!

If you are able to visit your senior in person and help them participate in a particular activity or exercise, consider doing something fun together afterwards that is rewarding for them. Bring some a home made summer pie or a treat that they will love and share it together. If your senior is still capable of going out and about, consider taking them out for lunch or coffee at their favorite local Arvada restaurant to celebrate accomplishments!

Staying active can be key to a senior’s emotional and physical health. However, it is important to work as a team with your senior’s medical providers, caregivers and assisted living staff to ensure your loved one’s needs are met. The love and encouragement a family member or friend gives can help your senior stay healthy and as active as possible!

2 responses to “Staying Active This Summer

  1. Thanks for the linked article! Adult communities are perfect for the four types of exercise recommended for health (endurance, strength training, balance and stretches). When visiting my senior at Arvada assisted living, for endurance we take a brisk walk (indoors or outdoors – Colorado weather permitting), for strength training we grip a tennis ball or do an overhead arm curl with a tennis ball, for balance we do a heel-to-toe walk, and finally for flexibility, depending on the day we alternate between back of the leg stretches, ankle stretches or back stretches. Good stuff.

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