Have you heard this one? "My doctor said my skin is really thin now that I'm older. With this thin skin, I don't sweat enough, so I can't exercise." As your parents age, they may demonstrate pretty creative imaginations in their excuses for not exercising. In fact, the 2014 United States of Aging Survey results showed that only 37% of people over 60 exercise daily.
Older adults worry about losing their memory and about becoming a burden on their children or families. Exercise can help! Study after study shows there are three critical benefits of exercise if your parents want to stay active and independent for life. Exercise can reduce memory loss, improve physical ability such as balance and coordination, and reduce the effect of major chronic diseases.
What diseases can be helped by exercise?
- Arthritis: Improves range of motion and flexibility, reduces pain
- Diabetes: Helps manage body weight and blood sugar levels
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, PAD: Improves circulation, strengthens arteries, veins
How to get a parent started with exercise
Gardening is actually one great gentle exercise! Another is walking in the yard and neighborhood. Both of those sound easy, right? But often there's a hidden roadblock for your loved one in getting started - a place to sit. Yes, a place to sit outside is something we forget if we can move around easily.
For someone aging, maybe with stiff joints, painful legs or breathing problems, a bench or chair outside can be handy.
It's a reminder to put on sturdy walking shoes. Place this one just outside the door. The right shoes make it fun to exercise and reduce outdoor falls.
It's a spot to stop and rest. Place one or more at natural stopping points. Remember that thin skin? Start an exercise plan with small goals, like walking just to a bench in the shade the first week.
Choosing a garden bench or chair
- It must have arms. If your parent lacks muscle strength, pushing the arms on a bench can help them to stand up.
- It must have a back. An upright back is best. A severely angled back, such as an Adirondack chair, requires too many gymnastic moves to be useful.
- It must be sturdy. If your loved one uses the chair or bench as a prop for sitting or standing, the furniture needs to be stable. Plastic or other lightweight furniture can shift unexpectedly and cause a fall.
- It should be comfortable to sit on. Wood benches are best for sitting in all weather - hot or cold. And, add a cushion for those "sitbones" if your parent has lost natural padding there.
And, make sure there are enough rest areas. Careful consideration of homeowners' needs is what makes an Elderyarding® design a unique way to unique and a true value to encourage exercise for healthy aging. Call or email Second Summer now.
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