By Steven Watson, Ph.D.
The quality of life for many seniors suffers because they don't remain active. While it's true that the elderly do slow down and have limitations to what they can do, it is inaccurate to think that they can't continue to exercise and take part in the world around them. There are many activities for the elderly that can help them remain active and interested in life.
Here are 5 tips for motivating seniors to remain as active as possible.
• Find Out What They Enjoyed Doing in the Past - Seniors are no different than anyone else in that they will be much more likely to do things they enjoy. Find out what an elderly person did in the past to exercise or remain active and encourage her to do it in some fashion. For example, if a senior used to hike, suggest that she walk in safe places even if it's to go from the mailbox and back. If she was very social-enjoying activities with groups of people-encourage her to go to the senior center or join a senior's club.
• Don't Set Seniors Up for Failure - It's very important to start slow with activities for the elderly to build proficiency and confidence, especially if the elderly person has been inactive for a time. For example, if the chosen activity is to walk, then start by walking around the block or just to the street and back (depending on capabilities) and then gradually increase the distance over time.
• Set up a Support System - Isolation is a major issue with the elderly and, if left alone to do her activity, she probably won't continue to do it. Stay involved during the initial stages of the new activity or exercise to provide encouragement and support and to ensure that it is being done correctly and safely. Once the new activity routine has been established, it may not be necessary to be there while it is being performed. However, at least call the elderly person to see if she performed the activity and then offer praise to reinforce it. Also, activities are almost always more enjoyable when done with others, so encourage the senior to do the activity with a group of other seniors.
• Expand the Options by Providing Transportation - Not all activities for the elderly can be done effectively in the home and may require transportation to other locations such as a senior center, YMCA, etc. Try to provide transportation assistance so that the elderly person can travel to where worthwhile activities are taking place. If transportation can't be provided directly, there are often community transportation options for the disabled and elderly that can be considered.
• Spend the Time to Change the Senior's Mindset about Activity and Exercise - Don't assume that the elderly person will embrace the opportunity to be active and to exercise. Many seniors have fallen or had accidents of some kind and are concerned if not frightened about becoming more active. Make sure the senior understands just how important it is to take part in activities for good health and vitality. It might also help to tell her how important it is to YOU that she tries to be as active as possible. People want to know that others care about them!
These are a few tips to consider when encouraging seniors to participate in activities for the elderly. Also, make sure the elderly person has gotten the advice of a physician before beginning any type of activity or exercise.
If you have an elderly friend or loved one or know someone who does, check out this useful web site at http://www.keepseniorsactive.com to find out more about how to help seniors remain active, healthy, and safe.
Steven Watson, PhD has been a small business owner for over 12 years and a manager for 18 years. He owned a home health agency that specialized in care for the elderly for 10 years and currently owns a copywriting and resume company in the Tallahassee, FL area. Steven has an 86-year old mother and has a special interest in informing others about how to keep elderly parents or friends safe and healthy.
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