Mary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care. Today I'm discussing how to care for the entire senior. Right now, I'm going to talk about what you can do to help your senior loved one fight off frailty and stay strong.
The good news about aging is that keeping an older adult's mind, body and social life active can prevent or even reverse frailty and you, as a family caregiver, are in a unique position to help them figure out what activities will work best. So let's talk about each of these three categories and some ideas on how you can help. The first way to help your parents stay strong is to have them exercise their minds. According to a study in the journal neurology, activities that keep the brain active such as reading, writing, doing crossword puzzles, and playing card games may delay the perceptive memory decline that defines dementia. You should encourage your senior to take part in at least one activity a day that will exercise their mind.
The National Institute of Aging suggest several creative activities to keep seniors active. One creative way to memory exercise is on call. Here's an example, if your parent has a telephone that is programmed with the numbers of family and friends, ask them to attempt to recall all of the numbers in the telephone directory and make a list. A variation of this game is to ask your senior loved one to try to remember the ingredients and directions of a favorite recipe or rules of a favorite sports or card game.
Another creative mind exercise is called change direction. If a parent has a regular route to the grocery store or to the mailbox, ask them to try a different route. Research has revealed that such a technique exercises the brain or if they can't leave the house, suggest a variation in routine such as having afternoon tea instead of coffee in the morning or swapping regular times of reading and watching TV.
Another option is to use the opposite hand to do tasks or even wearing a watch on the opposite wrist. The benefit of these activities is that it will help their brain rethink daily tasks.
Now, let's talk about keeping an active body. According to the National Institute on Aging, regular exercise and physical activity are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Being physically active can help your parents continue to do the things they enjoy and stay independent. Health experts also recommend daily activities in order to reduce the risk of developing some diseases and disabilities associated with growing older.
One of the great things about physical activity is that there are so many ways to encourage your senior loved one to be active. Remind them that many physical activities such as brisk walking, raking leaves or taking the stairs count as exercise and can be done almost anytime, are free and don't require special equipment. If your senior loved one is confined to a chair for much of the day, try to find ways to encourage movement in daily life. One activity is called circle scarves. All you need are two colorful scarves. Put one in each of your loved ones hands and tell them to extend it straight out in front. Then have them make circles in the air with the scarves going from small to large circles. Continue on with the circles by going down from large to small. To make it more fun, play their favorite music or have them sing so they can go along with a beat.
The third method to prevent frailty and fight the effects of aging is to exercise the soul or social life. Nearly half of all seniors who have responded to Home Instead Senior Care surveys said that staying spiritually engaged is a challenge. One way an older adult can do that even if they're homebound is by helping others. One idea is to encourage your senior to send letters or emails to those who might need a boost. A Million Thanks is the year round campaign to show appreciation to our US military men and women, both past and present for their sacrifices, dedication and service to our country through letters, emails, cards and prayers. You can find details at amillionthanks.
Another idea is to create an indoor garden. Container pots are easy and fun anytime of year. For example, help your senior fill a clay strawberry pot with potting soil and then you fill the opening with their favorite herbs. They can then make sure it gets water and sunshine and in a few weeks, they'll have fresh herbs to use in their favorite dishes.
If your parents can get out make sure that they are having regular contact with others, be it an age group or with those who share a common volunteer effort, hobby or faith. All of these activities I've outlined here are just the start. You can get more ideas at GetMomMoving.
As I've demonstrated, helping your parents exercise their minds, bodies, and souls doesn't have to be hard work, but doing so helps improve their health, gives you quality time to spend together and means they can remain independent longer.