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Caring for Parents, Keeping Them Healthy

(continued)

Exercise and Older Adults continued...

Exercising to music is always more fun, especially if the music is your favorite. Make your loved one a special exercise tape of his favorite tunes. If your parent totally resists the idea of exercise, don't try to bully her into it. 

The mall opens before the stores do, and in many areas, people have discovered that they're a great place to walk. Aisles are nice and wide, and it's temperature-controlled.It's also a great way to meet people. Make sure security has arrived on duty by the time your parent or grandparent gets there.

Exercise reduces stress. That's probably something you both need. Do it together.

Consider a professional personal trainer. Even if it's too expensive to have one regularly, a couple sessions will get Mom started on the right track and allow her to develop an appropriate routine.

It's a good idea for someone else to be around when your parent exercises, just in case there are problems. If you or a family member can't be there, this is a potential job for a responsible teen.

An hour of brisk walking four times a week can drastically improve the quality of life for an older person -- or anyone else, for that matter.

Buy Mom a pedometer so she can measure her distance when she walks.

Start a senior exercise class in your dad's neighborhood. A small group can pool their resources and hire a teacher just for them, at their convenience. If no one has a basement big enough, ask restaurant owners whether their private rooms, which are rarely used during the daytime, can be made available. Or, perhaps the local school can let them use part of the gym when it's not being used.

Walking is still the best exercise there is. Learn to enjoy walking slowly with your loved one.

"When I first started taking Gramps out for short walks, I thought I'd go crazy -- each block took a good half hour, which was often the length of a whole visit. I soon learned to appreciate the value of slowing down my day this way, and seeing the world this way brought us closer together."
-Steve Fein

Yoga classes can be beneficial to both you and your loved one. Consider taking classes together.

If your parent hates the idea of walking, ask him to help you by running certain errands for you ("Dad, could you return this to the library for me?").

Swimming is often an option for older adults who have lost mobility. Also, water exercise classes are available at many swimming facilities.

Dancing: it's good exercise, it's a great social activity, the music can be therapeutic, and it's a wonderful way to meet people. Find out what classes are available locally, and don't ignore those classes that are aimed at kids. Instructors at those classes might be willing to start offering adult classes if enough students can be gathered. 

WebMD Medical Reference

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