During the late stages of life, many people feel discouraged when getting involved in fitness because they are concerned about injury, falls, or chronic health conditions. Here are some tips on how to get your loved one/patient started in reaping the rewards of safe exercise. No matter what age, adding activity and movement into his/her lifestyle will greatly improve the quality of life. There are lots of different activities we can do that won’t seem like exercise. Even if your patient is house-bound, we can always find ways to keep them active. It is very important to keep our bodies moving. This will keep us strong, energetic, and healthy while aging and a big factor in keeping your loved one/patient thriving. Please consult your physician before getting started. We want to be sure that we know if there are certain activities you should not engage in.
Benefits of exercising
- Losing weight
- Balance and flexibility
- Improved sleep
- Very good for your brain
- Improves mobility
- Improving the immune system
- healthy blood pressure and heart
Sitting down exercises
Simply have your loved one/patient sit in a chair, wheel chair, or couch etc. Turn on some music and hand them a light object, such as a scarf. The scarf is fun to use. It flows and it’s fun to watch move while also it is relaxing and they also get that movement in at the same time. Hold something in your hand as well and move the object up down, side to side . This way, they can do it with you. Also, have them open and close their hands, clap, move each leg, tap their feet, lift their legs, and other such small movements. This makes it fun and more exciting and will give your patient motivation. The one-on-one time and the interaction is important especially when we are joining them in the exercise.
Standing up exercises
Play some music and go through the motions of a particular exercise with your patient. This makes it easier for them to have something to follow. You can do some hokey pokey motions as well as having them hold on to something and take turns moving each side of their body – slight tapping, clapping, up and down slight motions, opening and closing their hands, etc.
Exercising by assisting with daily routines
Have your patient assist with folding laundry, putting away groceries, assisting you with meal prep, straightening out a drawer, assisting with the vacuum, etc. This will make your patient feel important and needed. At the same time, they’re keeping active and exercised without feeling like they are exercising. This is great one-on-one time. Also to keep your loved one engaged in healthy activity, play games with them, bring out some paint, a coloring book, puzzles, play-dough, count change with them, and many other activities such as these that engage their motor skills. These things are good for their mind as well as manipulative skills.
Taking small walks around the house is great. If your client doesn’t want to go for a walk, then make it fun for them. Don’t mention we are going to exercise. Try saying: “I would like to show you something”. Take them to their photos on the wall and ask questions about them. Then, take them to different places in the house and ask questions about their nick-knacks and other memorabilia. This keeps them using their minds. Take them outside and ask about their flowers, plants. You are not only keeping them mentally stimulated, but you are also keeping them moving and active.
Have your patient carefully slide their legs back and forth one at a time, up and down. Have them lift their arms up, stretching as far as they can. Range of motion, squeezing their hand, opening and closing their hands, and other movements will help stimulate their blood flow. If Your loved one can’t move on their own, this is when we hold their arms and legs and do soft range of motion exercises for them. Keeping their bodies exercised is very important. We want to encourage them to get up to go to the bathroom (with our assistance) as we want to keep them moving as long as we possibly can. It is important they stretch out since we don’t want their muscles to stiffen up.
Keeping your loved one active
Go for a walk around the block, take them to check the mail, take your loved one to the park and let them watch the children play. Go on a nature walk to collect flowers, pinecones, rocks, and point out different animals. Engage in conversations by asking questions about their childhood. We want to keep their minds stimulated. This keeps their mind occupied as well as keeping them active and exercised. Take them to the grocery store and have them carry some groceries. Take them window shopping or a day trip to the mountain. If the patient is enrolled in a gym, be sure to take them as recommended. For us to be involved in their activities is extremely motivating. They will be encouraged to have a companion join them on their way to a healthier life.
I have seen our clients thrive with the care and devotion of our staff and loved ones. We had a client that received care from our staff and because we paid such great attention to engaging her father in the exercise tips mentioned in this article, his daughter enthusiastically reported back to us: “You’ve done such a good job helping my father… So much that it was beyond our expectations! You helped my father so much that we don’t need as much care and we are truly thankful for the dedication of your care team.”