How to Help Your Loved One Maintain an Independent Lifestyle
Many of us will end up caring for an elderly parent, and many of these aging adults don’t want to leave their home and move in with their child or an assisted living facility until there is no other option. To help your aging parent live independently, you can put in place several safety precautions, which will not only make sure you know your parent is as safe as possible in a home, but also help your parent enjoy life as independently as possible for as long as possible.
You can help your aging parent live independently by focusing on several areas of daily living. Look to other blog posts for how you can help your aging parent in ways other than exercise, which is the focus of this blog post.
One easy way to help your parent live independently is to help them stay physically fit, or as physically fit as he or she can. The best way to do this is if they move every day, which will help them enjoy life more. Physical activity, even light physical activity, can boost overall energy levels. Climbing stairs (if possible) and household chores can help, as can something as simple as washing hair or tying shoes. These simple tasks don’t seem that laborious, but imagine not being able to do them. These are two ways that someone can feel independent. Bathing and dressing. And a simple way to help someone enjoy the ability to bathe is to create an environment in the bathroom that facilitates this.
This environment could include simple fixes, like slip-free mats, but you may want to invest in a walk-in tub, which will not only age with your parent, but could come with add-ons like spa and whirlpool features.
As for physical activity, experts recommend 30 minutes a day, but you don’t have to spend 30 minutes at one time exercising. You can break this time down into smaller periods of time, like 10 or 15 minutes. How much exercise you get a day is what matters.
Walking is an easy way to exercise. Walking around the house will add up. Start slow, and when and if you can, walk a little faster. Walk wherever you can. Something as simple as getting off a bus one stop earlier, or parking your car further away from an entrance, is a way to increase how much you walk each day. Lakes, parks, and shopping malls (when the weather makes walking outside difficult or impossible) are good places to walk. Best of all, it’s free.
Making exercise part of your morning routine is another way of improving independent living. Stretch after getting up. Start with your arms, move on to your shoulders, and then end with your legs. What kind of exercises? Anything really, but think about standing on one foot for a small period of time (seconds, not minutes), which will help improve overall balance and coordination. Perform this on each leg.
You and/or your aging parent should consult with a doctor before beginning any exercise program. Tell the doctor that ultimately you want this program to help improve the aging adult’s overall balance, which will help decrease the possibility of a fall. The doctor can give you suggestions to get started.