When I was old enough to be aware of the numerous activities my parents participated in, I realized how healthy and happy they were. They were far more social than I ever thought of being as they attended their clubs and meetings. They also spent hours outdoors in the summer and indoors during the winter months. Their activities included square and round dancing, roller and ice skating, riding three-wheel Honda’s with other relatives (still legal in those days), camping, walking outdoors or at the local mall, and much more. They were always on the go!
They rarely performed what we would consider an exercise routine, but they managed to stay healthy and in great shape. My mother died at the age of eighty due to complications from TIA dementia, but Dad just turned 91-years-old (today as I write this post). He currently resides in a nursing home, but attends a senior center three times a week. One of the activities he participates in is their exercise routines. We realize that the exercise he is getting does not compare with what he and Mom experienced over the years, but for his age he is at least trying to maintain some level of strength and wellbeing.
What They Can Do
Seniors need regular exercise as much as any other age group in order to maintain muscle tone, boost endurance and gain independence. They are also able to profit from their efforts by living a healthier, longer life while also protecting them from possible disease. If your loved one does not currently participate in any kind of exercise, you may want to consider the following ideas.
The primary rule is to only provide enough exercise that will stimulate adequate blood flow to all the vital organs, as well as maintain muscle mass. Muscle tends to atrophy during the later stages of a person’s life. They can benefit from engaging in cardiovascular exercises, stretching routines and weight training. In the beginning it is important that you or an exercise specialist do an overall assessment of their current health to ensure that he or she can do all the exercises without much trouble.
Depending on their current condition, they should be careful they don’t try a very strenuous exercise that could be detrimental to their health. Keep a close eye on them to see how they are coping with the routine. Immediately stop their activity if you find any negative signs such as heavy breathing, profuse sweating, and loss of balance, droopy eyelids or mild to severe pain.
Help Them Remain Flexible
Exercise routines should be flexible and appropriate to the individual. To keep things interesting, you can vary the routines and kinds of movements every week or so depending on their response. I know that sometimes Dad does sitting leg lifts or standing leg lifts with an aide helping him stay balance. Every elderly person in the room at the time has someone standing with them to help them stay balanced.
The goal is to help them maintain or boost their strength and flexibility. You may or may not want to increase the exercises depending on how they are doing, especially if they are considered on the upper end of the age scale.
If your loved one is living with you, you may want to check with his or her family physician to make sure they can undertake an exercise routine. Your doctor may be able to give you ideas on what your loved one can do at that age. Be mindful of their increasing age and possible failing strength as you plan their exercises. Don’t try to push them beyond what they can handle at the time. Even a short indoor or outdoor walk will benefit most seniors and you may enjoy the time you spend with them.