A caregiver’s role with your loved one can truly help dictate the happiness, safety and overall well-being in their lives. Making sure that your loved ones are in good health is perhaps the most important part of being a good caregiver.
From my experience as an Active Aging Specialist, the clients who have caregivers who not only look after daily needs, but who also take an active role in maintaining and improving their health, are often the healthiest. With the goal of achieving optimal health for your loved ones, here are four ways caregivers can help encourage them to be healthy.
- Encourage self-sufficiency – The more caregivers can encourage your loved one to be self-sufficient, the stronger and more independent they can become. Although most people have caregivers for a good reason, I have found that caregivers sometimes do easy tasks that could be within your loved one’s scope of ability. In turn, this takes away a senior’s opportunity to be active.
For example, when your loved one doesn’t have a health condition that prohibits them from standing or walking, this activity should be encouraged because it is great exercise for strengthening the legs. This is key to helping older adults maintain balance. A good caregiver should be aware of your loved one’s abilities and assist them when needed — but they should also encourage them to engage in regular activities – however simple they may seem — that are good for their health.
- Be active together. I have found that the easiest way to encourage seniors who take part in my fitness programs is to do the exercises with them. Caregivers can encourage your loved one by joining in to do their daily exercises, going on walks or swimming in the pool.
- Practice what you preach. – When it comes to nutrition, I have found that when a caregiver eats poorly, it can influence your loved one’s diet and encourage not-so-terrific eating habits. Look for a caregiver who takes their own health seriously, and you may find that they do a better job in turn taking care of your loved one’s diet.
If a caregiver is also responsible for buying food for your loved one, an easy recommendation is to ask them not purchase unhealthy items. By keeping unhealthy food out of the house, caregivers can lessen the chances of your loved one eating junk food that offers little nutritional value.
- Create an activity schedule. – When activities — including fitness and exercise — are included in your loved one’s regular schedule, they are usually easier to maintain. For caregivers who are responsible for doing or taking your loved one to fitness programs, make sure it is done regularly. I have found in all walks in life, when people have their exercise scheduled as part of a set routine, there is more consistency and better health results are achieved.
What types of healthy activities or types of regular exercise does the senior in your life enjoy doing? What are some of your experiences with keeping seniors active? We’d love it if you shared them with us in the comments below.
About the Author: Eric Daw is an active aging specialist and the owner of Omni Fitt. Omni Fitt is dedicated to the wellbeing, health and quality of life of people aged 55 and over. Eric motivates and empowers the older adult population to take responsibility for their independence, health and fitness through motivating and positive coaching experiences.