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Are you caring for elderly parents with health issues? Study after study tells us that a key component to staying healthier, mentally as well as physically, is staying active. That's generally pretty easy for me. With a senior mom who loves walking and several active grandkids who keep me running – literally – as we enjoy games like tag, softball, and Simon Says, I definitely don't slow down very often. But there are those days, sometimes weeks, with too little sleep or painful arthritis flare-ups, and then it gets a bit harder to find fun and physical senior citizen activities we can actually participate in.
Some of the ways we "encourage" ourselves to stay active, even then, include:
- Mini Exercise Bike – Our favorite brand, the Carex Digital Pedal Exerciser, fits nicely in any room, is easy to use and allows us to sit comfortably on the couch and watch TV while we pedal away. It's easy enough that even a sweet senior friend with advanced Alzheimers Disease symptoms is able to do this and enjoys it.
- When my senior mom goes for a walk, I try to keep her company if my schedule permits. It forces me to get up and get moving, even though it's a slower pace than I would normally enjoy. It also gives us some nice talk-time which is good for both of us emotionally.
- If the grandkids are over and the weather is nice but I'm not feeling up to doing much, I'll often pop them in the car and head for one of our two favorite parks. They can have fun with all the playground equipment. I can sit and watch. It at least gets me moving a bit and often the fun will be so contagious I'll do a bit more than I planned.
- If I'm by myself, I try to park fairly far out in a parking lot. This forces me to walk some extra steps.
- During bad weather, my senior mom and I will head to a nearby Walmart. We can get our shopping done and get some healthy, warm, and dry exercise.
- If you have a heated swimming pool available, with fairly warm water temperature, walking in it can be a great way to exercise easily. Many of the YMCAs, YWCAs or other health clubs offer some type of "Twinges in the Hinges" classes in the water for just that reason. You can also check with various physical therapy businesses that provide aquatics therapy. They may also offer use of their pool for exercises to private users for a monthly payment. And there's an excellent chance their pool will be warmer than most heated pools. I personally love the temps to be around 90 degrees.
- Speaking of health clubs, there are many that offer great equipment and warm facilities to give you a chance to get out and about and exercise. Some seniors are blessed to have a senior facility nearby, allowing for healthy exercise and senior social opportunities. 24 Hour Fitness is a family favorite and when I was visiting one, I noticed a wide mix of ages so that any age should feel comfortable using it. Some of the retirement communities provide health facilities as well. Even if there is a monthly charge, it can be well worth the cost as long as you go at least once a week.
However we do it, it's vital for you and me, as well as your senior parents, to stay active, ideally on a daily basis. You'll usually feel better, fight off germs easier, and have more energy. And what's really nice for those of us in the Sandwich Generation is that most, if not all, of these ideas work well with our sweet grandkids. That's definitely a win-win-win for all of us!
P.S. Happy Pink Saturday – another fun weekly "exercise" for the Sandwich Generation.