How to Help an Older Loved One Exercise Safely

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Exercise is vital to your senior loved one’s health. Regular exercise can help him or her maintain good heart health, strengthen the muscles and bones, and receive a boost of endorphins, which can relieve depression and anxiety. It’s important for seniors to stay safe while exercising to prevent injuries. Talk with your loved one about what kind of exercise is right for him or her, and implement these tips to stay safe.

Start Slow

Many people are so motivated to begin an exercise routine that they jump in at a level that’s too difficult for them, which may result in muscle soreness, cramps, and injuries that could detract from their fitness goals. Encourage your parent to begin any new exercise routine slowly. Start with low-impact exercises, such as walking or swimming. Your parent should always warm up with light stretches and simple body movements before working out.

Most seniors are able to enjoy the benefits of exercise, especially with the help of trained professional caregivers. Elder care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.

Provide Plenty of Water

By the time the body signals it needs water, partial dehydration has already set in. Your loved one should drink water throughout the workout even if he or she doesn’t feel thirsty. If your loved one doesn’t enjoy the taste of plain water, consider adding fruit or an electrolyte packet to encourage him or her to drink.

Use the Buddy System

One out of every four seniors over the age of 65 falls each year. If your loved one has fallen in the past, he or she has an increased likelihood of falling again. It’s important that your loved one never exercise alone because of the risk of a fall or injury. Encourage your parent to join a walking group at the local senior center, a gym that caters to seniors, or a swim class at a local community center. If your loved one does exercise at home, a medical alert system may be an option so he or she can alert first responders in case of a fall or other emergency.

If you usually help your loved one exercise but need a break now and then, consider having a professional caregiver take over for you. Richardson respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.

Watch for Signs of Distress

Exercise isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t cause distress. It’s important that your loved one understands when to stop exercising. Signs of distress include:

  • Experiencing a cold sweat
  • Having pain or pressure in the arm, shoulder, jaw, or neck
  • Feeling severe joint pain in the knees, ankles, or legs
  • Experiencing severe muscle cramps
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed

Cool Down Properly

Encourage your loved one to bring his or her heart rate down slowly with a good cool-down routine after he or she exercises. Walking slowly in place while swinging the arms is a good way to end a routine. Gentle stretches done afterward may prevent muscle soreness and fatigue.

Talk with the Doctor

Before beginning any exercise routine, your loved one should talk to his or her doctor. Certain medications and health conditions can limit some seniors’ ability to engage in various types of exercise. Your loved one’s doctor will have suggestions for the best exercises for seniors and explain any additional precautions your loved one should take before beginning. 

Seniors who need help exercising safely can benefit from the help of trained professional caregivers. Home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. We will work with you to create a customized home care plan that’s suited for your loved one’s unique needs. Call the Home Care Assistance team at (469) 573-4213 today.

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