When your parent reaches an age at which they can be considered a senior, you may decide to play a more active role in their health and wellness. This may mean taking them to doctor's visits and picking up prescriptions for them. However, it can also mean taking the following steps to help keep them healthy and well as they age.
Do activities together that require exercise.
Seniors can benefit from staying active. Moving around keeps their joints loose and limber, helping to ward off arthritis. Activity also helps keep their weight in a healthy range while also reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Many seniors may not be motivated to exercise on their own. However, if you plan to do some activities with them that involve exercise, they will generally be glad to participate and will reap all of the associated wellness benefits. Depending on your parent's abilities and interests, some activities to try include:
- Taking a walk around the block.
- Gardening — perhaps in a community garden where they can meet and interact with others.
- Swimming or water aerobics. The water cushions joints and is good for older adults with pain or limited mobility.
Keep healthy foods available.
Seniors sometimes lose their ability to follow recipes. Or, they may simply not be motivated to cook complex meals for just themselves. You can help keep your parent well by keeping their home stocked with healthy foods that they don't have to spend time preparing. You could, for example, drop them off a few servings of homemade soup each week. Or, you could drop off trays of sliced veggies and fruits, perhaps with some dips to make them more exciting.
Make sure they're interacting with others their age.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and mental health is often overlooked in older adults. So many seniors spend a lot of time alone, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. As such, a good way to keep your senior parent well is to make sure they're spending time with others their own age. Take them to the senior center for weekly board game sessions. Accompany them to bingo at the local fire hall. Sign them up for fitness classes for seniors. If you can keep them socially active, it will pay off.
As your parents grow older, you may want to play a more involved role in their daily lives. Follow the advice above to help keep them well.
Contact your health care provider if you have additional questions about senior wellness.