September 22, 2023
Reading Time 4 min.

Active Aging: The Power of Movement for Seniors and Caregivers

Welcome back to our ongoing series on a healthy lifestyle for aging in place.

Last week, we provided a brief overview of the four pillars crucial to ensuring our elderly loved ones thrive as they age in the comfort of their homes. Recognizing the foundation these pillars provide is crucial.

This week, we're honing in on a vital component that may be the heartbeat of healthy aging: Exercise and Activity.

As caregivers, our ultimate wish is to see our elderly family members live their senior years filled with vitality, joy, and independence. While each pillar plays its role in achieving this, physical activity uniquely touches every aspect of their well-being.

From enhancing physical health, boosting mental clarity, to even fostering social connections, movement truly is the best medicine.

seniors exercising

The Magic of Movement for Seniors

We all know that exercise is good for us, right? But did you know just how good it is for older folks? Let's look at some numbers that might surprise you.

  • A study published in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine" found that regular physical activity, even at moderate levels, can extend life expectancy by several years.
  • Research published in the "Journal of Aging and Physical Activity" shows that adults aged 60 and above who participate in regular physical activity have a 30% lower risk of falls.
  • According to a study in the "Journal of Gerontology", adults over 65 who engage in regular physical activity can reduce their risk of developing dementia by up to 30%.
  • A study in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" found that individuals aged 70 and older who regularly exercised were 40% less likely to experience cognitive decline over a period of 5 years.
  • The National Institute on Aging states that only 10% of adults aged 65 and over perform strength training exercises, despite evidence that strength training can help manage symptoms of many chronic diseases.
human brain anataomy

So, we see that exercise helps older adults live longer, think clearer, and stay steady on their feet. It even helps with long-lasting health problems. But not many older adults are moving as much as they should.

Why is that? Maybe because starting something new, like exercise, can feel hard. But remember, the first step is often the hardest, and after that, it gets easier.

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Making Exercise Easier for Seniors

Sometimes, our older loved ones might feel like exercise isn’t for them. Maybe they have health worries or just don't feel like moving. But there are ways to help. Let's look at some common reasons and how we can help them get moving.

  • Worries about health: If they're worried about health, a quick check-up with their doctor is a good idea. The doctor might even suggest physical therapy. That way, they can exercise safely with an expert's help.
  • Fear of getting hurt: Some older folks might be scared of getting hurt. But guess what? Physical therapy can help with this too! It's a safe way for them to get more confident about moving.
  • Feeling too tired: Some seniors might feel too tired. But being active can actually give them more energy! Joining a morning walking group with friends can make a big difference.
  • Having a hard time moving: If moving is tough for them, it's even more important to be active. Starting slow, maybe in a pool, can make things easier. Over time, this can help with weight and movement problems.
  • Not wanting to exercise: Knowing the good things about exercise might help. Maybe teaming up with friends, family, or even grandkids can make it fun. And hey, a small treat or reward afterward doesn't hurt!
  • Not sure how to start: If they don't know how to start, walking is always good. Little by little, they can walk farther and longer.
  • Feeling down or worried: If they feel sad or stressed, a chat with a professional can help. But remember, moving and exercising can also make them feel better.

If we show our loved ones how good exercise can be, they might want to try. Even a little bit every day can make a big difference. And if we can join them, it’s even better. After all, moving together is a fun way to spend time.

Exercise Benefits Everyone!

get moving

You know, exercise isn't just good for our older loved ones. It's great for caregivers too. If you ever feel stressed or just need a break, try taking a walk or light jog. It can clear your mind and help you feel better. It's like a little timeout for yourself.

A simple tool to make sure both you and your loved one get moving? Plan it. Promise each other to walk for about 20 minutes, three times a week. If you stick to a set time, before you know it, it'll just be something you always do. And guess what? You may even like it.

Here's another idea: Add a little more movement to things you already do. Maybe park your car a bit further away when you go places. Or, if you're watching TV and there's a commercial, try standing up and sitting back down a few times.

It might sound funny, but you can even walk a circle around the house after using the bathroom or try standing on one foot while doing dishes. The main idea? Do a little more than usual. Little changes can make a big difference over time.

Check back next week as we take a look at nutrition and diet to improve quality of life while aging in place!

That's all for today.

Take care, keep mom safe at home and have a great day!


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