Naturally, you want your parents to live a long and healthy life – the same they probably want for you. However, as our bodies age, it becomes increasingly difficult to do even the simplest things. CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities among adults 65 and older. And falls, in their turn, are often caused by loss of balance or lack of muscle strength – conditions that can often be prevented.
In the light of the approaching Mother’s Day, let’s talk about helping your mom avoid injuries and enjoy her remaining years in health and comfort.
Staying active in old age is not an easy task, especially if your mom didn’t have a particularly active youth. Sometimes, you might also have to fight the “I’ve lived enough” attitude when your parent chooses to ignore the health advice altogether. And on top of that, your mom values her independence, and while she appreciates your care, she probably doesn’t want you forcing any major lifestyle changes on her.
So how do you help you mom without being too pushy?
Help her manage the pain
Is there a chronic condition that prevents your mom from staying active? Is she taking several different medications to help with her pain or discomfort? It’s hard to “go and smell the roses” when you are constantly in pain or in a state of altered reality from all the meds. And being dependent on medication is not the best solution, as drugs often come with a long list of side effects. Drug-related dizziness and drowsiness are especially dangerous for seniors as they may cause the loss of balance.
There are a few alternative methods to managing chronic pain and acupuncture is one of them. Acupuncture is a big part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine and is known to successfully minimize and even eliminate many types of pain, including:
- Lower-back pain
- Joint pain from arthritis
- Post-operative pain
- Persistent headaches
- Osteoarthritis of the knee
- Menopause discomfort
The results differ from patient to patient, but wouldn’t it be great if your mom could eliminate one of the painkillers she takes or at least lower the dosage and frequency? Acupuncture is worth trying, and at Women in Wellness we treat many patients with chronic pains who might be hesitant at first, but soon learn to appreciate acupuncture.
Help her find the right exercise
And we are not talking about getting your mom a gym membership. At this point, the goal of exercise is not so much to build muscles or develop endurance, but rather to maintain agility, flexibility and muscle strength. The time of body building has passed, now is the time for body maintenance. There are different ways your mom could exercise, and it all depends on her personal preferences. Here are a few ideas:
- If your mom enjoys the outdoors, walking a few laps around the neighborhood before sunset can be a perfect cardio workout. Better yet, she could invite a friend or walk the dog to keep her company.
- Is she into dancing? There could be local dance classes or meet-ups for people her age – it’s easier to be active when you are surrounded by active people.
- Swimming and water exercises are also great for keeping the muscles toned and joints flexible. Water makes it easier on the joints for people with arthritis and other chronic pains.
- Get your mom a gaming console such as a Wii U. Most of these consoles come with a sensor that can track your motion and plenty of fitness games, from virtual hula-hooping to tennis, bowling and many other fun activities.
Be sure to consult with your mom’s doctor to make sure that a specific exercise is in line with her health. Exercising in old age should be done with care and preferably under supervision or in someone else’s company, just to be on the safe side.
Help her nourish her body
It’s never too late to start eating right. But it might be more difficult to change your eating habits in the old age, especially after years of not putting much thought into the diet. It’s important now more than ever for your mom to nourish her body in a healthy way. Her metabolism and immunity are not as strong as they used to be, and her medical conditions may require avoiding certain foods.
Besides, eating out or switching to frozen dinners might be tempting now, when cooking for one person doesn’t seem worth the effort. Talk to a professional nutritionist about a healthy dietary plan for your mom. Help her plan her meals, prepare the food or buy groceries – whichever she needs help with. Whole food supplements are often used to fill the nutrition gaps, helping your mom sharpen her mind and give her energy to be active.
Nutrition, exercise and pain management are the keys to helping your mom stay happy and healthy as she gets older. She could be already doing a great job taking care of her health or she might need a little guidance and motivation. You won’t know until you ask or, better yet, visit her this Mother’s Day. Ask her about her plans, check if her fridge is full (and what it’s filled with) and see if she needs help with anything. Some stubborn moms may refuse to ask for help or admit that they feel lonely – it’s up to you to see beyond her words and into her heart.