When you encounter someone growing older, you’ll likely encounter extremely active individuals progressing into busier adults – until they eventually become wisened, older adults that we usually come to for advice. However, while the common “stereotype” for an older adult is a senior that usually spends their time reading or sharing stories, a lot of other older adults actually remain extremely active in their lifestyle. Interestingly, you can actually encourage fitness achievement for seniors to stay healthy as well, and you’re in a position to inspire and motivate them to pursue fitness. How does this work, though?
It might help to look into a few numbers, especially for the health on older adults. World Health Organization numbers indicate that there will be as many as 22-percent of the world’s population that will be more than 60 years of age between 2015 and 2050. In as early as 2020, people over 60 will outnumber kids less than five (5) years of age. This means countries all over the world will have to ensure their social and health systems will be ready to accommodate this shift.
This is especially given longer life will definitely bring better opportunities for both older adults and their families but also for society. Pursuing new and old passions, new careers, or further education are just things older adults can participate in when they have longer life. However, problems such as dementia, depression, diabetes, pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis, back and neck pain, and even hearing loss are common among older adults. A lot of these can be resolved with a semi-active lifestyle.
Keeping Seniors Healthy: Encouragement Goes A Long Way
When it comes to growing older, fitness achievement isn’t exactly something a lot of older adults aspire to. This doesn’t mean you can’t motivate them to actually take up a more active lifestyle. When we say “active,” it doesn’t necessarily mean climb mountains or fight the roaring seas in a boat. Rather, this means enjoying doing physical activity either by themselves or in the company of others. And interestingly, this is something that is very possible to pull off. Here are some of the ways how you can do this:
Take special note of the kinds of conditions they have:
Before you start motivating them to do physical exercise, try to take note of special conditions your older adults have first. What body form do they have? Are they plagued with things such as cold sweats and pain, dizziness, chest pain, or shortness of breath? Any of these can be a deal breaker when it comes to “moderate” workouts, so take these factors into consideration while trying to push them forward.
Ask for assistance with a physician in confirming exercises they can do:
Ask a physician’s help to first evaluate the kind of bodies and conditions your older adults have in order to get their advice to the kind of exercises their bodies can handle. You can even consult a trainer for advice on what form of adjustments could be done to conventional exercises that can fit the way an older person’s body works. That way, you can start having exercises they can actually do in their own time.
Remember to start slowly, and work your way forward:
It doesn’t matter if older adults you’re with aren’t as participative as you like. What matters is that they’re actually taking the time to move their bodies around you. Try out first slower exercises or lower sets before gradually moving upwards to slightly more intensive exercises or endurance exercises. The point is to get them moving in order for their bodies to be more active, especially for their benefit.
Let them rest whenever they need to, but make it purposeful:
A lot of trainers nowadays do something called active resting, wherein they still make an effort to do exercise even when they’re resting. This isn’t something a lot of older adults can do, but you can modify this in order to let them rest while doing something productive for their body. For instance, rest for intensive exercise can be in the form of stretching, light yoga, or even controlled breathing.
Set short term goals you believe they can achieve:
Try to set short term goals for your older adults to work towards, so they can actually be achievable. Set simple goals that can make them motivated and feel good about themselves. These include mood and energy improvement, and stress reduction. This at least helps them be aware that what you’re doing is geared towards making sure the priority here is to make them happy while doing their exercises.
Create rewards for them that they can try to achieve:
While you set short term goals, set rewards for them as well. These can be the form of little indulgences or actual things they like. These range from good meals, a good massage, or even a trip somewhere they like. These can at least help motivate older adults into getting themselves healthier in order to actually be able to achieve these rewards.
Incorporate the routine into their daily life, so it feels normal:
Repetition is one of the best ways to establish habits, and what better habits to have than healthy habits? Try to incorporate the exercises you’re thinking of into their daily tasks, so they can easily transition into working out if they need to.
The Bottomline: Sometimes You Need A Gentle Push
Just because someone is an older adult doesn’t mean it’s possible to get them to be active. In fact, it’s just as possible for you to encourage and motivate them to take on a more active lifestyle and have fun with their bodies by exposing them to various opportunities to start moving. Sometimes, it really just takes positive reinforcement, a good motivational presence, and constant encouragement to get seniors to aim for fitness achievement and to stay healthy throughout the course of their older years.