It’s common for seniors to lose their motivation as they age. They turn from people who were desperate to fill their days with activities and exercise, into people who want nothing more than to sit, relax, and watch TV.
While there is nothing wrong with them putting their feet up every now and then, it’s important for them to get their recommended 2.5 hours of weekly exercise and partake in socially and cognitively stimulating activities whenever possible.
Why Seniors Should Stay Involved
By performing at least 2.5 hours of weekly exercise, meeting with friends, and practicing mentally stimulating activities, seniors can significantly improve their life expectancy. Loneliness is one of the biggest problems faced by seniors. It can make them depressed, anxious, and impact everything from their sleep schedule to their heart health.
A senior who partakes in regular exercise classes is more likely to have a strong core and a higher muscle mass, which means they are better prepared to prevent trips, falls, and serious injuries. In addition, by spending time with friends, family, and strangers, they will keep their minds strong and active and might be less prone to memory loss and cognitive decline.
Tips for Motivating Seniors
If you’re a caregiver or family member struggling to motivate a senior care recipient, keep the following tips in mind.
Take Small Steps
A senior with a history of depression and anxiety will be used to doing things a certain way. It’s easy for them to get stuck in a rut, at which point they may choose to hide away from the world and stick with activities that are safe and comfortable, such as staying in and watching TV.
If they’ve been stuck in a rut for many months or years, it’s difficult for them to take a leap and suddenly start committing to spending a lot of time outside the house. Don’t push them too much and focus on small steps instead.
For example, instead of asking them to commit to a daily art class or exercise schedule, focus on a once-per-week visit and gradually ease them into it.
Over time, it will get easier for them and you can push them a little harder.
Encourage them to Open Up
Many seniors love talking about their younger days, including their former careers and hobbies. Others will happily spend all day chatting about knitting, gardening, and sports. It’s not just a senior thing, either. When someone spends all day indoors with no one to interact with, they tend to open up as soon as they have a willing pair of ears.
Use this to your advantage. Encourage them to open up by asking about their past/hobbies and putting them in situations where they can discuss these things with other people.
Not only will it encourage social interaction, but it will give them a healthy dose of self-confidence.
Encourage them to Use Technology
Most adult children are terrified of giving their elderly parents a smartphone, and those elderly parents are often just as scared to receive one. That said, these devices are much easier to use than you might think, and with a few basic instructions, your elderly parent can be up and running in no time.
Seniors are often just as smartphone obsessed as teenagers. It opens up an entirely new world for them, and they spend their days reading the local news, catching up with old friends, looking at family photos on Facebook, and playing puzzle games. It’s a great way to connect them to the community without needing to leave the house.
More importantly, as they communicate with friends and browse Facebook, they’ll learn about local events and classes, and will gradually start participating. A smartphone can also connect to smartwatches, thermostats, lights, plugs, and more, allowing them to control their homes with one device.
Speak to their Doctor About Medication
If you’re trying to motivate an elderly parent or care recipient who always seems tired and irritable, speak to their doctor about medication side effects. Pain killers, sleeping tablets, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants all cause side effects such as fatigue and irritability.
Speak to their doctor about dosages and timing. They may reduce the doses or recommend that certain meds are taken later in the day.
Make Them Feel Useful
An elderly person who has nothing to do around the house may feel increasingly less useful, at which point they spend more time sitting and sleeping. They get stuck in a lazy routine and it’s hard to shake them out of it.
Encourage them to help in any way that they can. If they have mobility problems and can’t do anything for themselves, focus on mental tasks instead, such as arranging dinner parties, choosing what food to eat, and writing a grocery list. There’s always something they can do, and the more involved they are, the more connected and useful they will feel.