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Easy Healthy Living Exercises for Seniors

June 6, 2016

 

 

Healthy living for seniors needs to be about more than diet and sleep; exercise is important, too. Exercise is not just for the young and it will keep a person of any age young at heart. This is especially valuable for seniors receiving home care services. For example, seniors who have dementia can be strong and fit, but need guidance and encouragement to exercise. This is why a positive, healthy exercise regime tailored to a person’s specific needs and capabilities is an important part of a good home care plan.

Since we tend to slow down with old age, senior living can become sedentary. While this may seem like a normal tendency, it doesn’t exactly contribute to a healthy lifestyle for seniors and can in fact lead to the opposite. Of course, seniors are not as spry as they were in their youth, so there are many exercises that are unsuitable for elderly clients.

When providing home care services, a good caregiving service is to create an exercise regime that the senior client can feel happy with and excited about. The exercise regime should be an added value to the client’s life, not feel like an extra task to do. Fortunately, there are several exercises that can provide a happy and healthy living situation for seniors.


Walking

The most simple and obvious form of exercise for seniors is walking. Despite being simple, walking has ample health benefits. Walking improves circulation, strengthens muscles, and lowers blood pressure. It also helps seniors maintain a level of independence and mobility, which are important goals of caregiving and home care services. Research also shows that regularly walking can improve cognitive function and emotional wellness.

Chair Exercises

It’s understandable that elderly adults sometimes need assistance when exercising, which makes chair exercises the perfect type of exercise for seniors needing a little support. Chair exercises incorporate stretching, cardio, and strength building and reduces the amount of pressure and stress put on the body during workouts.

There are many ways to do chair exercises and these can be learned from an instructor, by video, or by manuals and articles that provide instructions. It’s wise to do a little research to fully understand how to properly do chair exercises and, as always, to check with a doctor to make sure that chair exercises are a good fit for your home care plan.


Yoga for Seniors

Yoga provides gentle stretching and muscle toning that is perfect for aging bodies. Yoga for seniors can be performed at a slow and gently pace while still providing the benefits of increased circulation, lower blood pressure, improved balance, and improved mental well-being. Yoga, after all, is just as much for the body as it is for the mind.

Another benefit of yoga is that almost every yoga pose can be modified to account for the needs and abilities of each individual person. Some yoga poses that are particularly good for seniors include tree pose, warrior II, low lunge, and restorative poses. As with chair exercises, yoga can be learned a variety of ways. Many yoga centers have classes specifically for seniors, so check to see if there are yoga for senior classes in your area.


Dancing

Bill James, the director of the dance troupe Old Men Dancing, once said, “You are never too old to start dancing.” This form of exercise can be as regimented or free style as you like and you can start at any age. Since dancing doesn’t necessarily need to be done on your feet, dancing is something almost everyone can do, even if you have limited mobility.

Dancing is a full body workout and has tremendous health benefits, including increased muscular strength, improved motor skills, weight management, improved circulation, stronger bones, and a reduced risk of osteoporosis. Dancing is also a social activity, so it can be a great way for seniors to meet and connect with members of their community. And of course, there is the added benefit of the musical component. Studies show that listening to music can boost your mood, relieve stress, and reduce depression.


Tai Chi

A popular image of Tai Chi is a group of seniors performing this type of exercise in a park. There’s a reason that Tai Chi is so popular amongst the elderly. This Chinese form of martial arts consists of slow, low impact, gentle movements that are perfect for people with aging bodies or who are recovering from injuries. Benefits include improved balance and stability, increased muscle strength and tone, and improved hand and eye coordination.

Tai Chi is best learned from an instructor, although there are instructional videos available. Like yoga, Tai Chi involves a lot of gentle stretching, and the movements can be modified if necessary. Tai Chi is also a great way for seniors to connect with with their community, as Tai Chi is often performed in group settings.


Water Exercises

For seniors who love being in the water, this type of exercise is a perfect way to build a practice of healthy living. In addition to the traditional benefits of exercises such as improving muscle strength and tone, water exercises are also great for relieving joint and arthritis pain. This is because being in the water helps your muscles to relax and the buoyancy of the water relieves pressure and tension on the joints.

Water exercises require a pool and typically an instructor. The good news is that many community and fitness centers offer water exercises and many offer classes that cater specifically to the elderly. Again, this is a type of exercise that is great for building community, meeting new people, and having fun!


Range of Motion

It is very important for seniors with reduced mobility to still keep their limbs and joints in motion. Even seniors suffering from paraplegia need some form of exercise that will keep their circulatory systems healthy.

Range of motion is a type of exercise that is performed by someone else. In the case of home care services, the home caregiver gently moves, rotates, and stretches the joints and limbs of the senior clients. Range of motion requires training in order for it to be properly administered and usually under the recommendations of a doctor.  

It is a good practice for home caregivers to discuss exercise plans with their clients’ doctors before incorporating them into their home care plans. As well, the general rule of exercising for both young and old alike is to stretch before and after and to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.  


 

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