When it comes to caring for elderly relatives, the small things matter: giving them the right medications on time, checking up on them, and sticking to daily routines. Probably the most overlooked detail is making seniors go outside more often. It’s a simple activity with tremendous benefits that often go unacknowledged — being able to exercise, get some sunshine, refresh the mind, and interact with peers. All of these are important to senior health. If your loved one refuses to spend time outside due to mobility issues, here are ways to encourage them and still keep them safe:
1. Tie hobbies with moving.
Older adults sometimes refuse to move around for the obvious reason that they think they’re not capable anymore. Your loved one is probably suffering vision problems or has experienced falling previously, so they might have lost that confidence in moving. The key is to take it easy and make it easy for them. Be patient and at the same time, help them take baby steps in moving again.
For instance, start by placing a hobby station at your covered patio. If they like to read the newspaper in the morning, keep the paper there. If they love to paint, place their art supplies there. This will sort of force them to move from their bed or the couch to your backyard area. Once they get fresh air and see the outdoors again, hopefully, that will make them more enticed to go outside.
2. Let them choose mobility aids.
It’s equally important to give your loved one the equipment that would support their movements. There are lots of mobility aids out there: canes, crutches, scooters, and rollator walker with a seat. The best way to know which equipment is suitable for your loved one is to consult their physician.
Now, understand that some seniors don’t want mobility aids, precisely because such equipment remind them of their physical incapabilities. Be patient. Explain gently the importance of using such aids. Give them a sense of control and independence by letting them choose which equipment they want. Be sure to inform them about what each of the options does. When your loved one is the one who chose the equipment for themselves, they’d have a stronger sense of ownership, making it less difficult to remind them to use such.
3. Involve them in the ‘relevant’ chores.
Most seniors choose to coop up in their homes because they feel like they’ve lost their significance. Sad, but true. When you’ve been hospitalized for quite a few times and are relying on a cane to support yourself, it’s hard to see yourself as someone capable of doing productive things. That’s the perspective you’re trying to break in your loved one’s mind.
As much as you can, involve them in meaningful house duties. For instance, take them with you to the supermarket when doing your grocery shopping. Let them use their rollator in collecting fruits and vegetables. Or, let them help you in maintaining the garden and walking the dog. The bottom line is keeping them in the loop for productive chores when they can.
Remember, there are so many benefits your loved one may be missing just because they refuse to go outside more often. Encourage your aging parent to enjoy the outdoors by keeping in mind these tips.