Caregiver's Job to Help Seniors Stay Fit in Winter

Winter storms drive even the most hale and hearty of us to seek the shelter of warmth indoors. While it’s enticing to stay inside by a roaring fire (or space heater) snuggled under a blanket with a favorite book, I think we can all agree, and studies show, exercise is just as important, if not more so, in the winter than other times of the year. So it’s imperative to get up and get moving.

Fitness classes for seniors are a great option, as is a simple walk around the mall. But what about the transport? In inclement weather, even getting in and out of a car can be daunting. How does a senior, with limited mobility on the best of days, keep strong, flexible and fit when snow and ice keeps them housebound?

Caregivers can help with a regiment of at home exercises for seniors. Remember — it’s always important to consult a doctor before starting a home workout plan.

Ideally, a comprehensive workout plan will address endurance, strength, flexibility and balance.

If possible, invest in a low-impact piece of exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike. It’s great aerobic exercise and will strengthen leg muscles. For those who are very limited in their mobility, check out the Sit and Be Fit series, either on YouTube or your local PBS station. Learn about Chair Yoga, which is a great way to increase blood flow and fluidity of movement.

Resistance bands and free weights, if used with caution, can increase muscle mass and promote strength. Building strength can help counteract the weakness and frailty usually associated with aging.

Balance is a special concern for the elderly. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), one in every three adults 65 years and older falls. Many times those falls can cause severe injuries, such as breaks and head traumas. Regular exercise will help a senior bounce back more quickly from an injury or illness, as well as help prevent those falls in the first place.

Exercise is an essential part of aging well. Exercise helps alleviate depression — which can be a problem for the elderly, especially during these dark, cold months. It can also help prevent osteoporosis, keep diabetes at bay, enhance energy, and generally make a person feel better. If you’re not sure where to start, consult a physical therapist or senior fitness expert. If I’m a caregiver, that’s a gift I want to give to the senior for whom I care. That’s a gift I want to give to myself.

If you are a senior caregiver, consider Caregiverlist’s Caregiver Training and Certification. One of the training modules deals specifically with promoting and maintaining good mobility, and that’s a skill that will make you more attractive to future employers.

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