It's important to stay active and physically fit at every stage in life. While fitness can be challenging as we grow older, it's especially key for seniors to keep moving so they can maintain independence and continue to enjoy activities, family and friends.
“When we feel comfortable with how we move, we have greater self-confidence, a greater sense of independence and we're happier,” says David Ritterling, owner of Visiting Angels home care agency, Pueblo, Colo., which provides private, in-home living assistance to seniors. “When seniors lose confidence in their ability to move or stand up – especially because of fear of falling – their muscles fade and they become more sedentary. They don't get out of the house and become increasingly isolated.”
Ritterling offers these tips to seniors and their caregivers to maintain health and wellness:
1. Contact senior centers in your area to see what types of wellness programs they offer (transportation may be available through these centers, too.) Wellness programs often include balance,stretching and gentle exercise programs for a range of fitness levels. Local churches and YMCAs also frequently offer exercise/wellness classes aimed at seniors, and you'll get the added benefit of socializing and meeting new friends.
2. You don't have to take a class to get fit; walking is an excellent way to start an exercise program. Go outside during nicer weather or indoors (around a track at the gym or a shopping mall)during inclement weather. Home caregivers can also provide company for walks and keep you confident if you're concerned about trips or falls.
3. If you're confined to home, contact a physical therapist, personal trainer or home caregiver to help you get and stay active. These professionals can demonstrate how to use dumbbells,stretch bands and even your own body weight to strengthen, stretch and keep fit. Exercise and stretching can alleviate aches and pains and make you strong enough to start enjoying daily activities such as grocery shopping, playing with grandchildren, gardening or other hobbies.
4. Besides exercise, a balanced diet with plenty of water is necessary to keep body and mind healthy. A visiting care giver can help you shop for and prepare healthy meals. Meals on Wheels and other local programs are also options for eating well-balanced,nutritious meals. And don't forget the liquids: Adults should drink ten, eight-ounce glasses of water daily to avoid dehydration, muscle fatigue and to keep kidneys and the gastrointestinal track running smoothly.
It's never too late to begin an exercise program. “When you demand more from your body it will deliver more,” says Ritterling.“You don't ever need to give up.”
Visiting Angels is one of the largest, non-medical home care agencies in the country, with 500 franchise locations. Angels provide help with activities of daily living, including bathing and dressing, personal care, light housekeeping, cooking and transportation.
David Ritterling is owner of the Visiting Angels franchise in Pueblo and vice president of franchise development. To reach Visiting Angels in southern Colorado, contact the Pueblo office,(719) 543-4220, or Colorado Springs office, (719) 282-0180, or visit www.visitingangels.com
This article was produced for and sponsored by Visiting Angels, with offices in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colo. It is not a product of or affiliated with KOAA News 5.