IMPROVE THE LIFESTYLE - Tips from Dr. Marion

By Dr. Marion Somers, Ph. D., Dr. Marion Tips

STEP #3: IMPROVE THE LIFESTYLE

  1. The body was meant to be moved so encourage your elder to exercise often. Many elderly suffer from a lack of physical stimulation, so naturally the body withers away. Increasing your elder's physical stimulation is a focal part of your caregiving responsibility. You're in charge of rekindling life where the flame is flickering.
  2. Exercise relieves stress, augments coping abilities, wards off exhaustion, and keeps weight consistent. It can also increase the power of the natural immune system for better overall health. Encourage exercise at every turn, but be sure to consult with your elder's doctor before starting any physical exercise program.
  3. Be sure your elder drinks enough water every day. This will ward off dehydration, and can be the simple cure for headaches, nausea, and even exhaustion. Consult your elder's physician to be sure about the adequate amount of liquids for his/her age, weight, and height.
  4. Many elderly are over-medicated, so take stock of all medications and eliminate any you can with the guidance of a physician. When you take into account what has been prescribed by a doctor, and what your elder may also be taking over-the-counter, the amount of medication can have a disastrous effect on mental and physical well-being.
  5. Facilitate interaction with the local community whenever possible. Often, seniors go to the doctor for a social life. Don't allow that to happen. Encourage your elder to send birthday cards to family and friends. If he/she isn't able to write, I'll have him/her dictate the card, then I send it in the mail. Often, the recipient responds which opens another avenue of contact and interaction for your elder.
  6. Encourage creative outlets such as painting, drawing, music, writing, and arts and crafts. Recent studies show that stimulating the brain through any creative process encourages other parts of the brain to retain their capacity. Getting in touch with the creative self allows your elder to stay connected to the wonders of life. He/she might even draw on creative impulses and abilities that were never pursued in the past.
  7. Expose your elder to entertainment such as movies, books, newspapers, magazines, music, theater, concerts, museums, playing cards, and sporting events. Your elder can become so focused on current hardships that he/she loses touch with the outside world. There's a limitless supply of things to do, especially in today's information age. Learn about your elder's likes and dislikes and go from there.
  8. Food is one of the few remaining varieties in your elder's life, so have fun with it. It might be more important now than ever before, so it's crucial to fill the house with food that your elder likes, as long as it's approved by the doctor. Consider likes and dislikes and shape a diet accordingly.
  9. Take your elder out to eat as often as you can. This is a very natural way to keep your elder engaged with the world. If your elder is unable to go out, investigate whether his or her favorite local restaurant will deliver to the residence. What's better than a knock at the door and a different hot lunch and dinner delivered each day?!
  10. Your elder will greatly appreciate any interest you show in his/her appearance. Often it has been years since anyone else paid attention to your elder's physical appearance. Take him/her to the hairdresser. Give him/her a regular pedicure and manicure. A facial is a real treat, too, if it's in the budget.

©2006 Elder Health Resources of America, Inc.

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