Senior Impact

Q:5 Myths About Exercise and Older Adults

The following comes courtesy of

Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.

 Fact: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Myth 2: Elderly people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest.

Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for the elderly. Period. Inactivity often causes seniors to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses.

Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.

Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.

Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old, to start exercising

Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.

Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down.

Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.

Q:What is a Caregiver Plan?
A:Recognize there are many factors you cannot control and cannot include in your senior care plan. Nevertheless, having some general ideas, information, and materials will help prepare you and your parents or spouse for any future caregiving needs.
The Ohio Department of Aging offers a personal profile planner to record information. The planner may be downloaded from the Ohio Dept. of Aging website at Although it is from the State of Ohio is can be used for caregivers residing in any state.

The planner will be helpful to families needing to know the location of documents and other important information. Be certain the planner is kept in a secure place. This is significant because of the increase in identity theft, where criminals with only your social security number, date of birth, and a few other facts can apply for credit cards, make purchases, destroy your credit history and cause incredible stress and legal difficulties.

If you are a child caring for your parents, be sure to talk with them about the importance of working together in meeting their needs. Your parents are probably concerned about being a burden and losing control of their lives. Many parents are capable of taking care of their own needs and don’t need or want their adult children to help. As parents grow older, however, they may eventually need some help. You and your parents may begin by discussing the future, agreeing to share information and planning for what you may need to do for your parents as well as what you need to do to address your own needs effectively.

Discuss the seven topics on the following pages with your parents. If you have difficulty approaching these subjects, contact the Caregiver Support Program for assistance.

Parents can help by reviewing the seven points listed here and then talking to your children and having your information in order.

1. Determine your parents housing preferences and options

Ask your parents if they are able to do things around the house? Have they thought of living elsewhere? If so, where? How would they feel about relocating to another city or state to be closer to you or other children? Some of the choices may include staying in their current home with home modifications and assistance; moving to a smaller home, condominium or apartment; relocating to one of the many assisted living facilities in the area; moving to a retirement community, or if needed, moving into a nursing home.

One common problem is the number of children who promise mom or dad that they will never be placed in a nursing home facility. In some situations, it is the best choice. Residing in a nursing facility that includes good care, 24-hour supervision, appropriate nutrition with regular family visits and contacts may be a much better option than caring for someone at home.

2. Learn your parents’ medical history

Ask them if they have any medical conditions or health problems you should know about? Who are their doctors? What medications do they take? If your parents are unclear about the details, you may want to ask them if you can go with them on their next trip to the doctor. What health insurance do they have? Are there restrictions on where they can receive health care and specific requirements for emergency care away from home? Do they have any difficulty in meeting the costs of prescriptions, dental or eye care?

3. Who are your parents’ friends and contacts

Make a list of their friends and neighbors and get contact information for each. Where do they keep their address book of friends and other contacts? Is there a neighbor that watches out for changes? Who are their friends and clergy from their place of worship? In an emergency, is there a friend who could keep an eye on the house, pick up the paper or mail until arrangements are made? If your parents live in an apartment, learn the name and contact of the manager or apartment staff.

4. Find out about your parents’ finances

This may be the more difficult of the discussions in many families but it may be critical to know and be able to locate resources. Key elements are a list of income sources such as Social Security and pensions, bank accounts and investments including those that are jointly owned with a child or other family member, assets such as coin collections or antiques. Be aware of credit cards and watch for unusual activity after an illness or accident.

5. Assess legal needs

What legal documents do your parents have or want to have; for example: wills, advance directives such as living wills and health care proxy forms, trusts, powers of attorney? Where do they keep important documents like birth certificates, armed forces discharge papers, deed to home, and insurance policies? Do your parents have a will and is it up to date? If a family member is the executor or administrator of the estate, are they aware of the location of documents?

6. Gather information about services

Are your parents currently receiving assistance such as Meals on Wheels or participating in activities at their local senior center? Are they aware of community services that may be available such as energy assistance programs, adult day centers, homemaker and home health services? Look at the future needs such as transportation programs and home health services. If you live in a different area than your parents, keep a directory of senior services with you.

7. What are our options

Talk openly about the issues and agree on ground rules, including establishing your own limits so parents will not have unrealistic expectations. Share with your parents your feelings, your ability to help them, and that you need to take care of your own health, responsibilities, financial resources, and concerns.

Discuss how your spouse and children feel about their ability to provide care. Caregiving, like any change in a family, will bring on new joys as well as new stresses. Be honest with your parents when you can’t provide something. Ask for help before you reach a breaking point.
Q:Keeping a Caregiver Notebook
A:As tedious as this may sound to some people, keeping a senior care notebook can be a blessing when needed. Good record keeping can document tax deductions for dependent care, explain financial costs to siblings, and be a guidebook for substitute caregivers. We suggest the following be kept in your caregiver notebook:

◊ A copy of the Durable Power of Attorney and any medical advance directives.

◊ Insurance information regarding Medicare, Medicaid, supplemental insurance and any long-term care insurance.

◊ Names, telephone numbers and addresses of friends and clergy of your parents.

◊ Emergency contact information.

◊ Contact information for health care including doctor names, specialty, and telephone numbers; pharmacy information (keep those patient advisory handouts here); and hospital preference or limitations. Include any home health agency you regularly work with or prefer.

◊ A schedule of a typical day. This will help any respite friend or worker follow and know what to expect such as naps, mealtimes and TV or radio programs.

◊ Dietary information including favorite foods and dislikes as well as any allergies.

◊ Description of problem behaviors such as wandering, agitation, locking him or herself in the bathroom.

◊ If your parent has some dementia and asks repeated questions, make a list of the correct answers for any homecare worker or friends to follow.
Q:What can Help Me Deal with the Physical and Emotional Burdens of Caregiving for a Loved One
A:Listed below are a series of senior care recommendations dealing with caregiver concerns, both physical and emotional.

◊ Do not allow the person in your care to take unfair advantage of you by being overly demanding.

◊ Live one day at a time.

◊ List priorities, decide what to leave undone, and think of ways to streamline the work.

◊ When doing a long, boring task, use the time to relax or listen to music.

◊ Find time for regular exercise to increase your energy (even if you can only stretch in place).

◊ Concentrate on getting relaxed sleep rather than more sleep.

◊ Take several short rests to get adequate sleep.

◊ Set aside time for prayer and reflection.

◊ Practice deep breathing and learn to meditate to empty your mind of all troubles.

◊ Realize your own limitations and accept them.

◊ Claim time for yourself.

◊ Allow your self-esteem to rise because you have discovered hidden skills and talents.

◊ Make sure your goals are realistic - you may be unable to do everything you could before.

◊ Keep your nutrition balanced - do not fall into a “toast and tea” habit.

◊ Treat yourself to a massage.

◊ Keep up with outside friends and activities.

◊ Spread the word that help will be gratefully received and allow friends to help with respite care.

◊ Delegate jobs to others. Keep a list of tasks you need to have done and assign specific ones when people offer to help.

◊ Share your concerns and dilemmas with a friend.

◊ Join a support group, or start one (to share ideas and resources).

◊ Use respite care when needed.

◊ Communicate openly and honestly with people whom you feel should do more to help.

◊ When you visit your own doctor, be sure to explain your caregiving responsibilities, not just your symptoms.

◊ Allow yourself to feel the emotions you feel without guilt. They are natural and very human.

◊ Unload your anger and frustration by writing it down.

◊ Let yourself cry and sob.

◊ Know that you are providing a very important service to someone you love.