In this section:
> Stress management
> Technology and stress relief
> Less Salt
> Lower cholesterol
> Coping with guilt
> Be more assertive
> Boost your immune system
> Tempt your elderly relatives outdoors
> Avoiding back pain
> Getting the most from your GP
> Advice on prescribed drugs
> Difficult conversations
> Moving the person you care for
> Relaxation tips
> Laughter therapy
7 ways to tempt your elderly or frail relatives outdoors
Lesley Tart, care manager at Bupa’s St Mary’s Nursing Home near Middlesbrough, who is also a carer for her 90-year-old dad, has some inspiring ideas to encourage your relatives to get out and about.
‘Persuading someone you’re caring for to venture outdoors for a walk in the fresh air can be tricky,’ says Lesley. ‘Especially if they are elderly, confused, or have mobility problems or are disabled. For them the outside world can seem like a scary place.’
1. Ask them what they are anxious about:
‘Often an elderly person or people who suffer ill-health will develop anxiety about going out for a physical reason. For example they might be worried about what would happen if they go out and need the toilet or need to sit down,’ explains Lesley.’ It helps to run through the trip in advance – show them pictures of where you are going on the internet and point out that there are disabled access toilets or plenty of seating if they get tired – this can help reduce their anxiety.’
2. Take short trips:
‘Even walking to the end of the street is better than nothing; it will help them maintain their balance and build their confidence,’ says Lesley. ‘Walking sticks can increase confidence and mobility scooters independence.’
- Boost their health: ‘If it goes well, you can gradually increase the distance – this will help build up muscle strength reducing joint pain from arthritis, lower blood pressure, work the heart muscle and boost production of “good” HDL cholesterol’
- Lift their spirits: ‘There’s also evidence that walking boosts mood and helps with symptoms of depression and may help prevent vascular dementia. It’s even better if you bump into friends or neighbours and get some social interaction, too.’
3. Find out what they enjoy:‘Lots of older people give up on going out because it requires effort. The trick is to look at their life history to discover what their interests are and find an activity to tempt them,’ says Lesley. These could include:
- Gardens: ‘If they love flowers and gardens, why not suggest a trip to a garden centre? Choose one in a pleasant location with a café attached and make an afternoon of it. They can walk as much or as little as they can manage and take regular breaks’, says Lesley.
- Parks: ‘Similarly, you could take them to a park for a short stroll, taking breaks on park benches or an outdoor café to watch the squirrels and birds or admire the flower beds.’
- Libraries: ‘If they love reading, take them to the library so they can choose new books; even if their eyesight isn’t great they can walk between the shelves and choose audio or large print books.’
- Tea Dances: ‘If they’ve enjoyed ballroom dancing in the past find out if there any tea dances running locally and pop along. Even if they only have one dance, they’ll enjoy the social interaction.’
4. Try gentle sport:
‘Don’t discount your relatives being able to take part in a sporting activity; most leisure centres run special classes for older people or sessions for people with disabilities,’ explains Lesley.
- Try swimming: Swimming pools will have wheelchair access and hoists to help lower people into the pool and some run quieter sessions during the day for adults only or aqua aerobics sessions.
- Gyms: Most council-run leisure centres run programmes for people who have had cardiac surgery and exercise classes specifically for the over 50s.
- Bowling clubs: Bowling is a gentle exercise that is great for co-ordination and socialising. Find a club.
5. Get into green things:
- Go green: The mental health charity MIND runs ecominds projects all over the country offering outdoor ‘green’ activities for people of all ages with mental health problems.
- Share an allotment: Ring your local council to find out about sharing an allotment. Take your own thermos flask and fold up garden chairs and your relative can watch you dig and give some commentary or advice, See the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners website.
- Install raised beds in the garden or make up window boxes: ‘The important thing is that your relative feels engaged and involved in what you are growing – even if they are only sitting outside watching at least they’re getting fresh air.’
6 .Bring the outdoors in:
- ‘Open the windows and get a through-draught blowing through the house,’ says Lesley. ‘Although obviously don’t let the room temperature drop too much if it’s cold weather.’
- ‘Try getting your relative to do some exercises on a Wii-fit interactive game – they’re great for co-ordination and are even used in stroke rehabilitation.’
7. Find out about clubs and day centers:
‘Many local councils or charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society or Age UK run day sessions and programmes. These sometimes include exercise classes – some can arrange transport there and back,’ says Lesley.