Most Americans have at least one unhealthy habit, like smoking, drinking alcohol to excess or not exercising enough. For those aged 65+, making the same poor lifestyle choices can place their freedom and independence at risk. As an informal caregiver, convincing your aging parent to stop their unhealthy habits is never easy. Using these tips should make the process go more smoothly so that your loved one will enjoy a higher quality of life.
Poor Lifestyle Choices that Seniors Make
Since the average senior feels like they’ve already lived a full life, they don’t like being scolded by their kids. Unless they’re already experiencing serious health problems, eliminating unhealthy habits isn’t high on their priority list.
As their adult child, you want mom or dad to be around for as long as possible. These are some of the more common poor lifestyle choices that elderly individuals make:
- Not exercising enough
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking alcohol to excess
- Eating too many unhealthy foods
- Spending too much time alone
- Abusing prescription painkillers
- Poor stress management
- Not getting enough sleep
If your parent is currently engaging in one of more of these negative behaviors, they run a greater risk for being hospitalized or even ending up in a nursing home.
Convincing Your Parent to Say “Yes”
Since you love your parent and want them to continue aging in place for as long as possible, you’ll need to devise a strategy that convinces them to stop their unhealthy habits. Here are some approaches to try:
Have an honest conversation
First, sit down without any distractions and respectfully discuss your concerns with mom or dad. Tell them how much you love them, along with the ways that their unhealthy habits could threaten their independence. This is especially important if they already have a medical condition like heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
If they’re receptive to making some positive changes, offer your support. If not, it’s time to move on to Plan B.
Involve trusted outsiders
If your parent is like most seniors, they don’t like being lectured by their children. Ask some trusted outsiders to speak with mom or dad, like their doctor, religious leader, close friend or a geriatric care manager. Involve your siblings and other family members in the discussion, especially those that are healthcare professionals.
Print off medical articles from reputable sources about a chronic condition they might have and how their unhealthy habits could make it worse. For example, if mom has high blood pressure and still smokes, share an article with her that points out the risks.
Encourage healthy activities
Find ways to replace poor lifestyle choices with healthy ones. Dad is spending too much time in front of the TV? Tell him about a new senior center that opened-up nearby. You could also encourage him to exercise at the local gym.
Other beneficial activities for seniors include:
- Volunteering at a hospital, school or food bank
- Taking a healthy cooking class
- Learning a new hobby or craft
- Taking college courses
- Going to a park every day
If your parent no longer drives, help them find reliable transportation through a ride-sharing service, public transit, family members or licensed home care agency.
Reward good behaviors
Track your parent’s progress and reward good behaviors along the way. For example, if dad has abstained from alcohol for three months, take him fishing or to see his favorite sports team play.
Studies have found that it’s much easier to stop an unhealthy habit by teaming up with loved ones, so continue giving your parent the love, support and encouragement they need.
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
At First In Care we know how important it is for seniors to kick unhealthy habits to the curb. As a fully licensed home care agency, our friendly caregivers are highly trained on positive ways to keep seniors active and socially engaged so they can continue aging safely and comfortably in place right where they want to be. While serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home, our compassionate professionals use a unique caregiving approach that’s focused on maintaining their quality of life with dignity, independence and self-esteem.
Our family trusted services in Manatee County, FL, include respite care, companionship care, personal care, medication reminders, transportation and even 24-hour care. For your added convenience all our home care amenities can be individually combined into an affordable package that accommodates your budget! To learn more about First In Care now, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com.