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Physical Activity for Caregivers: How to Keep Your Loved One Active

As a caregiver, you’re tasked with countless duties on a day-to-day basis. One of the trickier ones is activity: how do you keep the loved one in your care active? Especially if mobility is limited, movement is linked to pain, or there’s no desire to participate. When a loved one is aging or dealing with a health condition, it can be tough to come up with ways to keep them active. However, staying active is important for their overall health and well-being. In this article, we’ll cover some tips to keep your loved one active and activity ideas to help you keep them moving.

How to Keep Your Loved One Active

  1. Set realistic goals. Talk with your loved one's doctor to come up with an activity plan that is right for them. Setting goals that are too high can set your loved one up for disappointment and make them less likely to stick with the plan.

  2. Find activities they enjoy. If your loved one enjoys spending time outdoors, look for activities that can be done outside such as taking a walk around the block or gardening. If they enjoy socializing, look for activities that involve other people such as joining a club or taking a class.

  3. Make it convenient. Choose activities that are close to home or easily accessible so that your loved one doesn't have to go out of their way to participate. You should also consider their daily routine: is there a time of the day they’re more alert or in less pain? That’s your target time. This will make it more likely that they will actually do the activity.

  4. Start small. If your loved one isn't used to being active, start with shorter duration or lower intensity activities and build up from there. Just a few minutes counts. They can always increase the amount of time or intensity as they get more comfortable with being active again.

  5. Do it together. One of the easiest ways to remain accountable is to work together. Exercising together is great for both of your physical health, adds a less serious activity to your routine as a way to strengthen your relationship, and will help your loved one stay on track.

Activity Ideas for Mind and Body Movement

Here are some ideas to help keep them moving:

  • Incorporate daily walks into your routine

  • Take them swimming or to water therapy classes

  • Enroll in a gentle yoga or tai chi class together

  • Take ailment-specific online classes designed for aging or ailing adults

  • Set up games such as bowling or mini golf in the backyard

  • Try chair exercises with resistance bands for those with limited mobility

  • Plan outings to nearby parks or gardens where they can enjoy the fresh air and scenery while getting some light exercise

  • Give aerobics a try

  • Start and tend to a garden together

  • Take dance classes

  • Use stairs whenever possible

  • Indoor mall walks on hot or cold days

  • Let them try new hobbies/activities that keep their hands and feet moving

If mobility is a more severe problem for your loved one, medical facilities often have therapy pools, which can provide a low-impact way for them to improve their strength and mobility. Or activities like playing board games, painting, singing, or doing puzzles can stimulate their minds and reduce feelings of boredom.

Remember that the key is not necessarily intensity, but consistency. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity (physical and/or mental) every day to keep bodies and minds healthy and active. And don't forget to schedule breaks and have fun while being active – it will encourage both you and the person in your care to keep going.

Note: Be careful to follow the doctor's recommendations and take any necessary safety precautions. By doing so, you’ll be able to find meaningful activities for your loved one that can improve both their physical and mental well-being.

Closing Thoughts

Staying active is important for everyone, but it can be especially important for those who are aging or dealing with a health condition. By finding activities that they enjoy and making it convenient to participate, you can help your loved one stay active and improve their overall health and well-being.

For further reading and resources, we invite you to check out our free library of information for family caregivers by clicking here. You are also welcome to call us at 800-543-8312 to find out more about how we can support you on your caregiving journey.

If you are a caregiver in Orange County, please reach out to us. We would be happy to provide you with information on our Resource Center and the many services we offer.

Additional Reading: How to Get Paid to Be a Caregiver

If you are a caregiver, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a family caregiver. Becoming a caregiver is expensive–out-of-pocket costs average in the thousands each year for a family caregiver. The state of California offers several paths to receiving at least subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.


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