Exercise is part of staying healthy and helping your brain to be healthier too. If you move as much as you can, as in, as many body parts as possible, and even take the stairs when there's an elevator near by, you are doing your body a favor. Some of us still go to the gym, or walk the dog, or just explore our neighborhood season to season and it's all good. It all adds up.
I do an exercise routine before I get out of bed in the morning. With a rolled towel under my neck for good support I exercise all the joints that help me walk, such as hips, knees, and ankles. If I was a little stiff just getting up to use the washroom, and then lie down again to do my exercises, when I get up afterwards I can feel the difference. It feels good. I have more energy and nothing is creaking or threatening to give me trouble with my balance or mobility.
I was displaying my products at a Chrsitmas Market in a community center and a very frail lady walked in with her cane. She was dressed in hiking boots, a bulky knit turttle neck and a fleece lined leather vest. As she came around to my table, walking very slowly and methodically, I said, "My you were brave to come out on a cold winter day! Did you drive here? " And she said, 'No I walked. I just live down the block. " I said, "You seem to be really active and not letting anything stop you!" She said, "Well, you can let your pain keep you home, or you can take it with you!" What a wonderful idea!
She was not letting her pain keep her from coming out to explore the Christmas market and she was walking in practical footwear, with her cane to steady her and I imagine watching for any patches of ice on the sidewalk or parking lot. I decided to remember that wisdom.
Most of us just want to justify taking a pain med and then not moving, but we aren't doing our bodies, or our minds any favors. She was stimulating her brain as well as her body by making the effort to come out. Yes, she had to go slow and steady, but she was increasing her seratonin level by the delight at seeing all the beaitufl gift ideas and crafts, AND she was socializing which is also good for your mental health.
My physio therapists have always said to ignor the "no pain, no gain' mantra since pain that can cause an injury to a muscle or ligament isn't good for you. They always taught me to move and stretch as far as possible with no pain and do that a few times before trying to go a little further or longer and it works. After a few days of stretching and exercising you begin to frind yourself adding another five or ten counts without even realizing it to your routine.
Those little landmarks increase confidence and motivate me to not stop, to keep moving, and to look forward to a longer healthier life and brain health.
With everything that happened in 2020 affecting the elderly the most, we saw news feeds of families not allowed to visit their parents or grand parents in facilities locked down. We witnessed tears of adult children knowing their parents were sick or dying and they couldn't be there to comfort, hold their hands, or hear their last words.
This may be the year you take a closer look at how to care for your parents when they aren't safe to be left alone and can't live independently.
If you wonder why you would do that, ask yourself these questions:
How did your parents 'pay it forward' for you?
What do you have today because of your parents?
What did your parents invest in you or for you, that makes you special, unique, and grateful?
What they've paid forward you can pay back and begin this year. One example from our experience.
Our parents took us on trips. They 'dragged us around from "pillar to post" as my mother sometimes said. Some travel was when we moved overseas with their work, but many short jaunts were just for a drive or a picnic. Mom and Dad loved an adventure which is what they made every time they needed us kids to cooperate and get excited about another move or chore. When we had the total care of their lives, It became the pleasure of our family to do as many things for them as they had done for us. This included some short trips.
To be honest, when dementia strikes, they may not remember the things you are doing, but your joy at the prospects and memories of your childhood creates an atmosphere they can still feel in their hearts. Every time you venture out, you will be comparing what they are enjoying to what they wouldn't be doing in a facility. And especially not with you, their beloved child rather than an employee or contract worker.
Three reasons why I was so committed to managing the full time care of our parents the last five years of their life were because:
These may not be the exact reasons you want to find out if you CAN or WANT to do what we did. But many more adult children are worrying about their parents. Unfortunately our lives and routines get on a track and it isn't until there's a crisis with one or both of our parents that we have to stop and decide how this is going to affect our lives, if at all.
One reason I offered to become the Enduring Power of Attorney early on was because I was an associate for Legal Shield (formerly Pre Paid Legal). One of the services offered and stories shared amongst associates was about the importance of having legal documents in place, especially if dementia was a factor in elder care. If you are interested in an affordable Legal Plan check the one from Legal Shield.
Dr. Natali Edmonds offers good information in a video: Dementia and Power of Attorney: Medical and Financial Power of Attorney for Dementia. By ensuring that your parents have legal things in place while they are mentally fit to sign the documents, you or someone they trust, are in place. In our case, we put this in place early 1992 but it wasn't until early 2006 that it became necessary to take over more and more aspects of their lives.
We didn't know the level of dementia that was preventing them to live independently, even in assisted living. The six month stay there alerted us to make the changes we did to keep them together. The details are in my book, Done With Dementia: Keeping Your Parents Together. Please begin to pay back your parents by at least beginning discussions and researching who in the family CAN and WANTS to take this loving responsibility. Be the hero in your family. Get more done in '21. Happy New Year.
Art and authoring are used to communicate in all areas of Linda's life. She is called to take people, places, and things to their next level through...
In order to make sense of complicated processes she just lists, draws, sketches, writes, or works in her studio with 'stuff'.