Aging Parents: Lack of Exercise, Weakened Muscles–Do We Enable?

Knowing that “ify” balance and loss of confidence contribute to aging parents’ concern about falling, and just having written about falling and “alert” pendants, reminded me of one of those “ah haa!” moments.  I realized that Mother, recovering from a stroke, was not conscientious about doing her physical therapy exercises at home. For one thing, she needed to walk more, her muscles needed strengthening. As we know, muscles weaken for lack of use.

Being a far-away living child, I wanted to make the most of my time with her. My suggestions only made her feel less adequate when I flew out to visit. I wanted to empower.  What better than a short outing to Nordstroms? We’d have fun. She’d have to walk.

Underway and armed with handicapped tag (and walker just in case), I felt tension thinking about the availability of a handicapped parking space.  But there it was–just waiting for us.

As I was preparing to get out, then help Mother out–flash of brilliance: “Why am parking so close? The primary purpose of this outing is for Mother to walk more…I’m trying to help an aging parent, not trying to park as close as I can which limits her walking.”

When parents can–and need to–exercise their leg muscles, doesn’t it make sense to avoid the handicapped space? Of course we needn’t park blocks away–but we know our parents, we can guage their capability (if uncertain check with doctor) and gradually increase it.

Walking–as we know–is a best exercise and costs nothing (unless we do a lot of shopping).

If parents need the stability of your arm, check out the dignified, preferred way of doing this in my August 21st post. And of course shopping carts at the big box stores, grocery stores etc. provide the stability to make walking easy for older parents.

Bottom line: skip the handicapped spaces, unless there’s a good reason to use them. This is one more way we can help our parents age well.

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities and respected professionals–to help parents age well.

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