The old adage use it or lose it still applies today. So, local caregivers are working to promote active lifestyles for seniors who are homebound or just need a little extra help.
“As long as you have the right interventions, you can stay active at any age,” says Advanced Nursing’s director of nurses Paula DiCampo. “Seniors just have to do more planning and have more assistance.”
Home care agencies such as Advanced Nursing and Homewatch Caregivers provide that assistance. Advanced Nursing’s staffers stay in seniors’ homes to help them with daily activities, medical needs and transportation. All the while, they also are providing physical, mental and social stimulation. For example, the agency helps seniors with each step of attending exercise classes—from signing up, to transportation and getting dressed for each session. Many clients enjoy swimming, DiCampo notes, because it is a non-weight-bearing activity that is easier for seniors. The agency also aids clients in returning to daily activities following injuries. “One woman broke her hip, and we helped her get back to her favorite activity: walking her dog daily,” DiCampo recalls. “It boosted her morale.” In addition, the nurses can provide mental and social stimulation, such as transportation to lifelong learning classes at Washington University, local speakers’ series or church events.
Homewatch Caregivers also provides hourly to 24-hour live-in senior care, with the added bonus of helping seniors stay active. Caregivers promote mental activity through art therapy and reminiscence classes, where seniors can share favorite memories. Caregivers also drive seniors to social activities such as luncheons, theater shows, shopping and exercise classes. Simple daily interactions—from conversation between caregivers and seniors to going to the doctor—also help mental and social stimulation, notes Homewatch VP Maria Gianino.
The International Council on Active Aging is another group encouraging seniors to keep moving. Aberdeen Heights in Kirkwood became a member of the council, which challenges senior living communities to provide new, interesting ways to get seniors moving. With help from local vendors, Aberdeen recently hosted a slate of activities for the council’s Active Aging Week. Physical activities included a seated dancing exercise, outdoor yoga and Tai Chi classes, and a water volleyball tournament. The water volleyball games, in particular, give Aberdeen’s seniors a good workout, notes fitness coordinator Zoe Taylor. “It really gets their competitive side going.”
No matter the activity, local caregivers say the key is to continue to seek out physical and mental challenges. “Sedentary activity perpetuates itself,” DiCampo notes. “Stay as active as you can—it promotes healing and a sense of well-being.”