Hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets!

Self-care is Self-preservation

Episode 87

Rayna Neises, ACC, host, reflects on the thoughts shared during last week’s interview with Kathy Webster.  She expands on the suggestions Kathy provided regarding exercise for the elderly and avoiding falls:

    • Exercise not only strengthens your heart and can trim your waist, but it can also slow the aging process on the cellular level.
    • Benefits of exercising for caregivers and aging seniors:
      • Prevent disease
      • Produce endorphins for improved mental health
      • Decrease the risk of falls
      • Gain strength
      • Improve cognitive function
      • Better sleep
      • Healthier weight management
      • More energy
      • Positive impact on blood pressure
    • Ask, “How can I help my loved one continue to be as physically active as they can be?” Work on finding a way to get them there.
    • Find activities/exercises that you love.
    • Check out chair workout options.
    • Simple exercises from activbody.com
      • Breathing
      • Chairlift
      • Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
    • Exercise looks different in every season.


*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Kathy Webster: I think what has really surprised me most and keeps me up at night to be quite honest with you is falls. Those over 65, falls account for 25% of all hospitalizations and over 40% of nursing home visits. Of those that survive a fall 50% never returned to their previous level of mobility or independence. And it’s the leading cause of death for older adults over 65. And falls are preventable.

[00:00:34] Rayna Neises (2): That was Kathy Webster on episode 86, talking about the importance of our physical conditions and understanding ways to prevent falls that information was mind boggling to me. And so, I wanted talk more about ways that we can help our loved ones stay physically fit even when they’re aging or have disabilities that we think can prevent it.

[00:00:59] Welcome, this is A Season of Caring Podcast. And I’m Rayna Neises, your host, where there’s hope for living loving and caring with no regrets. Thank you for joining me today, as we talk more about physical fitness and the impact on our loved ones, as we’re caring for them.

[00:01:16] As I was preparing for this episode, I found so much great information, but it just kept resonating with me that all of this information has to do with us and our physical condition, as well as the person that we’re caring for. I hope that you can embrace both this information for yourself and your personal health, as well as the person that you’re caring for.

[00:01:37] We’ve all heard it at least a million times, physical exercise is good for us, and it impacts our lives in so many different ways. And I’m not sure why we don’t do it more often, but let’s talk one more time about some things that maybe we haven’t thought of before. So let’s start with I found an article on AARP.com to Live Longer, Exercise Daily. And in that article, it just, it was amazing. This is the latest evidence is showing that exercise not only strengthens our heart and may trim our waist, but regular physical activity can actually slow the aging process on a cellular level and potentially add years to your life.

[00:02:19] It says, considers this federal guideline recommend at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise every week. But Harvard University researchers recently noted that as little as 15 minutes of regular physical activity daily convinces your lifespan by three years.

[00:02:37] I think that’s amazing when we think about just that small amount of exercise can impact our lifespan, that’s crazy. The latest research also gives us our first clue, why physical activity is so important, it appears that it actually makes your cellular biology younger. So Brigham Young University researchers found that DNA samples of over 6,000 adults, measure the length of the participant’s telomeres, the actual molecular caps at the end of the chromosomes that tend to get shorter with age. They found that people with higher activity levels have longer telomeres then those that were sedentary. In fact, the exercisers had a biological age that was about nine years younger.

[00:03:23] So I hope that information is motivating to you to help you and your loved one, get moving. So, let’s talk some basics. Five benefits of exercise for aging seniors, and for all of us. Number one, it helps to prevent disease. All of us have our challenges, whether it be heart disease, diabetes, weight. There are always challenges physically. So why not get in front of as many of them as we can. We know that exercise impacts these in a positive way. So, helping to diminish the impact of heart disease or even stabilize our blood sugar levels. Exercise can help if we already have a disease, or it can help prevent disease.

[00:04:14] The second one is to improve our mental health. There are so many benefits of exercise, but endorphins is definitely one of them. Our brain loves endorphins. We can get endorphins from doing physical exercise. So, remembering that it can have a really positive impact on your health mentally, even when you don’t feel like doing it can make a big difference. Getting that blood pumping and helping those endorphins being released into our bodies can help us move into the place where we want to be, even when we aren’t there when we get started. So just remember, getting the habit in place really can make a difference in your mental health, from depression to just the blues.

[00:05:00] Number three, decreasing the risk of falls again when we think of our loved ones and the ones that we’re caring for fall risk is huge. We heard Kathy say, it can change everything. So, preventing a fall can make such a big difference. And getting the strength and the endurance to do the things that need to be done can really be benefited from physical exercise. Flexibility, just overall strength can be so important.

[00:05:30] And the fifth main area that I saw was improving your cognitive function. You know, working out challenges your brain in a different way. It helps your right brain and left brain work together. And helps you to be able to keep yourself sharp and active. So that’s a really important thing to do. Some of the other benefits from exercise are better sleep, healthier weight management, more energy, which impacts your blood pressure in a positive way. There are so many reasons to exercise.

[00:06:04] There are also barriers to exercise, and I get that. You know, that was one of the things that we dealt with early on in my dad’s diagnosis. Was once we got to the point that the doctor said, hey, it’s not safe for him to drive anymore. We had the challenge of getting him to the exercise locations. That can be a challenge, but I really encourage you to think for your loved ones, how can I help them to continue to be as physically active as they can be? Thinking about those resources, finding friends that are already attending the activities. My dad and my aunt went to the Y together. My aunt attended an exercise class. My dad enjoyed the pool and the weights. And so finding what works for you is really important, but just finding a way to be able to get to the gym together. To get to the physical activity that works for your loved one it really has to be a must. I mentioned before Uber and Lyft might be some great options for you depending on where you live.

[00:07:08] During the time that I cared for dad, I was actually able to go to the gym with him and right alongside lift weights. He didn’t care to work out on a treadmill. And that was something I enjoyed so early on; he was fine doing the weights by himself. And I would do the treadmill. And then after things progressed and he was having a little more difficulty figuring out what weights were appropriate and where to put the pen and that kind of thing. Then we took turns, I would do 10, he would do 10. So being able to do that as alternating or helping both of us, because my physical health was just important as his, so I hope you hear that. I’m going to say that over and over today.

[00:07:48] Finding a way to get them there and also finding exercise that they love. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a challenge in my adult life to find an exercise that I love. I’ve always loved competitive sports and the older I get the less beneficial that is to me. So, I have to find other things that I really enjoy. Considering different alternatives can be really helpful. I think I’ve mentioned on the podcast before that I found an online workout that I actually love to do. And I did that frequently when I was at dad’s house after I put him to bed. It was called Body Groove. And it was just a fun way of doing kind of the old-fashioned aerobics in a new way. And just being able to dance it off really helped to lower my stress level and give me the physical conditioning that I needed to be my best during my caregiving season.

[00:08:42] Keep looking if you haven’t found the physical exercise that is best for your loved one, keep trying new things. Yoga’s one of those things I never really thought that I would like. That in recent years, I found some workouts that I’ve enjoyed, and just getting that stretching and flexibility in place can be so helpful. So keep looking there is opportunities for chair yoga. If your loved one doesn’t have the strength that they once did. It just allows them to balance and to have something to hold onto. A lot of the seniors are enjoying exercises in chairs or other activities that maybe were not something they would have done in the past, but they find our really good fit for them now. There are many resources so I challenge you to look in your local community and find some things that will work both for you and for them.

[00:09:34] One of the things that I’ve found really interesting as I was doing. Some research is some exercises for people who have limited mobility. And I found this at www.activbody.com. I’m going to share with you three exercises that I found. I don’t know, surprising. Surprisingly difficult at the same time from this article, just really talked about the benefits that can be in place just from doing some of these really simple exercises.

[00:10:02] The first one is breathing. Yeah, we hear about breathing a lot to lower our stress level, but this one is also helping us to focus in on our core muscles, which is so important. So, what you need to do is just sit up really straight as possible. Take a deep breath. Now tighten your abdominal muscles as hard as you can. And count to 10. And then release the air. And do it a total of 10 times. I don’t know about you. It sounds really simple, but man, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, especially to do it 10 times in a row. You can really get to breathing hard. So, when I think about all those muscles that I don’t really use very often, in my core. It really does help to see that just tightening them and holding him like that can give us some exercise that we haven’t been getting in the past.

[00:10:57] Okay. Number two is a chairlift. Now, I know Kathy talked about stand up sit downs, and that sounded really simple too. Especially for those of us that maybe are caregivers. This one was called Chairlift and it’s just sit up in your chair. Even if they’re in a wheelchair, they can sit up tall and then bend your elbows to position directly under your shoulders. So, you want them not on the arms, but actually on the seat. And so, you get your arms down there next to you, and then just push yourself up. And you’re trying to just lift your bottom off of the seat. One to two inches. It’s tougher than it sounds. And the good news is even if you can’t lift yourself up off of the seat, if you just push as hard as you can, you’re still giving those muscles a good workout. And so that was one that even if you don’t have the upper body strength right now to push all the way up. I think you’ll find if you continue to do this. That you will build more strength and be able to lift yourself out of the chair. So, you want to hold for 10 seconds again, lower yourself down rest for 10 seconds and try to do 10. If you can. A lot tougher than it sounds.

[00:12:05] And the third one I wanted to share is called Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. This one cracked me up because it sounds easy peasy, right? You can do this one actually sitting or lying down. So if your loved one is not able to set up for as long as doing these three exercises you could actually start the day doing this one or end the day doing this one. All you need to do is put your palms together, directly in front of your chest, lock your fingers together, and then just push your hands together as hard as you can. Holding it for 10 seconds. And then keeping them locked together you want to try to pull them apart for 10 seconds. Then rest, you’re going to need it. And try to do 10 of these as well. Again, the name is a little misleading. It is a lot tougher than you would think it would be.

[00:12:50] I’ll be linking this website on our show notes page. Again, it was www.activbody.com, a great list of isometric exercises, which are exercises that are just doing that constricting of the muscle and holding it and then relaxing. They can be extremely beneficial to our bodies especially when we’re not able to do a lot of the physical exertion that we’ve done before. Just taking the time to do some of these types of exercises each day will increase overall health, strength and we think about how important it is as we age to be able to keep that strong upper body. Whether it be transferring from a bed to a wheelchair or just standing up to be able to transfer from the wheelchair to restroom. A lot of those things were really dependent on that strength. So even as our loved ones age, or as they have disabilities that are impacting their overall physical health finding ways to help them exercise really will make a difference in the long run, of quality of life and length of life.

[00:13:54] So remembering that exercise needs to look different in each season for you as a caregiver, it still needs to be a part of your life, and it will be challenging to work that into your life. But you can find ways to do it if you partner with the person you’re caring for. We all do better at working out and consistently getting exercise when we have a partner. And so allow them to be your partner, buddy up together and do the things that need to be done to keep you both stronger and healthier than you would be, if you were avoiding it.

[00:14:25] That’s it, that’s my tips and suggestions for continuing to increase your physical fitness and help your loved one to do the same during this season of caring. Thanks for joining me today. Don’t forget to check out my show notes page at www.aseasonofcaring.com/podcast to find the resources that I found as I was looking for unique information to share with you today.

[00:14:50] Be sure to join us next time on A Season of Caring Podcast. And just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers if you have financial, medical, or legal questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season

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Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

An ICF Certified Coach, Author of No Regrets:  Hope for Your Caregiving Season, Podcaster, & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected.

Rayna Neises, ACC

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