Robert is one of TPC’s clients. He has just had his 80th birthday – go Robert!
Robert would usually love to get down to his local club and celebrate with his family and friends, but this year he has been feeling a bit reluctant to do so. Over the past few months, Robert has noticed himself slowing down with his walking and consequently has ventured out less.
This change has meant he has lost a fair amount of fitness, not to mention confidence in going out on his own.
As his daughter, you are watching Dad participate less and less in the things he loves, as well as complaining more about aches and pains, and struggling to complete simple tasks he used to be able to do with ease, for example, walking around the shops without a trolley, or standing up from a soft lounge.
As physiotherapists, we encounter seniors like Robert all the time. So, how can we help our family, ourselves and others become more motivated to move?
Here are our five top tips to consider!
“You don’t stop walking because you get old, you get old because you stop walking”.
- Seek to understand, before seeking to be understood. Ask open-ended questions – i.e. a question that cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” response, or with a static response – about the potential barriers to getting them moving, and their best thoughts for addressing them. Chances are they’ve thought about this already! Take the time to hear their opinion. From there, you will have a better understanding of their needs and barriers.
- Avoid ‘exercise’ – for many, ‘exercise’ is a very triggering word. If you notice your loved one cringing whenever this is said, try using ‘movement’ instead.
- Participate in movement that brings joy – For Robert, this might mean taking him out to the club and going for a walk around the grounds before lunch. Where possible, get involved yourself.
- Work as a team. Often, it takes the same advice being given from family, physios and GPs to recognise that this is maybe an idea worth considering.
- Work towards meaningful goals in smaller chunks – Rather than gunning for a marathon race first up, paint a vision of the future and break it down into smaller goals. This will make things seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Having a meaningful end will also help connect the process to the goals, rather than performing arbitrary exercises.
If this experience resonates with you, you’re not alone!
Many seniors, and even younger people, find it difficult to recognise a need to change and find the motivation to get moving. Our experienced physiotherapists here at TPC can help guide and support your elderly family members (like Robert!) through these barriers to help achieve their meaningful goals.
If you’d like to set up an assessment or discuss further, please call our Client Care team on 1300 797 793.
(Article written by TPC physiotherapists Maddy Low & Emily Johnson)