“I want Mum (or Dad) to try physio but they’re not all that keen.”
This is something we hear often from sons and daughters (and carers) of Aussie seniors. They know their Mum or Dad would benefit from clinically-based exercise and movement, but, well getting them to give it a go is not always straightforward!
We get it! If we put ourselves in our parents’ shoes, trying something new at their age can be daunting.
There are many unknowns: What exactly will happen? Am I going to like it and will it have any benefit?
If this sounds like a familiar situation, read on to better understand some of the reasons your elderly Mum or Dad might not be on board with physio just yet, and how you can help them to give it a go.
1. Find your WHY
What is it that Mum or Dad LOVES to do? The thing they look forward to the most?
This is important, because your ‘why’ is your purpose, your passion or your pleasure in life – your reason for being.
Helping Mum or Dad live their happiest, healthiest, fullest life is likely the reason you want them to try physio.
Encourage Mum or Dad to think of the things they love (their ‘why’). This may be something they haven’t done for some time, or perhaps they love their life exactly as it is!
The thing that gets them going could be getting back to playing golf with their friends, staying independent in their own home, doing the gardening on a regular basis, or simply managing the steps that lead into your house to they can spend time with you and your family.
Whatever is most important to your Mum or Dad is exactly what physiotherapy can address.
Have a chat with Mum or Dad and get them thinking about what really matters to them. A physiotherapist could well help them get there!
2. Goal setting
Goal setting is incredibly important for motivation. We’re likely to work harder when we know exactly what we’re striving for, and when it is something we really want to achieve!
Finding a specific goal can take physiotherapy from a vague notion involving lots of effort, to a source of excitement and positivity.
A physiotherapist can help by using motivational interviewing – that is, getting a person thinking about what they value (eg. spending time with family, good health, independence) and what actions (eg. physio!) might align with that. This can help a person identify their goals and get motivated to start making changes.
Professional physiotherapists are big on goal setting! For example, The Physio Co’s home-based service is centred on our proprietary goal-plan system to ensure we are making progress towards the things that matter to our clients
You can read more about setting effective goals here (or get professional, individualised support from a physiotherapist).
Ensure Mum or Dad is up to speed on the benefits of physiotherapy for older people, including exercise to manage and prevent chronic diseases like osteoporosis (low bone density), diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and even some cancers.
Exercise is also essential to counteract loss of muscle mass, which happens to everyone as we age, not to mention it helps maintain function and independence, joint health and energy levels.
Did you know that trained physiotherapists are skilled in pain management, for both the long- and short-term? Physios can also help reduce the risk of elderly folks falling, in turn increasing confidence and independence, and preventing injuries such as potentially serious head knocks and fractures.
Why this is needed: Exercise is a new phenomenon!
The older generation did not grow up with the same attitudes to exercise that are prevalent today. Historically, people were a lot more active in day-to-day life (e.g. riding bikes to school or work, washing clothes by hand) so there was little need to exercise for the sake of exercise.
Exercising may be a foreign concept for your Mum or Dad! Keep this in mind while discussing physiotherapy, taking time to explain the benefits we now understand and respect that it might be somewhat unfamiliar.
(Check out the articles we publish here on the TPC website – there are a lot to choose from!)
4. Give them time
Making a change takes time and energy, and can be daunting.
Give Mum or Dad time to take in all the information and consider what you’re suggesting. It will likely take a few conversations over a number of weeks or months for them to think of their ‘why’ and decide that they want to work towards it with a physio.
5. Start small
Getting started is the hardest part!
Reiterate to your loved one that any action is good action. It may be as small as walking to the front gate each day, and could be worked into established routines (eg. doing squats while the kettle boils; walking a lap of the garden when you get the mail).
It is essential to set smaller, achievable goals to help get Mum or Dad started on the way towards their big goal. Small goals are far less intimidating, and are far more motivational when you truly believe you will achieve them!
It can be nerve wracking and off-putting when you don’t know what to expect. It may help to do some research with Mum or Dad, for example:
- Learn about the physio company you choose and their approach to working with senior clients in particular.
- Pick up the phone! Talk through the specifics of what a session may look like.
- Chat with your doctor to confirm physiotherapy is appropriate. Your Mum or Dad can be confident in their decision knowing they are likely to benefit.
Remember, you are by no means locked in! See if Mum or Dad is agreeable to trying one or two sessions to start with and then deciding what they think.
What you can expect working with a TPC physiotherapist?
Be assured, physiotherapy will be tailored to the specific needs of your Mum or Dad. They will not be asked to do something way above their level (no handstands on day one, we promise!), nor will they be asked to do boring tasks that are no challenge at all!
Your TPC physio will chat (and do some assessments) with Mum or Dad to better understand how they can best help them achieve their health and physical goals. They may also start with some pain relief or an exercise program that is at the right level for Mum or Dad, and relevant to their needs.
If you are considering The Physio Co and would like more details on our approach, please feel free to reach out for a chat – we are just a phone call away: 1300 797 793.
Article written by Tessa Machin, TPC physiotherapist