Let’s get physical. Did you know that you don’t have to lose your strength or muscle tone just because you’re getting older? As long as you continue working your muscles, they’ll continue working for you, by keeping you fit and independent. And if you use your muscles regularly, they’ll stay strong and firm, regardless of age. That’s why it’s especially important for older adults to strength train. Studies have shown that men in their 60s and 70s who strength train regularly have muscles that look and perform as well as inactive men in their 20s and 30s. After age 20, most adults lose about one half pound of muscle a year. By the time you’re 65, you have lost 25 percent of your peak strength. Experts say most of this muscle loss comes from simply not using your muscles enough as you age.
Carrying groceries, hauling mulch, opening jars — it’s easy to take routine tasks for granted when you can do them easily. Keeping your muscles and bones strong improves your chances of continuing these tasks on your own and reduces your risk of injury. Staying independent is a great incentive to maintain strength as you age.
You can start building and regaining strength at any age. So if it has been a while since you’ve worked on your strength, don’t worry. Research shows that even people who begin strength training in their 90s can gain muscle and strength in as few as eight weeks.
By Jen Sexton
Over the holiday season, I found myself on a plane next to a wonderful, kind woman. She engaged me in conversation and we talked about our jobs and home life. She recently quit her job to take care of her ailing mother while also being a mother to her two sons (a 12 year old and a 7 year old) at home. With a husband who works full time and travels, naturally her stress level was through the roof.
So many people I encounter light up when they find out what I do. I help seniors and their families when extra in-home assistance might be needed. I have over a decade of experience in helping family members, near and far, decide what steps to take next and how to avoid burnout when they decide to take on the sole role as caregiver. Being a caregiver to a loved one can be hard. Keeping a balance between their home life and caring for a loved one outside (or inside) the home adds a new matrix and stress level that many people find themselves in. And the number is climbing. We’ve heard it 100 times, “care for the caregiver.” The problem is, it’s true. You must take care of yourself in order to effectively be a caregiver.
Below is my “Top 10 Promise List” for the New Year. Work hard at keeping these promises. If not for yourself, do it for your loved one.
Resolutions for Caregivers
- Thank yourself in case no one else does.
- Ask for help!
- Take time out of every day to care yourself so you can go on caring for your senior.
- Get your flu shot! You can’t afford to be sick!
- Read a book of inspiration or new ideas; learn more about how to cope with your senior’s specific disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc.
- Join a support group!
- Maintain balance between your family, work and caregiving lives.
- Deal with your emotions of anger, confusion, frustration and talk with others who can help you.
- Check your senior loved one’s finances to be sure they can cover their needs, seek advice from experts on how to make the money last.
- Stay positive – you are making a difference!