Staying mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy is extremely important in the senior years. However, many aging adults have developed bad habits that put their overall health in jeopardy. Breaking these habits is necessary, but the process can be difficult. Adopting the following strategies can help you change your aging parent’s unhealthy habits.
1. Discuss the Benefits
Many seniors aren’t aware of the negative effects unhealthy habits have on their bodies. Be open and honest when discussing how each bad habit puts your loved one’s health in jeopardy. For example, if your parent smokes cigarettes, explain how this unhealthy habit could increase the risk of a stroke, heart attack, dementia, and lung cancer. After learning about the benefits of making healthy lifestyle choices, your parent is likely to give up bad habits.
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2. Acknowledge the Unhealthy Habits and Remove Triggers
Have your loved one compile a list of things he or she wants to change. When making the list, provide reassurance and motivation. As your loved one acknowledges the unhealthy habits, he or she may recognize and remove the triggers.
3. Find Positive Replacements
After your loved one has learned what triggers the unhealthy habits, he she needs to find positive ways to manage these issues. For example, instead of going to his or her favorite bakery when stressed out, your loved one should go work out at the local gym. The objective is to develop positive routines that can replace the unhealthy habits in your parent’s life.
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4. Set Realistic Goals
Negative habits don’t usually develop overnight, and it often takes time to change unhealthy practices. Setting realistic goals may help your loved one make better lifestyle choices. Focus on one habit at a time instead of trying to fix everything at once. If your loved one wants to begin eating healthy meals, set time aside each week for meal prep and make sure to have healthy foods and snacks available at all times. Implementing one change at a time helps your loved one gradually move away from unhealthy habits.
5. Practice Acceptance
Making healthy lifestyle choices isn’t always easy, and you may have to encourage your parent to keep going. Older adults who are patient and learn how to accept their best have an easier time letting go of unhealthy habits. Instead of using negative phrases and words, seniors need to have a positive outlook as they make big changes. An example of practicing acceptance is saying, “I can lose weight if I continue to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a positive attitude,” instead of phrases like, “I’ll never lose weight.”
Encouraging older adults to make healthy lifestyle choices can be a challenging task. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Fairfield, CT, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To learn about our high-quality in-home care options, give us a call at 203-955-1915 today.