Ask an Angel: October 5, 2017

Our Ask An Angel correspondent is Arlene Petersen, Life Care Navigation Specialist in the area of senior home care.

Q. My husband has always been very active in sports and fitness. Over the years, his memory has declined and with that, he is not very interested in being active. We used to do many activities together, but now it seems like we just exist. I’d like to help him stay in shape as well as participate in what he has always loved to do. How can I motivate him?

A. I appreciate your concern for his health and wellness. I also hear your desire to participate in activities together. Being active as a couple is very important to both your wellbeing. If you have not spoken to your husband’s doctor about his memory loss, that would be my first “to do” recommendation. It could be that his memory loss is associated with his disinterest in staying fit, however there could be more to it. Your doctor will make provide direction for you. In any case, start with a simple “together” routine that can cultivate happiness for both of you. A simple walk together after lunch or dinner can be invigorating and satisfying. A morning stretch routine can also be an energetic way to start the day out actively and together. There might be some basic, easy stretch exercise programs on television that you can take advantage of. The physical activity will be a huge benefit to both of you. Physically and emotionally! There is no doubt that memory loss is a reality for many people as they age. However, studies also reveal that various types of movement and exercise help with memory issues. If your husband does not respond well to your encouragement, I would like to suggest considering the help of a professional caregiver. I have witnessed great success with families who enlist the help of a professional caregiver to encourage physical activity. The caregiver somewhat takes on the role of a “coach”, truly motivating a loved one to get active. It is a new voice that resonates differently when it comes to sticking with a fitness routine. Don’t forget that exercising the mind is another “fuel” that helps us as we age. You have an excellent recipe for continued physical growth as a couple! It takes effort, but it will be worth it since this is a heartfelt desire you have for your husband.

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