Helping Aging Parents: When They’ve Lost Interest in Appearance and Healthy Routines – Pt. 2


other had physical therapy with an excellent, encouraging therapist after her stroke and made good progress. I think she made the effort more for him than for herself. Why? Because her follow-though at home was minimal to nonexistent after the therapy ended (as I saw it). Of course in her younger days, fitness wasn’t as valued as it is now.

She never exercised before as far as I know, probably because she had the good fortune to be naturally small. Was it lack of discipline, loss of energy, or inertia? Or is it simply that it’s hard to teach “old dogs new tricks”?

The best solution for her was the exercise from our outings–or outings with other family members–plus her daily short walk out to the mail box. Getting in and out of a car and walking moves muscles and joints; I’m guessing it also helps circulation. Clearly it beats being a “couch potato.” If this idea resonates, for specifics and ideas click the link in the  previous post, if you didn’t already read it.  

Mother said she wanted to drive again. I remember pointing out (“objectively stating” would be the counseling term–no emotion inserted in the conversation) there was no reason she couldn’t drive, but she needed to be able to walk and get in and out of the car by herself. While the idea appealed to her, she never followed through. Inertia? Loss of energy? I’m guessing it was just too much of an effort.

Appearance is probably more easily and earlier noticed than a lack of healthy routines and can involve hygiene. Older and old people face challenges: physical difficulty managing hair + running out of “beauty” and essential products = a less than desirable appearance.

Once-a-week appointments at the hair dresser’s (less often at the barber shop obviously) provide a quick fix in the appearance category. Unkempt hair, as we know, ruins anyone’s appearance. And what about a man’s poorly–or unshaven–face?

Beauty colleges charge less (I assume the same holds true for barber colleges), as my Aunt Millie knew. She continued her regular appointments there–transported by the senior bus–when she went into assisted living in her early 90′s. Aunt M. loved chatting with the young students…it was a social time for her. So who cared if they took longer than the professionals.

Obviously finding ways to motivate aging parents who’ve lost interest requires making things effortless, easier, and/or more fun. And that takes creativity and thought. Also realize that non-driving seniors can run out of supplies (think appearance, hygiene, healthy routines); and that creates an excuse for an outing–which means exercise. Look good, feel better, regain interest if not energy. No doubt easier said than done– but a worthy goal as we try to help  parents age well.