Another winter of cold, flu and COVID-19 is upon us. Winter may seem like an easier time to social distance than warmer months. After all, cold temperatures make the home a cozy and warm place to be. But no matter how cold it gets, it’s important to keep our bodies and minds active. COVID-19 shutdowns shouldn’t turn into a total shutdown of our energy!
For older adults, staying active can help prevent diseases, improve mental health and build strength and energy. Regular activity can also help fight the winter blues and loneliness many older adults are experiencing during the pandemic.
Here are just a few ways caregivers can help their loved ones stay active inside this winter:
1. Find ways to exercise indoors
If your loved one has open space in their home, consider looking into online workouts. Many fitness YouTube channels have videos for older adults. Organizations like SilverSneakers have also created online classes during the pandemic.
If your loved one doesn’t have space they can use for more involved workouts, they can try simple alternatives, such as chair exercises, lifting small hand weights or even just walking between different rooms of the house.
Remember to check with your loved one’s doctor to make sure it is safe for them to exercise.
2. Take on a household project
There’s always something that needs doing! Whether it’s cleaning out the closet or hanging up new photos of the family, household tasks can keep your loved one busy and in motion. Look for tasks that match your loved one’s abilities and offer your help if it is needed.
3. Exercise the brain
Having an active mind can be just as important as having an active body. In fact, regularly exercising the brain can protect against memory loss. Brain boosting can take many different forms. Doing crossword puzzles, playing chess, crafting, solve-it-yourself mysteries and playing along with television game shows are all examples of things your loved one can try. Brain exercises can also be educational! Watching a TED Talk, listening to audiobooks, watching a documentary or reading a book on a new subject can help your loved one continue to learn as they age.
COVID-19 hasn’t shutdown volunteering—it’s only changed the way we do it. There are still many opportunities to help out while following COVID-19 guidelines, such as making blankets for veterans or calling older adults who are lonely. To find virtual opportunities, you can look into the virtual volunteering boards like VolunteerMatch and Points of Light for more ideas.
Written By: Julie Hayes, MS, Content Manager for Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
For more resources, subscribe to our free eNewsletter!