How can I encourage my mom to be more active after a knee replacement?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 19, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

my mom had double knee replacements but never recovered 100%.  I now do everything around the house and yard.  How do I get her to try to do more walking so she can lose some of the weight and be in less pain when she does walk?

Expert Answers

Laura Beltramo, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics, graduated with honors from the University of California at San Francisco in 2000. She loves her job working as the sole physical therapist at a premier life-care facility in San Francisco. She has written articles and lectured extensively on fall prevention and other issues relevant to the aging experience. As a registered yoga teacher, she teaches yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness techniques to seniors -- helping them expand their repertoire for coping with stress, pain, and illness in the later years.


A double knee replacement is a tough surgery to recover from. However, the idea is to have the surgery to reduce pain so one can be more functional in his/her life. I am sorry it sounds like your mom is having a hard recovery and may need an extra push to get engaged in life again.  What is it that is keeping her from re-engaging? If it is pain, she should perhaps see a pain management doctor to get her on a better regimen. If it is lack of motivation, she may have some underlying depression or challenges getting over the mental/emotional part of recovery and could benefit from seeing a mental health professional.  Sometimes I find that taking the indirect path in motivating someone can be more helpful. People often have hang-ups around “exercise.”  For example, you might want to find out what your mom misses about what she used to do and get her hooked up with a sewing group, or a bridge playing group, or something social that will help bring her out. You may want to make an outing somewhere where "walking" is not the goal but she ends up walking –i.e a mall, a museum, a friends house.  Once she gets moving she will feel so much better that hopefully she will naturally want to do more. Then, I would suggest handing over some of the tasks she can do at home and she will hopefully feel the contentment of feeling productive and taking care of herself. Finally, the best exercise for your mom would be water walking/exercise or riding a recumbent bike. These provide the low-impact cardio exercise that will help your mom get stronger and lose weight in a pain free way.