How can I get my father to be more active?

1 answer | Last updated: Jul 16, 2010
Robert k asked...

My father is 80 years old currently living with my spouse and I. He chooses to watch TV most of the time. I would like to see him become part of an activity of some kind. He is currently able to get himself around but we are questioning his abilities at the moment.

Expert Answers

Mary Koffend is the president of Accountable Aging Care Management (AACM), an eldercare consulting and care management firm that works with elder clients and their families to find the best care providers and services to meet their needs.

Getting a senior to be active can take a lot of creativity, planning, and support on your part. Often the senior has been moved from the community that he has known and the friends or acquaintances of many years. Sometimes they have medical, psychological or memory issues that also contribute to their reluctance to get out of their comfort zone. Take some time with your dad to learn what interests him at this stage of his life . This inquiry make take several conversations.

Once you have some ideas about what interests him you can begin the quest for finding some places that would feed these interests. Some places such as senior centers may offer transportation, but if transportation is not offered, you will need to make sure that he is comfortable driving to the locations. There are senior day care centers, senior centers, senior programs at most churches, and lots of options in these areas. Most of these centers and churches offer educational programs, exercise classes, games such as dominoes and bridge and some offer a lunch time meal at little or no cost. You may have to go visit these centers and then take your dad with you.

If after all of these efforts, your parent still does not feel comfortable in leaving the house for activities, there are several options for having a person come to him. Some Meals on Wheels programs have a phone or visitor program. Many gyms offer personal trainers certified to work with seniors at the gym or at their home. If the issue with your parent is a reluctance to go places alone or a drive in a strange area, you can hire a companion to visit with him at least once a week and drive him to activities. The companion can also walk or exercise with your parent and cultivate your dad's interests.

You certainly can explore all of these options for your parent. If you want assistance in expediting the process, you can use the services of a geriatric care manager who is knowledgeable about the community resources. To search for a geriatric care manager by state, visit the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers at:

Many seniors are floundering and do not know their life purpose any more. Help your parent find his. It is a very worthwhile pursuit.