How do I encourage my father without being a nag?

2 answers | Last updated: Jun 21, 2011
A fellow caregiver asked...

How can I encourage my father to exercise more, eat better, etc. without nagging all the time? Is it better to just let him be, so we can enjoy our short remaining time together?

Expert Answers

Remember the old saw, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"? You can encourage your father to eat well and exercise, but it is up to him to follow through.

Having said that, it's possible that your father is depressed or suffering from another health concern that is preventing him from taking care of himself. Encourage him to see his physician; you may also want to tell his physician about your concerns.

Chances are, your father knows that he should exercise and eat well. In all likelihood, his physician has given him the same advice; he's also read it in health columns and heard it on the news. If you regularly repeat it, too, then you are nagging, and he'll tune you out as soon as you begin the familiar refrain.

This doesn't mean you should pay no attention to your dad's health habits. You can encourage him to be active by Inviting him to take walks with you, and to eat well by sharing a nourishing meal with him. Your father is likely to be more receptive to your encouragement if it's provided along with your company.

Community Answers

Maryjangel answered...

My mil will eat her meals while I sit there, breakfast and dinner. She likes to eat early so I will sit and chat with her, but the minute I leave if there is still food on her plate she will wrap it up and put it in the fridge for later, then break out the frozen yogurt or sweets. So I know that if I leave, it should be when I believe she has had enough nutritious food so that the sweets are not her mainstay.