Fitness

Aging Parents and What it Means for Our Own Fitness

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I have mentioned a few times in previous posts that one of my motivations for being active was to avoid some of the health issues I see in my parents.

I inherited Mom’s varicose veins, slow thyroid and tendency towards osteoporosis. Lately I have also been getting some twinges of arthritis too, though thankfully nothing like what has led her to have three hip replacements.

Mom and me from a few years ago.

Keeping myself fit and mobile was all I needed to worry about, until very recently. Dad has always been capable, and Mom is stubborn, so elder care mostly involved visits, and occasionally helping with a meal. Then Mom had a fall and broke several ribs.

Luckily, I had booked six weeks of vacation and live in the same city, so I will be available to take care of cleaning, meals, supervise physiotherapy exercises between visits, and help with personal care.

So far, I have sitting with her or with Dad, trying to get answers from hospital staff, and making sure I have the necessary arrangements in place for once she gets home. I treasure the moments brushing Mom’s hair, and don’t mind sitting quietly for hours while she naps, but at the end of the day that non-activity leaves me more ready for bed than a a physically demanding day.

If ever there was a time for meditation, yoga, or an early morning swim, it is now. I am not one for traditional meditation; I prefer to cook instead. Some nights, there is a lot of cooking.

I am pretty comfortable thinking about my own health – how to maintain it, accepting certain limitations as I age. And I knew there would come a time when my parents would need more care. What has been a surprise was exhausting it would be.

For the next few weeks, I plan to do some early morning gardening or go for a swim before heading off to do elder care duties. I will take advantage of every offer of assistance from my sister. I will keep some sort of craft on-hand to work on rather than doom scrolling. And I will work on getting enough sleep. More than ever, I want to be alert and avoid injury myself.

Diane Harper lives in Ottawa.

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