How you can keep your aging parents active no matter their condition

How to keep your elderly loved ones active

TAMPA, Fla. - As your parents get older, their mobility may slow down considerably. For many, that means relying on canes or walkers.

Staying active is a priority for Shirley Balter. But at one point, health problems slowed her stride.

“I have a lot of arthritis and walking became difficult for me,” she said.

“I think it was twice that she did take a tumble and it scared her," said Sue Balter, Shirley’s daughter-in-law. 

“The last thing you want to do is have a fall,” said Dr. Frank Bono of BioSpine. “When they do fall, you can sustain fractures of the back as well as hip fractures.”

Experts advise caregivers to be on the lookout for warning signs that your parents' mobility may be at risk, such as unsteadiness when they stand, a wide-based gait when they walk and dizziness.

And while walkers, like the one Shirley uses, can help with mobility, surgery may also be an option. Bono says, “With the technology that we have today that wasn't available 20 years ago, I would say that they're not too old to have surgery.”

Also check for potential hazards in your parent's house, such as shoes on the floor, throw rugs and uneven floors. And don't forget exercise. Dr. Bono says, “I'm a big fan of Pilates, yoga, getting them involved in some kind of exercise, daily exercise activities, and I really and truly feel that if you maintain flexibility, I would say 95 percent of the patient population will not have to have any kind of surgery.”

Shirley isn't letting arthritis or a walker slow her down. “I do water aerobics," she said. "I do exercises at home. There are exercise classes here at University Village that I can partake in if I choose. I do a lot of walking, just whatever necessary.”

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