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Changing Unhealthy Habits of Elderly Parents

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Tips for Changing Unhealthy Habits of Your Senior Loved Ones in Newcastle, NSW

For seniors, unhealthy habits can greatly impact quality of life. Bad habits like a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to health conditions, injuries, and other consequences. Thankfully, seniors are never too old to adopt new habits. Here are a few ways you can help your ageing parent change his or her lifestyle for the better.

Understand How Habits Operate

Habitual behaviours can be broken down into three basic stages: cue, routine, and reward. The “cue” is the feeling, setting, or situation that triggers the habit. For example, if your loved one likes to smoke a cigarette after lunch, the cue might be finishing his or her daily sandwich. The cue leads to the “routine,” the activity that takes your loved one from the cue—finishing lunch—to the “reward”—smoking a cigarette. In this instance, the routine might be walking from the kitchen table to the junk drawer, where a pack of cigarettes is stored. Over time, habitual behaviours get hardwired into the brain, and adults often perform them without thinking. When seniors want to change their habits, they have to replace the negative habit with a positive one. 

A professional carer can provide additional support for your efforts to help your loved one adopt a healthier lifestyle. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior home care. Newcastle families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualised care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

Assess Bad Habits

Acknowledging bad habits isn’t always easy. If your parent needs to make lifestyle changes for the sake of his or her health, offer compassionate support rather than tough love. Help your loved one honestly assess the patterns of behaviour he or she needs to change. Maybe your parent needs to exercise more or stop eating refined sugar. Whatever form the bad habits take, acknowledging them is the first step toward change, and your parent is more likely to take that step when a loving family member provides support. 

Family carers can model a healthy lifestyle for their loved ones, which means family members must practice self-care and make time to attend to their own wellbeing. Families who find it difficult to care for their ageing loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Newcastle, NSW, family carers who need a break from their caring duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite carers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Analyse the Reward

Bad habits aren’t broken—they’re replaced. To find an effective replacement, seniors first need to consider what they’re getting out of their current habit patterns. A post-lunch cigarette might provide a pleasant afternoon jolt, or late-night snack binges might distract from the real problem: insomnia. Once you’ve figured out what your loved one is gaining from the bad habit, you can choose an effective substitute.

Find a Replacement

Because habits are so deeply ingrained, seniors need to arm themselves with specific replacement behaviours that provide “rewards” similar to those they get from the bad behaviours. If your loved one wants to give up his or her nightly can of beer, he or she might choose to swap it with a bottle of water. Opting for a healthy replacement lets seniors engage in familiar, comforting behaviour with none of the deleterious effects. While this replacement might suit seniors who crave the physical action of drinking beer, it might prove ineffective for those whose drinking is emotionally motivated. If your loved one drinks every night due to loneliness, he or she should adopt replacement behaviours that satisfy social needs. Your parent could schedule a weekly after-dinner phone call with a friend, join a bowling team that meets in the evenings, or simply take a walk around the block.

A professional carer can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement as your loved one adopts new healthy habits. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional carers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust Newcastle elderly home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (02) 4089 3000.

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