I’d better clarify up front that my mother is neither elderly nor obese (man would I be in trouble if I falsely described her like that online), but as part of a growing sandwich generation, where adults are caring for both their children and their parents in some way, I have seen many friends struggle with issues such as this. Obesity in the elderly population is not only difficult to address, but the health implications can be quite serious.
Weight Problems in Aging Generations
Especially with the onset of menopause, older women can see a dramatic change in their metabolism and how their bodies change when it comes to weight. It can be extremely difficult for women to change cooking and eating habits, and activity levels also seem to slow during later decades of life. These combinations can make maintaining healthy weights very difficult, and as an adult child it might seem like there is little you can do or say to help your mother regain a healthy weight.
How Can I Help My Mom Lose Weight?
Your mom has been your guide for decades, and it might not be that easy or comfortable for either one of you to change roles. You can’t suddenly march in and tell her she is overweight and demand she change her lifestyle. However, you can take a few small steps that can add up to some bigger changes. Not all of these steps are possible in every situation, but try the ones that work best in your family and add in more as you go along.
Ask her for her help. Moms have been in the role of helper almost all of their adult lives – and as a mom myself, I don’t know if I will ever be able to give up that role with my kids.
If you have younger kids, ask your mom to help with their care, run them to their activities, or just enjoy afternoons walking with all of you at the park. It will get your mom out and moving, provides great family time, and give an extra set of hands (and eyes).
If your mom loves to garden but no longer lives in a home with a yard that allows for a flower bed, invite your mom over to help pull the weeds and give tender loving care to your plants.
Be a partner in crime. The truth is we all need exercise, so maybe you just need to get a double membership to the gym and pick your mom up on the way. You can each do your own exercises, but you’ll also help motivate each other. You can let your mom know that the time you get to spend getting healthy together is something that is important to you.
Take cooking classes together that focus on healthy eating. Your mom will hear the message and learn some new cooking methods, but it won’t be coming as a criticism from you. The bonus is that the two of you get to have fun spending time together. Even if you don’t live close enough to do this, you could give your mom a gift certificate for a local business that offers these.
Check into senior programs in your area. Sometimes older generations simply do not know about all of the options available to them for activities, healthcare, and even social events. Get some information about programs that might interest your mom and promote weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes at the same time – senior walking groups, senior golf associations, volunteer gardening clubs, etc. – just help your mom get out there and live the best life she can lead.
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