Update on Coronavirus / COVID-19 and senior safety, click here for more information.

How to Change Your Aging Parent’s Unhealthy Habits

By , 9:00 am on

Bad habits can have a negative impact on health regardless of age. For seniors, the impact of smoking, living a sedentary lifestyle, or eating unhealthy foods is compounded by age. With each passing year, it becomes more and more important for seniors to quit bad habits. Here are a few ways to help your aging loved one change his or her habits for the better.

Replace Bad Habits with Non-Harmful Habits

Few people have the willpower to eliminate a bad habit in their life. Most habits have a purpose. Though they’re unhealthy in the long term, they provide stimulation or stress relief in the short term. To help your loved one overcome a bad habit, help him or her find an adequate replacement. For smokers, nicotine patches provide small doses of nicotine, serving as an effective replacement while seniors kick their habit. Some people who drink too much alcohol trade their nightly glass of wine for a different oral habit like eating lollipops or crunching on pieces of ice. By satisfying the oral component of the bad habit and reaching for a lollipop whenever the urge for alcohol arises, your loved one can retrain his or her body to replace the bad habit with the innocuous habit.

If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care. North Broward Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

Remove Triggers

For many seniors, specific things trigger their bad habits. The triggers can be certain environments—some people smoke every time they hang out at a bar—or they can be physical objects—some people can’t refrain from eating cookies when they’ve got a fully stocked cookie jar. If your loved one wants to kick a bad habit for good, he or she needs to rid the environment of triggers. Help your loved one identify the most common triggers, then clear his or her living space of anything that could cause a backslide. When embarking upon the new lifestyle, help your loved one avoid triggers for the first few weeks. If your loved one is trying to stick to a healthy diet, offer to do the grocery shopping for a month so he or she doesn’t get tempted by the bakery aisle.

Caring for a senior loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming for family caregivers who have other responsibilities they need to focus on. For these families, the perfect solution is respite care. North Broward families rely on our caregivers whenever they need time to rest, work, run errands, and even go on vacation.

Eliminate Bad Habits Together

Studies suggest it’s easier to kick a bad habit when joining forces with a friend or family member. Having someone to hold your loved one accountable when wavering and celebrating successes when holding strong can provide the motivation to exercise, eat healthily, or give up smoking. If your loved one needs to adopt a healthier lifestyle, consider joining in his or her journey. This way, you can celebrate your milestone together.

Create a Rewards System

Consider tracking your loved one’s progress and celebrating each milestone with a reward. Tracking systems can make positive habit formation feel like a game. Create a bulletin board where you can check off daily victories. When meeting specific milestones, like two weeks without a cigarette or three weeks of regular exercise, give your loved one a reward. Rewards should be senior-specific, but options range from manicures to trips to a favorite golf course.

Changing your loved one’s bad habits is not the only obstacle you’ll face as a family caregiver. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to North Broward Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Call 954-906-5161 today to schedule a free in-home consultation.