How do you motivate someone to exercise?

By Waltznfool Latest Reply 2009-10-28 15:14:35 -0500
Started 2009-10-06 11:42:54 -0500

Hi. Have a bit of a problem. My Dad has Type I diabetes. About 5 weeks ago on top of everything else, he is going through, he broke his foot. Currently he is in a wheelchair. I have tried to get him to do some kind of exercise. Because since the diabetes, the lung cancer and now the foot, I have watch helplessly as his muscles atrophy. He doesn’t seem interested in doing anything except sit there, staring into space. He has told me he knows that he needs to do something but I can get him interested in anything I understand depression (on an intimate level), but when it comes to anything physical, he is not interested. . I could really use some advice on this. Thank you.

21 replies

US331242 2009-10-14 13:22:38 -0500 Report

I do find this to be serious. Without movement he can develop blood clots, sores and many other issues, which for anyone in their 70's would be acute but for a diabetic it is an even more elevated concern.

I will not pretend to know your dad, because I do not. But what turned my father around was the fear factor. We (my mother and I) called his doctor and explained our concerns. The doctor's office called him and said the doctor would like to schedule a follow-up visit and he agreed. The doctor laid it on the line and asked him if he wanted to die, because without moving these are the things that are in your future. Of course he didn't want to die and the doc knew that. I wasn't there so I don't know everything that was said but the intervention worked.

Some of the activities my dad does are:
— Wii (yes he's almost 80 and loves the challenge) he
likes the single player adventure type games
— We got him a dog and now he walks & cares for
the dog
— Stopped delivery of the newspaper and now he goes
to the store everyday to get his paper
— My mother finds things she needs him to pick up
at the store
My dad is very frugal so spending money on things he can do, tends to be a motivator too. Can you find something like this? Hope something here can help.

Judimar 2009-10-12 20:50:30 -0500 Report

I can empathize with you. It is painful to watch someone you love so much succumbing to depression. My sister has lupus and she won't take care of herself because of her chronic depression. (At one time she was diagnosised as bipolar then they just said she had chronic depression.)

I hate having to be firm with her because she is 6 years older then I am. I have tried everything short of yelling at her to try and motivate her… but if I have to, I will do it. Thankfully she seems to be improving more. She is less withdrawn and is beginning to talk to my husband and I. It took surprising her with three of our sisters and her daughter on her 50th birthday to get her to see that she DOES matter and is "worth it".

Have you asked your dad why he isn't interested in taking care of himself? Have you spoken to anyone else in your family about this? Remember to take care of yourself as well and that you can only do so much… Your father has to be responsible for his own actions or lack of them. All you can do is love him and encourage him to take care of himself. The rest is in his hands.

Your dad and you are in my prayers.



Waltznfool 2009-10-14 12:46:23 -0500 Report

Thank you for the encouragement Judi. Yes, I hate to "get after him". I've tried to get him to "open up" but its like talking to a wall, he's not that responsive or he just says, "I'm fine." Which I know is balony. One day at a time, right?

Judimar 2009-10-14 15:48:38 -0500 Report

That's all you can do hon… take it a day at a time. Don't give up but don't burn yourself out either.

I'm glad you've got your mom there… you can support one another. Maybe the two of you can put your heads together and figure out a way to approach him?

I feel so alone at times because I feel like it's just me taking care of my older sister. My siblings are spread all over the world. My husband is supportive of me but he is afraid to approach my sister for fear he will hurt her feelings or make her feel unwelcome in our home and that is far from the case. He loves her like his own sister. It is a tough situation but as she slowly comes more out of her shell it makes it worth it.

I will pray for you and your mom and dad.


GabbyPA 2009-10-12 20:43:07 -0500 Report

Trick him....take him out somewhere and just have fun. You might take him out for a stroll in his chair and get him to feed the ducks. Maybe you can take him to play cards or dominos with friends...anything to get him out and doing. Then you can get him doing more structured things. Just make it fun...if it is "exercise" then it becomes a task.

Waltznfool 2009-10-14 12:50:27 -0500 Report

Thanks Gabby, He's a lot smarter than I am. If it "smacks" of anything but him sitting there "contemplating his navel", he's not interested & very non-responsive. Even my Mom has started the "tough love" stuff…not a pretty sight. I'm not giving up but it IS fustrating.
Thanks again.

GabbyPA 2009-10-14 13:16:14 -0500 Report

wow, that is rough. I know I could kind of trick my grandmother in coming and walking with me as we talked or doing a little puttering in the flower pots. That is hard, it sounds like he has given up.

Waltznfool 2009-10-14 16:04:40 -0500 Report

He did do the gardening thing but when he broke his foot, I think we made a mistake when we "straightened up" HIS gardening area. Now he's not interested in anything.

GabbyPA 2009-10-15 08:45:08 -0500 Report

Maybe, like a little kid, he is liking the attention he is getting by NOT doing what he should? You know, any attention is better than no attention. So maybe just let him alone for a while to stew with himself? Maybe he will kick start his own "attention" by doing things? I don't does sound so frustrating.

Waltznfool 2009-10-28 15:14:35 -0500 Report

Thanks Gabby. No, ignoring him doesn't seem to work…it seems that he doesn't care one way or the other. He went to Ortho about the foot…there is a possiblity that he will be in that chair for another 6 months! I really don't like to think of him just sitting there for 6 months, his muscles are alreading starting to atrophy. I really don't know what to do.

sisson 2009-10-10 14:05:30 -0500 Report

Hi Waltznfool
I know that this is hard for you to see you father this way. There are many exercise that he can do in his wheel chair. I don't know if his foot is in a cast or not but maybe if you could take him to the YMCA or the gym they could help you with him. Water exercise are the best and would help a lot. Good luck Penny

Waltznfool 2009-10-12 11:04:15 -0500 Report

Thank you for the info…The sad thing is neither one of us can swim. :^( What a good time to learn huh? LOL all I can to is try to encourage him, I can't MAKE him do anything.

sisson 2009-10-12 20:22:56 -0500 Report

Hi Waltznfool
If they have a water arobices class he dosent need to know how to swim. Just walking in the water help the water is only 3 1/2 feet deep on the sides and 4 feet in the middle. Good luck Penny

Judimar 2009-10-12 20:41:17 -0500 Report

The thing about water aerobics/exercise is you don't have to be able to swim to do it. You can work at the shallow end of the pool or in waist high water (actually any depth you feel comfortable in). This type of exercise is non weight bearing so it's easy on your joints etc.

ptsparkle 2009-10-14 16:42:43 -0500 Report

You can evev wear a life jacket in the deep end and pedal that imaginary bike, or any leg lifts/movements. Good luck.

Bekki Diabetic
Bekki Diabetic 2009-10-07 16:16:36 -0500 Report

There are exercises for people who are chairbound. There are small pedals that you can purchase online for people in a chair, like they are pedaling a bicycle. Any kind of motion they do will help. Have him extend his arms straight out to his side and make circular motions. Lift weights like Harlan was talking about. Have him lift his legs, straight out in front of himself about 10 times and lower them. I believe we all have difficulties exercising, especially if we are depressed and that sounds like he might be. That can be fixed. Ask his doctor.

kicker 2009-10-07 16:12:03 -0500 Report

my brother passed away last year and had diabetes since he was 14 years old. we used to do weights together at work-we owned a family business. everyday at the same time we would work out together. he didnt die from diabetes-staff infection. he is truly missed. when i do the weights now i know he is in heaven doing them with me.

Harlen 2009-10-06 13:01:21 -0500 Report

When I dont feal like doing anything I play with a small dumbell 2.5 lbs and just move it from one side to the next
tell him if he would like to eat he must do it lol
It must be hard on you to see this my mom whent thrue the same ting there just wasnt anything I was able to do for Her
So I did the only thing I was able to do and sed its your life but I would like to have you here a bit longer its up to you if your here or not
I wish you luck

Waltznfool 2009-10-07 14:36:56 -0500 Report

Thank you thats some good advice. Perhaps I can use a small weight too. Who knows, I've tried everything else (including the "work out or don't eat" threat…he knows me pretty well…he didn't buy it..

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