Father’s Day is just about here and for most of us, there is always a scramble to go out and get him a gift that hopefully, is going to hit the mark. But the problem always is, when buying a gift for a parent is the question, what to get him? After all, he can get himself just about anything. And over the years if he wanted something special, chances are he’s already bought it for himself.
But this year, why not take a step back and take a good look at your Dad. Just what kind of shape is he in, health-wise we mean. After all, you know his habits, both good and bad, but how healthy is he really? Like most fathers’ (who are men) they don’t like to answer that question for themselves. Hopefully, your Dad is moderately healthy, but if he’s not, just how do you go about opening up the conversation that you want, no need him to get himself in better shape!
Tips for Talking to Dad About His Health
Before you dive into a conversation with your dad, spend a little time thinking about how to best approach the topic. Make it clear that you’re coming from a place of love and that you’re bringing up the issue because you are concerned about his well-being. Here are some tips for talking to your dad about his health:
Ask your dad if he has any concerns. Although there’s a chance your dad may be convinced, he’s immortal, there’s an even better chance he’s afraid of getting old, you know, fear of dying.
He may not want to address his health issues because it’ll remind him that his aging body is starting to decline. But ask him if he has concerns about his health and see if he’s willing to talk.
Stick to the facts. If you’ve noticed changes in your dad’s health, gently point out the facts. Say something like, “Dad, this is the second time you’ve fallen this month,” or “I notice you get short of breath now when you’re walking to the garage.” The facts may help increase his awareness that a problem exists. Just don’t be surprised if your dad minimizes the issue or tries to change the subject.
Express your feelings with “I” statements. Saying, “You never take care of yourself,” will likely put your dad on the defensive. Stick to “I” statements such as, “I’m really concerned that you haven’t seen a doctor in a few years.”
Problem-solve obstacles and barriers. Ask what stands in the way of seeing a doctor. He may say he can’t take time off from work to get to the appointment, or he might say he doesn’t know how to find an in-network primary care physician because his insurance plan is too confusing.
Offer to help him problem-solve those barriers.
Seek help from another trusted loved one. Most dads don’t take advice from their kids very well. So be prepared to get other trusted adults involved, if necessary. Your dad might be more willing to listen to your mother, his mother, a family friend, or a clergy member. If you can’t make any progress, seek help from one of them.
Take it slow. Don’t expect your dad to leap into action after a single conversation. Your words may take time to sink in. Wait a little while after your first conversation and gently bring up your concerns again at a later date.
Once you’ve taken the first step in clearing the air and broaching the subject that you’ve been hesitant to do for the past couple of years. You may just be surprised when he agrees with you. It’s not uncommon, sometimes a person just needs a nudge to move them into a more fit and active lifestyle. After all, they really are aware of what kind of shape they really are in. After all, they have to deal with how their bodies feel each and every day.
So now that you’ve got his attention what’s next?
Before you start First and foremost get a complete medical checkup! This includes blood pressure, cholesterol, joints, and back evaluation, especially if they’ve have had pain in these areas. Their weight should be evaluated as well as a bone density scan if osteoporosis may be a concern, skin cancer screening, and a cardiac stress test. You dad and your doctor may not feel you need all of these, but this is a pretty comprehensive list.
If his doctor detects blood pressure or other heart issues, it may be helpful to get a heart rate monitor to help you to know how much you should or should not push yourself when first starting out. One great smartwatch that has proven itself again and again for those that need to monitor their heart during exercise, or simply going about their daily activities is the Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker The Fitbit Charge 3 Activity Tracker brings a great group of tracking features that will allow your dad to keep track of just how well he's doing. It's Swim Proof, offers Touch Screen Features, FitPay, Tracking, and comes with both the small and large band. This multi-sport smartwatch will allow him to take action to improve his lifestyle! The Fitbit Charge 3 is an advanced fitness tracker that uses 24/7 heart rate monitoring, so you know just how you’re doing and how much you're pushing yourself through your various exercise routines.
Depending on what type of activities your dad plans to go for, make sure he has the right gear, especially shoes. A poorly fitting shoe can get him off to a painful start or worse, they can cause injuries.
You need to get him a pair of shoes designed for a good walking program or even running if your dads ready for it when you plan to play court sports. Getting fitted out at a reputable athletic shoe store is the way to go. Their staff will be experienced in fitting people with the right types of shoes depending on what sport activity they wish to pursue.
Ok, you're fitted out with the right shoes, what’s next?
Actually, "The Sky is the limit"! There are almost endless opportunities to choose from when deciding what to do to be more active. You can join classes at a gym, join a hiking club, neighborhood walking groups or park and rec sports teams such as softball. Try out some new activities such as kayaking, stand up paddleboard. Stop and think of the activities over the years that have caught your interest, but you have never tried. Try one! Or two, or ten! The main thing is to do it!
Consider joining a gym for support and a source of certified instructors and classes to get him started. Many gyms offer senior discount rates as the aging population of boomers is rapidly growing. Personal trainers offer not only motivation but are an excellent source for guidance in moves, safety, realistic goals.
Check into your local park and rec department for classes and activities that offer not only outlets for challenging yourself physically, but a community of people who are doing the same. After all, getting out amongst other people may help your dad be more active, once he's among other people.
You can start out with some power walks at a pace that is a challenge for you but won’t leave you in muscle pain and soreness for days after.
The American Heart Association recommends that inactive people gradually work up to exercising three to four times a week for 30-60 minutes at 50%-80 % of their maximal heart rate.
The key is to increase his activity level gradually over the course of 6 weeks. 20% a week is recommended. Incorporate exercise into his daily life and do it vigorously. Your Fitbit Charge3 will help with tracking just how well your dad's doing. Using this great tool will allow him to see just how well he's doing each time he goes out and provide an incentive to beat his previous times and distance.
Remember to learn good, basic stretching and practice daily whether you work out or not.
Regardless of what you choose to do, remind yourself that this has been a while since you’ve done anything really physical on a regular basis.
It may take a bit for his body to get used to being challenged and all that it now needs to do in order for him to reap the benefits of being active. Encourage him to be patient with himself and keep telling himself every day that he is making a difference.
So, tell your Father, to have a Happy Father’s Day, and just Go for it!