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Dad is in assisted living and even gets home visit PT. He gets irritated by my carefully stated attempts to encourage him walking with assistance or doing chair exercises and won’t go to exercise classes provided down the hall. I don’t want a fight.

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You’ve had lots of great responses here, with great advice. I’ll just add my experience based on my dad’s recent health issues. My dad is 90. Very independent, wants to do things his own way. He was trying to walk daily but just getting weaker. One of the unfortunate things we do in our culture is push our elders to keep on living, when it may be their time to go. We had dad do about a month of PT daily after he had COVID. When the therapists told us he just wasn’t making progress, we had him assessed for hospice and he qualified. He’s been much happier since. It’s ok to let him move towards death in his own way. Everyone is different - and as children we often want to focus on recovery. Sounds like sharing the highlights of his amazing accomplishments as you have been is one way to connect with him. My dad enjoys talking about his positive life experiences as well, and basically just spending time with me. We talk walks (I push him in his wheelchair) and we chat about the grass, flowers, weather. Anything that gives him joy. Hospice helped us bring him back to his home on the lake in our state for two weeks! He really enjoyed that vacation. It’s hard to watch them decline, I know. Just three years ago my dad was driving and walking without a walker. Now he has to be hoyered from bed to chair, to wheelchair. Be kind to yourself too. You are adjusting to his new normal as well. When my dad would get rude or angry - which happened often over the last two years - there were times I simply said, “You are being hurtful and unkind. You shouldn’t speak to me or treat me this way,” and he would eventually apologize. I tried to keep in mind that his rapid decline was terribly painful and difficult for him as well. My dad also suffers from dementia which plays a factor in his emotions and responses. Hang in there! You obviously care and are there for him - that’s so important!
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mailingjoanie57 Aug 16, 2021
Louise, Ive read your words here at just the right time in my journey with my Dad. I think he, and I, are going to breathe a little more easily now. Bless you and many thanks!
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I say this with much love and caring. Let it go, don’t argue. We want the best for them but if he doesn’t want it it’s ok. I just had to do this with my 91 year old Mom. I don’t want her last years to be me fighting with her over physical therapy. I want to remember us laughing and loving. 💕
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Daughterof1930 Aug 15, 2021
Well said!
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You cannot force him to do physical therapy, so leave him alone, that's my suggestion. Remain on good terms with your dad at this time in his life and avoid the fights by suggesting he do things "for his own good". At 93, he's probably tired and in no mood to do what he's in no mood to do. My mother is 94.5 and a huge "fall risk" having taken 77 falls over the past 4 years or so, the most recent one tonight. No matter how much I bugged her, she insisted she "didn't believe in exercise" and fought off PT fiercely, so she went into a wheelchair fulltime in June of 2019. She still falls...37x since becoming wheelchair bound, so there's nothing anyone can do about it but keep sending in the team to pick her up. I quit talking to her about exercises and PT a while ago and leave all those decisions up to her. It's her life, after all, as wretched as it's become. Sigh.

All we can do is be there for them. It never feels like quite "enough" either, but we have to remember they get to make their own decisions, too, good bad or indifferent. It's not worth fighting with your dad because you'll lose this battle ANYWAY, as will I.
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againx100 Aug 12, 2021
How challenging. I have backed waaay off on pushing my mom to be active but just can't keep from bringing it up at times. She does maybe 1/10th of what she should. The less she does, the less she can do, the more pain she is in, etc. Hard because she lives with me and it becomes a "the less YOU do, the more I have to do" which leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. Oh well......
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What's the home visit PT's view? - That person is better placed than you can possibly be to weigh up your father's physical condition, realistic scope for improvement, attitude and motivation and therefore gauge how much carrot and how much stick is likely to work best on him. What kind of co-operation does the PT say s/he is getting?

If you don't want a fight with him, don't fight - which means, mainly, zip it. It's his body and his exercise program, but it's also his level of pain or fatigue or despondency or whatever it is that's stopping him right now. You could ask him wider questions about what he's feeling and thinking, and see if that sheds any light on what's standing in his way, but don't think of it as your responsibility to get him "up and at 'em."
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Helenn Aug 15, 2021
Exactly right !!! Don’t make your visits all about this !! You won’t win!! Take advantage of time you have with your father to bring him special treats … walks … reminiscing and making him comfortable. It’s best you can do ! Put yourself in his shoes … you might be cranky as well
the exercise isn’t going to make much difference .
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My mother's nursing home got my mother to participate in hitting a balloon back and forth. She would never do anything deemed to be actual exercise, but for some reason this one activity she would do.
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LittleOrchid Aug 15, 2021
So true! Exercise is a chore, but games are for fun! It is really difficult for the overworked caregivers to invent activities disguised as games, but they are so much more effective!
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It shows you care.. but the tricky things are - you can't really make other people do anything (they will do what they want) & some things are just not in your control.

1. Your question "How to get Dad to move?"

Idea #1 find what motivation works for HIM. So he WANTS to move eg walk to the garden? Or walk to the AL coffee shop for a treat?
Idea #2 find what barriers exist eg painful knees, stiffness, short of breath, low mood. Work to reduce the barriers you can.

2. Your statement "I want to prevent decline. Tell him this. Tell him you care, you want to see him as healthy & happy as is possible. Tell him you don't expect him to run around the sports oval (have a laugh!) but could he try to move a bit? Tell him the specific benefits eg increase blood & oxygen flow, reduce stiffness. Ask how he is today. Accept where he is today.

3. "I don’t want a fight". ☹️ No.

I know a family that when the parent has a health issue, she gets an earful of nagging, do this, don't do that, you MUST blah blah blah from one adult child. The other actively listens & then asks what SHE wants to do about that? Both care greatly but their approach differs widely.

I have been guilty of the I-care-a-lot-so-suggest-xyz (& probably over suggested too) but have decided to head towards the other approach.

Suggest, let them decide, back off. Just less stress all round.

All the best with your Dad.
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Ahhh…the age old problem. He doesn’t want to be fixed, he doesn’t want to exercise and he wants to be in control. We want them to get better, stay active etc. it’s a losing battle so if I were you accept it. He is showing you he is in control and on top of that tired!
To me one of the hardest things was seeing the decline in my dad who was always so active and could do anything. So of course I wanted him to stay that way. I finally realized I had to give up that dream and accept reality. You need to as well. Enjoy your dad while you’re still able and don’t push him to exercise. That is a battle you won’t win so let it go.
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At this point you should stop nagging. Its his life and his choice.
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Reply to gofin4
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At 93, having lost several loved ones, and showing signs of depression, he may feel there is little reason to keep living. There is nothing wrong if this is his attitude. Have an honest talk with him about this. This may be hard for you to accept; nevertheless, you should try. You note his mind is still sharp. Instead of focusing on his body, which is in decline, maybe you can find ways for him to do something productive with his mind during his remaining time.
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Reply to annandpaul1629
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My dad certainly got crabby when we bugged him to exercise better or more. Our family spent a long time thinking he wasn’t trying as he should, when the reality was he was simply worn out. He was exhausted emotionally and sometimes physically by all the encouragement to do more and try more. We backed off and let him live life as he saw best, or at least the way he was comfortable. I can’t say your situation is the same, but people don’t reach their 90’s often without being worn out and discouraged
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