I have a 72 yr. old male client who is making tremendous progress (and can work circles around a couple of my 40-something guys) but complains about the struggles of aging at least once a week. He has always been a high energy, go-go-go type person, but the last couple years his body isn’t allowing that as much anymore.
Any suggestions on helping him with mindset and embracing the aging process?
this is a tough one because he does experience the certain decline that comes with aging, no matter how much we exercise and do all the right things.
I would continue to point all all that is going well and how great he is in comparison with people much younger than he. I also tend to point to athletes and use them as an example that they are doing but that they are no longer competing at the prime level.
You could also suggest that he look at Senior Games and maybe compete there. It may help him with perspective.
Although this can be challenging due to your client’s current mindset, I think there are a few things you can try to help him with the aging process. First, I would make sure to highlight his achievements and successes with his training, and how exercise can make him feel. Be compassionate, but remind him that his age is just a number–a detail that we do not have control over, but one that does not have to define us. We do however, have control over the way we think and things we do every day.
Gratitude can be key in helping him to change his mindset. Encourage him to see the good in each and every day, and be grateful for what he has currently. You can even give him “homework”, and ask him to tell you 3 good things that happened on the days you meet for training (as an example). Or, have him keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude makes us appreciate everything even more and can slowly adjust a mindset (hopefully!).
Perhaps revisit his goals and support him in setting some new challenges. In addition, add some brain/mind challenges into physical training mix and see if ignites a new spark.
Hope these ideas help you, and good luck!
How are you currently responding when he makes these comments?
It’s hard to see our clients struggling with age-related decline in fitness. Sometimes, I’m a cheerleader. Other times, I’m a realist. “Yes, it sucks that you can’t do “x” any more. I am here with you every step of the way to make your strength and movement last as strong and as long as we can.”
There is no easy or right answer but I will do my best. Many seniors suffer from depression and your guy might be one of them. Even if he’s pretty healthy, his body is still 72 years old. You and I don’t personally know what that’s like yet, but he’s bound to have some issues related to the aging process even if he hasn’t mentioned them. He may also be dealing with a lot of loss–friends, or perhaps a spouse who’s ill or who has passed. He could be feeling less useful if he’s retired–as though his life has less purpose. He may be looking back on his life and contemplating what he has or hasn’t done, and all of this can affect his outlook. It has more to do with his mental state than with his fitness level. But here are few suggestions you can propose to him:
Encourage him to get involved with other seniors. Your local Senior Center is a good place to start, as is a program like Meals on Wheels. If he’s healthy, he can volunteer, which will keep him busy and active and will expose him to others who may not be as healthy as he is. This should make him feel grateful for the gift of health and will put things into perspective a bit. He may even feel like he’s inspiring others and that he has more of a purpose. He could also look to a church or civil organization if he finds a meaningful connection to a cause. I’m thinking Big Brothers Big Sisters, Lions Club, and animal shelter, or a veterans’ organization if he’s a vet. He could mentor students in the field his career was in. Or maybe it’s something less structured like driving other, less healthy seniors to doctor appointments or errands.
I hope this helps. Good luck!
All good suggestions… the only thing I can think of adding is some active listening. You can try and reflect back his feelings to try to get him to open up and talk more to see if you can tell why he might be feeling that way. Sometimes all we can do is try to get people to talk it through for themselves and be good and empathetic listeners. Good luck!