Breaking New Bad Habits, A Senior’s Challenge

Jul 29th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

New bad habits come upon seniors quite unexpectedly.  Most of the time we are unaware of their presence.  Some observant and trusted person may point them out.  A check up at the physician’s may reveal them.  A look in the mirror may suddenly create your a-ha moment:” I didn’t know I was doing that.”

There are all kinds of tics, behaviors, language, postures, long since practiced stances, words, phrases, offensive gestures, and so on that make their way into our repertoire.  And, like termites at the foundation, they have gained entry without our welcome.

What should be welcomed is the careful, tactical and courteous reminder of someone we hold dear helping us to discover these intruders into our lives and personalities.

Just the other day, my dear spouse had noticed my posture taking on that of “an old man,” i.e. stooped forward and downward gazing.   Not an attractive picture.  But, helpfully she got my attention.  I suffer from arthritis, osteo, which is not uncommon to septuagenarians and older. However, it also is preventable.  It is preventable when realizing the condition, being aware of how one is seeking to accommodate pain, and correcting standing and mobility practices each time you rise from chair or bed.

Practicing physical therapies which contribute to improvement, strengthened muscles, joint improvement and exercises, e.g. walking, will give you occasion to correct your own posture and steps.

There are a variety of other bad habits that worm their way into our daily practices.  Some are quite rude, and beyond me here to mention for fear of offending some who may not trust my observation or appreciate it.  That is not a problem isolated to any one of us.  Bad habits at the dinner table, offensive language, yawning or sneezing or belching without covering your mouth are some.  Some behaviors become so ingrained that the individual committing the offense is quite unaware of the act or its affect on others.

How to get at the need for addressing these in a way that doesn’t belittle the individual, but provides opportunity for assisting in correcting behaviors will depend largely upon relationship dynamics.  Introducing the subject will require good timing, careful wording, perhaps reinforcement by someone else.  Being aware that a one time nudge may not be enough is another consideration.

Volunteering to assist the individual with gentle reminders may also be welcomed.  Being careful not to embarrass the individual will be extremely important.  That will likely set progress back that may have been made..

Remember they live with their behavior 24/7, while your contact may be infrequent.  Choose and use your skills in diplomacy well.  The goal is helping the individual with behaviors that are negative to his/her life experience.  Helping them understand that is not a judgment, but a practical source for showing affection.



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