T Nation

Help Someone w/ Bad Posture, Aging Diseases


Long Story Short,

My mother, 50 years old suffers from degenerative disk disease and arthritis in the lower back and neck. She used to play soccer back in her early 20â??s, but after having 3 children that stopped and all exercise other than walking (less than 5 miles per week). Sheâ??s always suffered from lower back pain, but in the past year or two things have really picked up, i.e. the diagnosis with DDD and arthritis. She has bone spurs in her shoulder, and a possible rotator cuff tear as well.

In general she doesn't like exercising and hasn't done any real exercising in 25 years other than walking. Her posture is a mess, her back is out of alignment, doesn't follow the natural curve. Her diet is a mess too, low protein, high carbs and lots of refined foods.

The doctor has recommended water aerobics to her and basically wants to keep her full of cortisone all the timeâ?¦I would like to help my mother improve her health and quality of life but itâ??s difficult to do so with her medical conditions. My mother hasn't taken up the water aerobics yet nor do I think she plans to. Iâ??ve tried to help numerous times, offering to pay for her water aerobics classes, offering her better nutrition guidelines, trying to help her lose weight, etc. and she doesn't seem to want to budge.

She blames genetics for her problems. Itâ??s almost like she doesn't want to get better, she only wants everyone else to be as miserable as her (I could be projecting my own frustration with her here, so read lightly).

How can I help my mother improve her posture without worsening her DDD and arthritis, and aggravating her shoulder? I feel like she fell through a one-way path here and is beyond help, but there must be something I can do? I mean there is only so much encouragement I can give, true motivation needs to comes from within her, correct?


[quote]24Animal7 wrote:
I mean there is only so much encouragement I can give, true motivation needs to comes from within her, correct?[/quote]
Correct. With older adults, especially those new to exercise and especially-especially those with physical restrictions, they have to be the one to take the first step towards improving things.

There has to be some kind of trigger, whether it’s feeling better/less pain, dropping a dress size, meeting her girlfriends at the gym to gossip, whatever. Something has to click in her head that says “Okay, I’m ready to start.”

That said, you can remove as many obstacles and make it as relatively-low effort as possible. If you do food shopping or cooking, make smart healthful choices. Like you said about offering to for classes, that’s definitely a start. Just remember to think like a beginner, not like someone who already knows about training.

The health issues sound pretty significant, so I’d default to the doctor as far as intensity and frequency. Maybe clarify with them though, if “water aerobics” really means “low impact”, then that opens up some more options. If Doc is fine with her walking, and possibly eventually progressing to something like a weighted walk or a faster pace, then that’s an option.

If she’s cleared for resistance training, something as simple as 1 set of a few basic exercises right after each walk could be a start. The main thing though, with nutrition and exercise, is to go step by step, not expect or force any drastic changes, and not to push her too much (which is a fine line whenever it comes to giving advice to relatives/significant others).


My dad said the same bs. Won’t admit his heath problems are his fault. I brought him a 2 month membership to the gym one Christmas and he threw a shit-fit. That was the last time I got him anything for a holiday.

The point: don’t make her problems your problems.


One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my life…

You can’t and should not try to change someone.

One of two things will happen

  1. resentment, from both parties

  2. backlash

We are all birthed with the privilege to make our own choices.
If someone wishes to be in pain and not do anything about it, you must let it be.
Why? Because it isn’t you.
Problems will arise if you attempt to enforce changes without their permission.

You might be thinking that this is irrational.

I think it is irrational to get upset because someone doesn’t do what YOU want them to do…

The only thing that you can do, if you care for this person, is to just love them.
Many people search for spouses that will love them unconditionally, and for who they are…
We can do the same for our friends and family members.


First 50 is not old.

If walking is ok with her doctor I would start with this.

You can walk with her or get your dad to walk with her.