When you spend every day at home with your family, it’s hard to ignore facts when it becomes evident that your parents aren’t eating as healthily or exercising as much as they should. Such discoveries are more than just additional issues for you to worry about; they are also opportunities for you to advise your parents on how to break out of their unhealthy habits.
Help them recognise the problem
Parents can be really stubborn because they have relatively more life experience, making them prone to an “I know better” mindset. Furthermore, if they don’t think something is a problem, they will be much less likely to correct it. The best way to get them to recognise the problem is to guide them to a come to a conclusion themselves, and that means introducing the issue at hand gently. “I recently heard about some side effects of…” rather than “I think you should stop doing this”. When it comes to helping your parents recognise the problem, always respect their seniority and give them some credit – they may already know that their unhealthy habits are a problem but are just too clueless to know any better.
Recommend practical solutions
Doing one's research on how to remedy certain unhealthy habits and finding solutions you want to recommend to your parents is an obvious step to take. Before you do so however, stop and consider if these are the most practical solutions for your parents’ situation. Climbing the stairs every day to get more exercise might sound reasonable to you, but if your parents have physical ailments like knee injuries that make such tasks painful, daily stair-climbing won’t be a good long-term solution. Besides being practical, solutions also have to be attractive to your parents. Don’t force them to join classes they have no interest in. If you really want them to try out a new activity that they are reluctant to, going together with them would be a great way to change their mind. Some good old parent-child bonding time never goes wrong.
A powerful way of impressing upon parents the importance of keeping good health at their age is to do the ol 'switcheroo. Project their situation on yourself instead and ask them how they would react. Being your parents, they will naturally jump into problem-solving mode. Take note of the words they use and how they emote. When they're done, use that to enable them to realise that whatever they felt is exactly the same as you're feeling now, and how the consequences of inaction will be no different. It might get a little dramatic, but the results tend to speak for themselves!
Lastly, remember that you are speaking as a concerned child and not as your parent’s parent or a medical practitioner, so don’t be authoritative and forceful in your approach and don’t force them to adopt solutions that aren’t medically approved. Let them figure out what’s best for them or get them to see a medical professional. Always be gentle and let them feel the love and concern behind your gestures – this is often enough to motivate them to take the first step towards change!