When I was the Director of Social Services at a nursing home, I worked closely with physical and occupational therapists on our SAR (sub-acute rehabilitation) unit. There, we helped older adults recover from heart attacks, strokes, accidents, and more. I was responsible for the discharge planning and the therapists helped the patients regain as much strength and functioning as possible.
If you’ve ever needed weeks of physical or occupational therapy, you can relate — it isn’t easy. I’ve never had to do it myself, but judging from my patients’ and coworkers’ comments, it’s extremely hard to get up and go through those exercises every day. Sometimes, you even have to do them two or three times a day!
That’s why it was common for our patients to be reluctant to participate in therapy — or just outright refuse to go. Although we understood their reasoning, it was part of our job to convince them of the importance of these exercises, and indeed, to keep moving in general. That’s because unlike younger generations, once older adults lose physical abilities, they may never regain them.
When older adults stop moving: possible consequences
When older adults stop being physically active, it can have far-reaching consequences. One of the most salient is the increased risk of falls due to lack of balance, coordination, muscle strength, and more. Also, when little weight is put on the bones, they can grow weaker over time. This means there’s a greater possibility of your loved one acquiring a bone-related condition like osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Combined with the increased risk of falls, these conditions mean the victim is more likely to seriously injure themselves in a fall (for example, breaking a hip). For older adults, this can eventually lead to a permanent lack of mobility, possibly consigning them to wheelchairs or even leaving them bedridden for the rest of their lives.
And unfortunately, lack of physical activity doesn’t just affect the body — it may have an impact on the brain as well. Older adults who continue to stay active throughout their lives may decrease their risk for Alzheimer’s. Conversely, if they succumb to inertia, they may increase the odds of suffering the high costs of a dementia-related illness.
Keep on keepin’ on: how home care in San Mateo can help
The good news is that your loved one doesn’t have to take up bodybuilding or run a marathon to see the benefits of exercise. In fact, just a few hours a week of home care in San Mateo may be enough to do the trick.
For example, physical and occupational therapists can visit their home if needed. Home health aides can guide them through follow-up exercises given by their therapists, take them on walks, or help with doctor-approved activities like stretches or yoga. Of course, no one is asking your love one to take on more than they are physically able to do. If they need assistance with cooking or light housework, that is also something a home health aide can provide.
Many older adults (and even their families and loved ones) are under the impression that having someone help around the house will lead to a loss of independence. However, a good home health aide will only do the things their client is unable to, while encouraging them to do the things they can. In this way, having home care in San Mateo may actually keep older adults independent – and in their own homes.
Get started with home care in San Mateo today
It’s tempting to put off exercising for all of us, but as you’ve seen, it can be especially devastating for older adults. So don’t wait to get home care in San Mateo that can help your loved one be as strong, healthy, and independent for as long as possible. Remember — a body in motion tends to stay in motion!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.