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Senior Mobility: If You Don't Use It, You Lose It

elderly woman walkingEver heard the saying use it or lose it? Turns out, this colloquialism applies to a variety of health topics.

Research published in Ohio State University’s Research and Innovation Communications revealed that older adults with COPD who completed a ten-week exercise program and then continued the program at home on their own fared much better psychologically and physically than their non-exercising counterparts.

Bones weaken with age, making it more difficult to get up and move around. Unfortunately, if a senior becomes sedentary, they risk losing their mobility altogether, making once simple tasks much more difficult. There are options that you can take advantage of to help make sure your loved one stays active, keeping their mobility as times progresses.

Make Changes Around the Home

Your loved one may be hesitant to walk around the home due to hazards such as stairs or slippery floors. Making modifications to the home or providing them with walking aids could encourage them to walk more. Try implementing no-slip mats or placing commonly-used items at eye level or lower.

Regularly Exercise

Even mild exercise is better than no exercise. Take your elderly loved one for short walks outside or have them enjoy time in a pool if possible – both are great, low-impact ways to use muscles. This can help them maintain body strength and improve their health overall, making it easier for them to get up and walk around.

Improve Balance and Reduce Falls

One of the main concerns seniors have is falling. Quite often, this is the result of the elderly individual not having enough strength to maintain their balance — a problem that is sometimes caused by immobility. Work with your loved one on maintaining balance. Some of the exercises you may want to try include the following:

  • One foot stand: Have your loved one hold onto the back of a sturdy chair and take turns standing on each foot, lifting the other off the ground and balancing for about 10 seconds, then repeating with each leg.
  • Walking heel to toe: As you have your loved one walk, have them put their heel directly in front of the toes of the foot. Have them focus on an area ahead of them and then take another step, putting the heel to the toe again. Repeat for 20 steps if possible.
  • Balance walk: Your loved one will take 20 steps, but as they move forward, have them focus on a particular spot ahead of them and walk in a straight line. With each step, they should lift the back leg and hold for one second before taking the next step.

The more you improve balance and mobility, the less chance your elderly loved one has of falling. As the balance improves, you can have them release the chair little by little so they no longer rely on it as much. You can also help by providing them with a cane or other product to help assist them and increase their mobility.

Know Your Loved One’s Limits

Improving your loved one’s mobility is more than just having them stand up and walk around a bit. It’s also about making sure they are not worried about falling or becoming too tired. When you’re helping them, know how long they can get up and walk for and do not push them past this point. While you may want to do more to improve their mobility, you can actually do more harm than good by working out too long or trying exercises with which you are unfamiliar.

Other Benefits

Increased activity in seniors can benefit more than just physical mobility. Researchers from the University of Maryland recently published their findings indicating that stopping exercise decreases brain blood flow, which is critical to cognitive health.

If you need help improving your loved one’s mobility, the At Home Healthcare team is here to help you. We can provide services necessary to help your loved one no matter the situation.

Call today and learn how we can help you.

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