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home heath care provider exerciseAccording to home health care provider experts, seniors should participate in mobility exercises on a regular basis.  A home health care provider can assist seniors with performing mobility exercises, which can lead to an improvement in overall functioning.

Mobility exercises should be part of every senior’s physical activity regimen.  Doing mobility exercises on a regular basis can help seniors maintain joint flexibility, decrease their risk of falling, reduce pain, increase self-confidence.  In addition, these exercises allow seniors to remain independent longer by enabling them to continue everyday activities that involve bending, lifting, walking and tasks like opening jars. Before beginning any exercise program, it is always best to check with a doctor or home health care provider about appropriate activities given the specifics of one’s health and mobility.

There are several different types of activities that can improve senior mobility.  Seniors may wish to consider the following:

Water Activities

Exercising in the water is a gentle form of exercise that is usually easier and less painful for people with joint pain or inflammation due to arthritis or fibromyalgia. Since water makes individuals naturally buoyant, there is less chance of falling, and weight and pressure is taken off the joints. If the water is warm, water exercise can improve blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and raising the senior’s body temperature.  The water level can be adjusted according to fitness level, with chest deep water offering a more strenuous work out than waist deep water.   Start by walking across the pool or around the perimeter, increasing repetitions as strength increases.

Chair Activities

Excising while seated in a chair can help mobility impaired or wheelchair bound seniors improve their mobility and can also be used as a warm up for individuals with greater mobility. In addition to activities done while seated, more able-bodied individuals can do exercises using the chair for balance or stability. Different types of chair exercises can be guided by specifically designed videos or TV programs, during classes for older adults provided at facilities like the YMCA, or by a home health care provider.

Stay Safe

It is important to be cautious when beginning an exercise program.  Begin gradually and increase the intensity and duration after building up stamina and skill. Dress in clothing that allows for unrestricted movement, with properly fitted shoes. Drink lots of water while exercising to avoid dehydration.  If exercising outside, beware of hazards like uneven surfaces, traffic, and obstacles like rocks and branches.  Make sure to exercise in a safe area and do not exercise outside if temperatures are extreme. In addition, all individuals – and particularly those with conditions including shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations, rapid unexplained weight loss, blood clots, hernia, pneumonia or other infections, or joint inflammation or pain should consult with a doctor or home health care provider before beginning an exercise program.  In addition, seniors should use extreme caution while exercising and individuals who experience dizziness, nausea, sudden pain or break out in a cold sweat while exercising should stop immediately.

By integrating mobility exercises into seniors’ regular routines, senior adults can expect to see improvement in their mobility and overall quality of life.

Home Health Aide AssistanceAlthough there are many things to get done before having hip or knee surgery, an important aspect of getting ready is preparing the house where recovery will occur. Far in advance of going to the hospital for surgery, it is crucial to prepare the home to make recovery and life easier afterwards.

Consulting with a doctor, nurse, physical therapist or home health aide that knows the specifics of the individual’s situation and can make recommendations about home preparations in advance is critical.  Generally, there are a number of important preparations to consider:

Accessibility:

If possible, plan to have everything needed for recovery on the same floor.  While it is preferable not to use stairs at all initially, their use will need to be limited to once a day if they cannot be avoided entirely. In addition:

  • The bed used during recovery should have a firm mattress and be low enough that one’s feet touch the floor while sitting on the edge of the bed. Ideally, the bed will be on the first floor of the house.
  • A bathroom or a portable commode should be located on the same floor where most of the day will be spent.
  • Food and other supplies should be in a cupboard between waist and shoulder level.
  • Phone and charger should be easily accessible.
  • Frequently used items should be placed on the kitchen counter or another location that is between waist and shoulder level.
  • Chairs with a firm back should be located in each frequently used room, including kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, to enable sitting while doing daily tasks.

Supplies

There should be sufficient supplies at home to last several weeks, or as long as the doctor recommends.  In addition to regular supplies, there may be other items to consider purchasing with can be particularly helpful during recovery.  Items to consider include:

  • Canned or frozen food
  • Shampoo, toilet paper and other personal items
  • Medications
  • Crutches, a cane or a walker
  • A shower sponge with a long handle
  • A long-handled shoehorn
  • A sock aid to help put on socks
  • A reacher to help pick up things from the floor and assist with putting on pants and taking off socks

Bathroom Preparation

The bathroom presents many hazards so it is important to consider the following preparations:

  • Raised Toilet Seat: There are several ways to raise the toilet seat to help prevent excessive flexing of the knee.  Options include adding a seat cover or an elevated toilet seat, utilizing a toilet safety frame or using a commode chair instead of a toilet.
  • Safety Mats: Non-slip suction mats or rubber silicone decals should be put on the floor of the tub to help prevent falls.  A non-skid bath mat should also be placed outside the tub.
  • Bath or Shower Chair: A bath or shower chair with rubber tips on the bottom should be used for bathing. A seat without arms should be used in a bathtub.
  • Safety Bars: The doctor may recommend installing safety grab bars in the bathroom.  It is important to remember that towel racks cannot substitute as grab bars as they are not designed to withstand the weight of a person.
  • Placement of Essential Items: Items like soap and shampoo should be easily accessible and should not require twisting, standing up or straining to reach.  Towels and wash cloths should also be within easy reach.

Home Safety Preparation

To minimize the risk of tripping the following precautions should be taken:

  • Remove loose wires or cords in walking areas.
  • Remove loose throw rugs.
  • Fix any uneven flooring, especially in doorways.
  • Make sure there is good lighting in place.
  • Place night lights in hallways, bathrooms and other dark rooms.
  • Arrange for fast-moving or small pets that can cause falls to stay elsewhere during the first few weeks.

Other preparation

Other preparations to consider are:

  • Prepare or purchase single serving meals that can be frozen and reheated later.
  • If a health care professional recommends using a walker, attach a small basket or strong bag to it to hold important items such as a cell phone, notepad, pen, eyeglasses etc. Alternatively, a fanny pack may be used.  Nothing should be carried in one’s hands when walking after surgery as they may be needed to provide balance.
  • Practice using a cane, walker, crutches, or a wheelchair to correctly sit down to use the toilet and stand up afterwards, get in and out of the shower, use the shower chair and go up and down stairs.

Arrange for Home Care Assistance during Recovery

Unless someone lives at home and can help for the first 1 or 2 weeks after surgery, it is important to arrange to have someone come in who can assist with bathing, using the toilet, cooking, running errands, shopping, doctor visits, and exercising as needed. If a family member or friend cannot help, a health care professional may recommend having a trained caregiver or home health aide come to the home to help.  A home health aide or trained caregiver can also check the safety of the home and help with daily activities.

senior health care walkingEveryone knows they are supposed to exercise, but isn’t it too late to start an exercise routine once one is elderly, sick or under home health care?  The good news it is almost never too late to introduce some kind of exercise.  Obviously high-impact aerobic classes are not going to be a starting place for the elderly who have not previously been active, but walking for about 30 minutes a day is manageable for many seniors. Studies have shown that, even into one’s 90s, cardiovascular health and strength can be improved with regular physical activity.

Before beginning an exercise routine, it is best to check with a doctor about the best strategy for that individual and to make sure that any activity undertaken will be safe. Most people, especially older adults, are not getting enough regular exercise and often walking seems manageable since it is something most seniors are already doing each day to carry out the basic activities of daily living.  The key for those individuals is to increase the amount of time they are walking and make sure they are doing it daily.

The potential benefits of walking are many.  Senior health care studies have shown that:

Walking can increase one’s life span by promoting better health: Leading a sedentary lifestyle results in lower aerobic capacity and in loss of muscle.  Muscle loss affects flexibility and sense of balance which can increase the risk of falls. Walking as a form of exercise, helps combat these, and can also help maintain a lower blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure from developing or worsening.  Walking also seems to help stave off or lower the effects of osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, disabilities and weight gain.  Regular exercise diminishes the risk of premature death.

Walking can provide mobility and independence: Being able to get around can help give seniors a sense of purpose and helps them avoid feeling like a burden on others. The longer a senior is able to remain independent, possibly even continuing to work part-time or be involved in volunteer work, the better for his or her overall sense of purpose and feeling like a contributing member of society. Even if they rely on others for some assistance or have home health care assistance, being able to do some things on their own helps prolong a sense of independence, which in turn helps promote good mental health.

Walking promotes good mental health: Being mobile and having a sense of purpose can improve self-worth.  Together, these benefits can help seniors avoid feeling like a burden, which in turn helps seniors avoid falling into depression.

Walking can affect your brain: Regular exercise can promote better reasoning, memory and reaction time.

Given all of these benefits, walking can be a great way to promote all aspects of health and physical and mental wellbeing.  Whether it’s at a mall in combination with some shopping, out enjoying nature or walking in the community and connecting with others, getting out and walking is a great way to go for older adults.