I had very good friend named Anna who lived down the street from me. I remember while visiting a number of times looking out the front window to see an elderly woman make her way to the end of the street and back to her home. Anna would always make fun of the woman trying to exercise. Not too long after that Anna’s husband passed away. She was so devastated that she laid on her couch for 3 weeks. As she started to recover from the loss of her husband she tried to get up but the effort was too great. She was soon in the nursing home, bed ridden and in great pain as her muscles atrophy for 10 years before she finally passed away.
I was reminded of Anna when a friend told me she discovered that the less active you are as you age, the longer you may suffer immobility before you finally pass away, whereas the more active you are, typically the shorter time of immobility.
Paul Rousseau, MD stated in (Arch Fam Med. 1993;2:169-178) “Bed rest has historically been used therapeutically in management of many chronic maladies prevalent in elderly persons. Unfortunately, the deleterious consequences of immobility predispose elderly persons to significant functional decline and reduced quality of life…..Fortunately, contemporary studies have dispelled the myth that inactivity fosters healing and have suggested techniques that may prevent immobility-induce dysfunction and ensure beneficial outcome in fragile and aging populations.”
Immobility many times will occur after a hospital stay in as little as two days. Decline in muscle strength will many times result in falls as a result of increased fragility and functional decline. Nurses and hospital staff will treat the illness or the injury but are not set up for the added time and resources to keep a patient moving and active. It’s much easier and cost effective to keep a patient in bed then to help them move around. Also, a patient will resist moving around because of the extra effort or pain it takes to move. We also have a tendency to want to help them so that they can rest. It helps us to feel like we are helping them when instead we need to encourage them and make them do tasks that they can do for themselves, helping or assisting them in a task only when they need it.
There is a strategy to help keep patients moving. The first would be education. I would venture to say that most people think that you need to rest and be still in order to heal. If you take a few minutes to explain to a patient that they either need to use it or lose it in regards to there mobility they will be more likely to start working above an beyond in order to stay independent. They will understand the importance of the task at hand. There job should be to work at keeping their body moving and strong and to make them do as many tasks for themselves as they can. Keep them moving. Exercise programs are crucial to help with mobility, bone strength, disease prevention, and combating muscle loss.
Look at the patient lying alone in bed
What a pathetic picture he makes.
The blood clotting in his veins.
The lime draining from his bones.
The scybola stacking up in his colon.
The flesh rotting from his seat.
The urine leaking from his distended bladder
and the spirit evaporating from his soul.
Teach us to live that
we may dread unnecessary time in bed.
Get people up and we may save
patients from an early grave.
Dr. Richard Asher, 1942
Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/473141-the-effects-of-exercise-in-the-elderly-population/#ixzz21egbur4b