As we all know, COVID-19 has placed those in senior living, such as assisted living, memory care, or post-acute care into quarantine for their safety. A concern that comes along with that is the harmful effects that a sedentary lifestyle will have on the bones and muscles of the seniors who are not being placed into positions where they are naturally getting the exercise they need to prevent decline. Our communities are proud to have been adapting and acting decisively to ensure that all the people in our care are remaining active and steadfast on their fitness journey to remain in optimal health. Whether through virtual wellness classes, one-on-one exercises from the safety of the resident’s room such as Feel the Beat Fitness, or individually scheduled walks or outings around the community and our secure courtyards, we have made sure that the seniors continue to keep it moving even during quarantine. Here is why that is so important.
Lack of Exercise Has an Exponentially More Harmful Effect on Seniors
A few days of staying in bed for an older adult is exponentially different than a few days of staying in bed for a younger one. While you may have been keeping mostly in your bed during this quarantine and not had major health implications, the senior population is not that lucky. To really paint a picture of how disproportionately a lack of exercise can impact seniors, three days of bedrest for a senior can lead up to the equivalent of three weeks of muscular atrophy for a young, healthy individual. According to BetterHealth, “It has been suggested that people over the age of 65, more than any other age group, require adequate fitness levels to help them maintain independence, recover from illness and reduce their high risk of disease.”
Exercise is Vital to the Prevention of Older Adult Decline
There are five main risk factors to older adult decline and they can all be attributed in one way or another to a lack of exercise. The last thing that you want a senior to be doing is staying in bed all day. Whether they are in assisted living, memory care, home care, or post-acute care, it is vital to ensure that they are getting daily exercise. Experts note that, “Some estimates suggest that about half of the physical decline associated with old age may be due to a lack of physical activity.” That is another reason why it is absolutely paramount to ensure that seniors get regular exercise in any way that they can safely do so.
Regular Movement and Exercise Prevents Hospitalization for the Older Population
Unfortunately, other health complications and diseases did not disappear when COVID-19 came around. With that being said, it is important to remain innovative and committed to reducing hospitalizations and the transfer trauma that comes along with that. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion found that, “Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, the most common cause of non-fatal injuries, and the most common reason for hospital admission due to trauma in older adults. Maintaining physical activity is critical in helping to prevent falls and can…. help improve balance, strength and flexibility, and get patients moving again.” We simply can’t afford to forget about the other reasons a senior may have health complications.
It Provides a Sense of Normalcy and Routine
One of the most common and fundamental things that people of all ages seem to miss the most during this unprecedented year is that sense of normalcy and routine. Seniors, especially, thrive on that routine in their golden years. DailyCaring discussed the importance of routine for older adults, especially those in senior living, by saying, “As someone loses control over their physical abilities, independence, or cognitive abilities, their world becomes filled with more and more unknowns and if their days are unstructured and unpredictable, that can add more stress.” By providing new and safe ways to do the things they were used to doing before the pandemic began, it improves the health of their mind, body, and spirit simultaneously.