Aging in Place Article 2: Exercise
By: Victoria Savage RN, Director of Clinical Services and Geriatric Care Manager at Care for Living LLC.
(Victoria Savage is an RN with 20 years of experience specializing in Elder care. and a passion for seniors that started in early childhood when her best friend was 82 year old Evelyn. She brings passion, knowledge and love to her practice and is fierce in her advocacy of the senior population.)
From all the information available today everyone knows that exercise is important to maintaining optimum health at any age. This is true for the senior population as well. Not only does this true for seniors, but exercise may be even more important for the senior population.
The old adage “use it or lose it” is magnified in the senior population. This is primarily because aging causes a loss of muscle mass that is concurrent with the decline of all the bodily systems which can become sluggish as time progresses. What does not slow down in the senior population is the rate of decline for non-use. When an individual is in their thirties and forties one can get away with exercising only on occasion and, often, when a stricter exercise regimen is resumed, the effects can be seen rather quickly.
It is a very different picture in the senior population. Not only is muscle slower to regenerate in seniors but the lack of weight bearing exercise contributes to a decrease in bone density and places them at an increased risk for fractures.
Another casualty of the sedentary lifestyle is balance. Poor balance in the senior population can be caused by several factors including medications and health conditions, but one preventable cause is a lack of use. One way to maintain better balance is by simply taking a 30 minute walk a few times a week or going for a bicycle ride. Performing balance exercises as simple as balancing on one foot and then the other while standing next to a counter or bed for support will help to restore better balance more quickly. Balance improves with use and declines quickly if not maintained. Poor balance is the nemesis of seniors, wreaking havoc by way of falls, broken hips, fractured pelvises and head injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented with regular exercise.
Another benefit of regular exercise to the senior population (as in all age groups) is mood elevation. The social aspect of walking with a buddy and the physical aspect of getting the blood pumping to all body parts (including the brain) releases endorphins, which have a positive impact on their mood.
To sum it up, exercise in any form is beneficial to the senior population for many reasons. So grab a friend, a pair of sneakers, and a cane if you’re unsteady at all, and start moving. You’ll be all the better for it and be able to maintain a more independent lifestyle longer.
There are many resources for learning safe effective exercises for seniors. The Treasure Valley YMCA has exercise programs specifically developed for seniors, and in the next few weeks they are launching a new “Well Achieve” program designed for the elderly population.
If you have questions or concerns about a senior in your life, call Victoria with Care for Living at 473-8254 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, the following website has a variety of senior exercise options as well as advice and instruction: http://www.ehow.com/way_5407398_geriatric-exercise-routines.html