As the Coronavirus pandemic changes every aspect of society and our lifestyle, we’re focused on staying at home and reflecting and planning for the changes we want to see once we’re free to resume normal daily activities. Nursing homes are currently one of the most vulnerable groups and are heavily limiting unessential outside visitors.
But nurses in these care facilities can still plan on how they will improve the nursing home resident experience once they’re free to do so. These residents will be emerging at a time of severe trauma and uncertainty, and what better way to lighten the spirits and get back to a regular pace of life than with exercise!
Exercise is great for people of all ages, but it’s especially important for the elderly. For the younger generation, trying new things tends to be a lot easier, as almost everything is “new” to a child. For the senior generation, coming up with new ideas to exercise the body (and mind!) can be a bit more of a challenge.
Here are four ideas to try out regarding nursing home exercise.
Water You Waiting For?
The pool is not only a great place to cool off after a workout, it’s also a great place to do the workout itself. In addition to being a bit more relaxing than the gym, studies have proven that underwater exercise for the elderly increases joint flexibility and movement.
Some fun activities for your submersed seniors are “water pushups,” where you just stand in the water and put your hands on the wall and do a pushup motion, and “flutter kicks” are good for the legs, and can be done from the side of the pool just like the water pushups. Hang on to the side and let your legs float up behind you while gently kicking.
Hey, Listen to the Music
This one is twofold (or maybe even threefold!). First, listening to music while doing a physical activity generally makes an individual do that activity longer (this also is true for mental exercise, hence the threefold). This can help make someone in an assisted living home stretch their afternoon walk from 5 minutes to as long as their new favorite album is, just as a simple example.
On the other hand, performing music is a great way to exercise both the mind and the body. When learning a new instrument, the brain’s creative and cognitive parts will be getting a workout, but even if it happens to be an instrument that the person has known how to play for decades, the creativity aspects of rediscovering the instrument have similar effects. As an added bonus, most instruments actually do require a bit of physical exertion, so playing music checks a lot of boxes as far as health goes!
Individualized exercise can sometimes be the best way to get an otherwise anti-social member of your senior community to get up and get moving. Many social workers involved with elderly communities incorporate individualized exercise when working with a given person, and you can adopt these strategies, too.
Discussing past hobbies with whomever you have in mind regarding individualized exercise could spark something off the wall that could be the key to getting that person off the couch. Things such as fishing can now be “done” with video games, and lifelike controllers make the activities actually physical as well, even though you will be missing the feel of the great outdoors.
Remember that the Brain is a Muscle, Too!
Exercising the brain is every bit as important as exercising the body. Just as children’s creative minds need to be tapped into and molded in the early stages of life to nurture an innovative mind, seniors’ minds often need to a catalyst to spark creativity and innovation.
Some classic examples of innovation-sparking activities are puzzles, newspaper word games, Sudoku, etc., but there are many modern examples, including phone apps like Luminosity that are created solely for the purpose of stimulating the brain.
Breaking a mental sweat is also a great way to feel more confident and motivated to do physical exercise like all of the ones mentioned above. The positive effects of mental and physical exercise in the elderly are aplenty, and if you think that “it’s too late” to change exercise habits now, you’re pleasantly mistaken, as many measurable impacts of mental exercise show improvement in very short amounts of time, and these lead to a good mindset for implementing physical activity.
So bookmark this article and come back to it when life settles back into normalcy.
Photo by OakleyOriginals on flickr – Some Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.