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The Importance of Physical Activity for Care Home Residents

Two older men and one older lady, all seated and raising their hands above their heads
Seated Exercise can be fun

Physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regardless of age or physical ability.

Walking, Swimming, Dance and Gardening are just a few examples that can be enjoyed together.

Unfortunately, care home residents with limited mobility can face challenges when it comes to staying active.

Equally, engaging those with dementia in exercises can be challenging.

People with dementia often miss out on the essential practice of physical exercise due to staff misunderstanding how dementia can effect the personhood of those with the diagnosis.

Many people with dementia, moving in to care homes, have been physically active, running up and downstairs, walking well trodden routes in their neighbourhoods and even attending their local gym immediately prior to moving into their care home.

This should be considered when approaching the concerns of keeping the person safe in their new environment. Access to a safe area outdoors can really help maintain their feelings of autonomy. This can also help prevent the very common problems of anger and hostility felt when it is clear that they have been 'locked in'.

As activity coordinators, it's our responsibility to find ways to promote physical activity among residents with limited mobility.

We must appreciate the importance of physical activity for care home residents, understand the mobility needs of each, and adapt physical activity programmes to fit their abilities.

I hope to encourage activity coordinators to continue seeking new ways to help care home residents experience the physical and mental benefits of staying active.

Why is Physical Activity so important for care home residents?

To truly understand the importance of physical activity for care home residents, we must first recognise their unique mobility needs.

Limited mobility can not only hinder physical activity but also lead to social isolation, depression, and other health issues.

Therefore, it's crucial for activity coordinators to understand each resident's mobility limitations and create customised physical activity programmes which suit their needs.

Understanding the Mobility Needs of Care Home Residents

Many residents have decreased muscle strength, balance and coordination impairments, and joint pain which can limit their ability to move.

Underlying medical conditions such as arthritis, stroke, or Parkinson's disease can also affect mobility.

Activity Coordinators must have a thorough understanding of each resident's mobility abilities and limitations to create customised physical activity programmes which promote independence, social interaction, and overall wellbeing.

In order to establish a full understanding, Activity Coordinators must have access to personal records of each resident, as well as regular discussions with other members of staff to exchange information regarding changes in physical conditions.

By adapting physical activity programmes to suit their abilities, care home residents can experience more opportunities to achieve a sense of accomplishment, boost self-esteem, and enhance their quality of life.,

Adapting Physical Activity Programs for Residents with Limited Mobility

Activities such as chair exercises, tai chi, and dancing can promote mobility, improve balance, and strengthen muscles.

For residents who are restricted to their beds, physical therapists can develop customised programmes that involve gentle stretching, range-of-motion exercises, respiratory exercises, and sensory stimulation.

The key is to make physical activity programmes enjoyable and engaging by incorporating music, props, and games.

This approach can encourage residents to participate and create a social atmosphere that fosters camaraderie and improves their mental health.

By developing customised physical activity programs that suit the mobility needs of each resident, care home staff can help residents achieve their full potential and maintain their physical and mental health. With a little creativity and innovation, even residents with limited mobility can enjoy the benefits of physical activity and lead fulfilling lives.

Examples of suitable Physical Activity for Care Home Residents:

Chair Aerobics; This low-impact form of exercise can be done from a seated position, making it ideal for residents who have limited mobility or are unable to stand without assistance. Chair aerobics classes can be tailored to different levels of fitness, making it accessible to everyone.

Dance Therapy; This incorporates music and movement to improve mood and reduce anxiety, while also improving balance and coordination.

Residents can participate in group dance sessions or have one-on-one sessions with a therapist, or dance teacher.

Dance movements can be adapted to accommodate different levels of mobility.

Aquatic Therapy; Water provides a low-impact environment that reduces pressure on joints, making it ideal for residents with conditions such as arthritis.

Aquatic therapy can include a range of activities such as swimming, water aerobics, and walking in the water.

These classes not only improve physical fitness but also provide a social opportunity for residents to come together and enjoy each other's company.

In conclusion, physical activity is vital for care home residents, regardless of mobility limitations. By understanding their individual needs and adapting programs accordingly, caregivers can help promote movement and exercise. Successful physical activity programs have already been implemented in care homes, demonstrating the mental and physical benefits for residents. We urge caregivers to continue seeking new ways to keep care home residents active, and to apply the tips and techniques shared in this post.

Remember, movement is for all, and caregivers have the power to make it happen.

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