Elder Care Management

Exploring The Mind-Body Connection In Elder Care

 November 23, 2016

By  Deborah L Weiner Katz, OTR/L, CCM, CLCP

Our role in elder care depends a lot on where your loved one is in the aging process. The first major distinction would be whether or not he or she can still be cared for at home. If our assessment leads us to believe that your elder will be better cared for in an assisted living facility, then we will begin to advocate accordingly. Otherwise, our approach will be wholly different.

If the elder is still capable of participating in his or her own health care, we are prone to encouraging this and making appropriate suggestions. Obviously, a major concern for the elderly is cognitive decline and forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. Our immediate response to this concern would be to assess mobility. One should not have to be an expert to understand the mind-body connection.

According to NeuroscienceNews.com, there have been new findings linking physical activity to mild Alzheimer’s treatment. Sure, you may be thinking, exercise is good for the brain. However, the catch for seniors who are starting to experience cognitive impairment is that they are more and more prone to diminished activity.

This is why it is so important that we get to do our work sooner rather than later. It is too easily assumed that it is too late for them to be physically active. That is not necessarily true. Someone in the early stages of Alzheimer’s can still be active. They may just need assistance.

Common symptoms of dementia that are alleviated by physical activity include:

  • Agitation
  • Wandering
  • Sleeplessness

These studies show that physical activity not only treats these specific symptoms but overall cognitive decline is slowed down as well.

Measuring Activity 

In past studies, physical activity would be measured by devices worn on the body, accelerometers that collect data by the second. The problem is that the findings were just one overall score for the day. Since then, scientists have been attempting to look at the variability of physical movement depending on time of day. Recognizing patterns is key. Someone in the early stages of dementia may not be active at the same time of day as others. Figuring out their current routine, if they have one, at least allows us to come up with some recommended activities.

Recommended Activity

It goes without saying that any activity suggested for an elderly person should be low-risk and low-intensity. Walking remains the reigning champ as far as senior activities go. However, we owe it to our elders to keep the spice of variety in their lives. Here are a few more suggested activities:

  • Stretching
  • Tai chi
  • Household chores
  • Gardening
  • Walking around the mall

Some choices clearly still depend on your involvement or at least a mode of transportation. Others can still be done in or around the house. A consultation with us will definitely involve a thorough assessment of your family member’s unique situation and abilities. We are always eager to get started so please contact us today.

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