As we gradually ease our way out of the pandemic, we’re uncovering more information on how senior fitness and strength have been diminished. We know that older adults are at a higher risk of serious side effects and death from the COVID-19 virus, yet the impact of 15 months of social isolation and physical distancing is just as distressing.
Dr. Jonathan Bean of the New England Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System has noted a “significant decline in functioning” in both his elderly patients and his own mother. While she had been able to walk with the assistance of a walker, take part in conversations, and engage in other activities of day-to-day life independently before the pandemic, her self-care and cognitive abilities have diminished rapidly.
Physical therapist Linda Teodosio confirms, explaining, “Immobility and debility are outcomes to this horrific pandemic that people aren’t even talking about yet.” She is observing a considerable increase in both chronic disease exacerbation and falls – very likely due to poor lifestyle choices during the pandemic, particularly unhealthy food intake and reduced exercise.
As a result, more and more seniors may require physical therapy along with other rehabilitative services to restore their strength and overall wellbeing. Interestingly, as much as 20% of an older adult's muscle mass may be lost by just not walking for up to five days, according to physical therapist Sabaa Mundia.
Before beginning an exercise program, however, it is critical that seniors first schedule an appointment with their physician for a full exam and tips about safe, ability-appropriate exercise. Then make a plan to help the seniors in your life stick with a healthy lifestyle that features plenty of exercise.
Let Amy’s Helping Hands, the Windsor, Ontario aging care experts, help the seniors you love remain as physically active and engaged as possible to stay strong post-pandemic. Our caregivers are always on hand to offer motivation and encouragement to help seniors make exercise a routine part of each day. We are also able to provide transportation and accompaniment to exercise classes, the fitness center, the pool – wherever and whenever an older adult would like to go. Sometimes, just adding in a daily walk with one of our friendly caregivers can make a world of difference in how older adults feel!