Improving Mobility in Seniors

For so many seniors today, one of the biggest challenges they face on a day-to-day basis is dealing with declining mobility. As seniors start to become less active, it becomes more difficult for them to get around when they do want to be mobile. While the problem is a common one, it isn’t impossible to combat. In fact, there are several easy, yet effective tips to help improve mobility in seniors and enjoy a better quality of life where getting around is easier than ever.

Here are a few tips to get started:

Walk, Even With Assistance

Walking is such a great activity for seniors, whether they are just walking around their home, or power-walking for several miles. While seniors should ideally be able to walk unassisted, that may not always be possible, especially if they have balance issues. If seniors need a walking aid, they should use it, as long as they are getting up and moving.

If possible, seniors should use an aid that offers the most mobility possible. So, if seniors have the option between a cane and a walker, but can safely use just the cane, they should do it.

When it comes to starting a walking routine, begin with short distances and slowly add a minute to your time every week. So, week 1, you walk for 10 minutes, and week 2 you walk for 11, until seniors are able to get up to 30 minutes per day. This slow progression can help seniors increase their strength, cardiovascular health and most importantly their mobility.

Balance, Balance, Balance

One of the biggest factors that tends to prevent seniors from being as mobile as they want to be has to do with balance issues. If seniors aren’t able to maintain proper balance, then they simply aren’t going to be as mobile as they want. Balance exercises should always be incorporated into any senior’s daily routine. Here are just a few exercises that specifically help build balance:

  • Core and abdominal exercisers
  • Balancing on one foot (use a wall or bed for support and attempt 10 seconds at a time)
  • Walking with one foot directly in front of the other
  • Glute and hip exercises
  • Gentle yoga moves
  • Daily full-body stretching to loosen up and activate muscles

    Make Exercise a Social Event

Seniors who want to improve their mobility and change their lives need to start somewhere, but the most important part of improving mobility has to be consistency.  An active lifestyle is crucial to long term health.  In order to see results, seniors should be doing something every day. In order to keep seniors accountable, joining a senior group, taking classes or having a workout buddy can really help with accountability.

Get in the Water

Any pool exercises, from walking in water to swimming and particularly water aerobics are fantastic ways for seniors to improve mobility. This is because these exercises allow seniors to move freely without any extra weight or pressure on their joints as they exercise in the weightless environment of the water.

Seniors may be surprised how quickly and easily they are able to improve their range of motion, strengthen their muscles and become more mobile when they start practicing in the water first.

Any senior who is sick of feeling restricted with their mobility should give these tips a try and see first-hand what a difference they can make in their overall quality of life.

Carlos Lopez is the director for Disabled Friends. He also handles the department of disability resources for MedicareFAQ, a learning resource center for all seniors and Medicare beneficiaries.

Alzheimers & Memory Care

Alzheimers & Memory Care

According to researchers, more than 28 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia, is considered by some as the defining disease of that generation. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but more importantly, the disease presents very real challenges in care. Alzheimer’s or memory care is a specialized form of long-term care that’s designed to meet the specific needs of people with Alzheimer’s or dementia with 24-hour supervised care, personal care services, and more.

What is Memory Care?
Memory care is a specialized form of care that includes a range of services depending on the severity of a senior’s symptoms. While people with early Alzheimer’s disease may just need cues to help them perform tasks, others require a secure setting to prevent them from wandering away and getting lost or hurt. Security is essential as an estimated 60% of people with Alzheimer’s will wander.

Memory care exceeds the level of services and security traditionally offered in a long-term care facility. While assisted living and memory care both include housekeeping, meal preparation, and laundry services, memory care also increase more advanced help with daily activities. In many cases, activities offered in a memory care facility are designed to help the person reconnect with favorite interests.

Many assisted living and nursing home facilities today offer entire neighborhoods or wings devoted to residents who need memory care. These centers are usually designed in a way to reduce stress and prevent wandering. Many have natural light, a circular design for safe wandering, and door alarms, and memory boxes outside each room to help residents find their home.

Most memory care treatment centers can accommodate people in the early, middle, and late stages of Alzheimer’s and dementia with a low staff-to-resident ratio for greater supervision.

Services Offered in a Memory Care Facility
Memory care centers may offer a range of therapeutic, leisure, and medical programs that differ from assisted living. This may include:

  • Leisure programs. Most memory care communities offer leisure programs and activities designed to reduce stress among residents. These programs may include listening to soft jazz and classical music, aromatherapy, sensory games, and puzzles.
  • Therapeutic programs. These programs can address memory impairment, wandering, and behavior typically associated with dementia for improved quality of life.
  • Behavioral management programs to address harmful behavior common among people with Alzheimer’s.
  • Uniquely designed community with circular design for safe wandering, brightly color-coded sections to help residents find their way, and memory boxes.
  • Security with door alarms/locks, a lower staff-to-resident ratio, and other strategies to reduce injuries and elopement.

The Cost of Memory Care
Assisted living and memory care can both be costly options, although the cost of long-term care will depend on many factors like geographic area, the size of a room or apartment, whether the space is shared with another resident, and what services are needed.

Assisted living usually has a base monthly rate that covers room and board and two or three meals each day. On average, a one-bedroom assisted living apartment costs $3,300 per month. Additional services like housekeeping and laundry are extra. Because memory care is a specialized service, the cost tends to be much higher. A home in a dedicated memory care facility costs about $5,000 per month on average.

On both cases, there are options to help pay for memory care and reduce out-of-pocket expenses. This may include Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, and long-term care insurance.

Is Memory Care the Right Choice?
Assisted living may be a great choice if a loved one is still relatively independent and able to perform some activities. When a loved one has more complex care needs with memory impairment, dedicated memory care is typically the best option. A memory care community can come with many benefits over assisted living, including:

  • Reduction in the use of medication and medication side effects.
  • Decreased injuries and falls through greater supervision.
  • Fewer incidents involving violence from other residents due to behavioral programs.
  • Greater independence and social interaction through a uniquely designed community, a community dining room, and social and leisure programs.
  • Improved or maintained cognitive functioning in many patients.

Carlos Lopez is the director for Disabled Friends. He also handles the department of disability resources for MedicareFAQ, a learning resource center for all seniors and Medicare beneficiaries.