We don’t have all the answers at The Physio Co (TPC) but we know a thing or two about staying mobile and how it makes for a happier and longer life.
We met a woman called Helen a short while ago.
Helen had moved into a nursing home following a stroke and was close to giving up on life. Six months later, she was volunteering in the home and she caught a taxi to meet her family to watch Wizard of Oz at the theatre.
Whether at home or in aged care, these four keys can help to improve life of elderly people, day after day:
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1. Stay positive
Our TPC physio developed a great connection with Helen, which renewed her spark and determination to make life better.
If the mind is not in the game, then the body won’t come to the party. By regularly stimulating the brain with new exercises, communicating with other people and working towards goals, positive thinking can drive the body to remain healthy.
2. Stay fit
Over the six months that followed her stroke, Helen engaged with life. Her regular physio appointments were at the centre of this rejuvenation as they enabled her to get out of bed and walk around unsupported.
We worked on her strength, balance, coordination and aerobic capacity with regular exercise. Helen soon realised she had to keep moving to keep moving!
If nothing is done, then health and fitness can quickly deteriorate, so it is incredibly important to engage in sensible, fit-for-purpose exercise.
3. Stay social
Retaining that inner social butterfly creates movement opportunities, even if it is just from chair to wheelchair to chair – that counts as exercise!
If there is an opportunity to meet with friends (even the common room next door for a DVD), do it. It means movement, which means markedly better mobility, which means… merriment!
Keeping a busy social calendar (not too busy!) provides things to look forward to – even if it is just the 3pm physio appointment. In Helen’s case, it provided her family with an opportunity to see her outside of the nursing home – at the theatre.
Volunteering, as Helen did, throws somebody into a social situation, however small the job. If a health professional agrees it is a good idea, this is a great way to increase mobility for longer life.
4. Stay aware
Helen worked with our TPC physio three times a week to challenge herself, but she knew her limits. We love ‘fierce independence’ and always encourage that amazing spirit, but it is integral not to let an ego get in the way of making the right decision for all concerned.
It is so important to stay in touch with body and mind – just to check how everything is feeling and whether there is something a physio needs to address. Another fall because somebody is pushing too hard – or not doing enough – will lead to major setbacks for everybody.
And if a muscle is hurting or illness is coming, listen to the body, speak to a health professional and take their advice!