Q. My 80-year-old mother has been in the hospital for 10 days and I am trying to figure out how to help her get her strength back. What do you suggest and how I can assist her further when she is home?
In a nutshell, help get your mother moving. A study has shown that hospitalized elderly patients who work to get back on their feet even by taking short walks around a hospital unit tend to leave the hospital sooner than their more sedentary peers.
The research, conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, draws on data collected from 162 hospitalized patients over age 65. Each patient was fitted with a pager-sized “step activity monitor” attached to his or her ankle – an electronic device capable of counting every step the patient took.
“Using these monitors, we were able to see a correlation between even relatively small amounts of increased mobility and shorter lengths of stay in the hospital,” said Steve Fisher, a UTMB Health assistant professor and lead author on the paper. “We still found this effect after we used a statistical model to adjust for the differing severities of the patients’ illnesses.”
Talk to your mother’s doctor or health care team about ways that you can get your mom up and around. Most hospitals are eager to help their patients recover and will assist them in daily walks. If you want to supplement that care by assisting your mother, she would undoubtedly welcome that encouragement. Or, if you are unavailable, consider hiring a caregiver companion who could help your mother in the hospital.
Such an individual not only could assist your mom in the hospital, but could also accompany her home to help keep her motivated to move as well as to lend a helping hand with household chores such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders.
Home Instead Senior Care CAREGiversSM are screened, trained, bonded and insured, and capable of assisting your mother with several activities of daily living until she regains her strength.
For more tips on how you can help your mother realize the important benefits of exercise, go to www.getmommoving.com.