As your loved one’s age, seeing to it that they maintain a good quality of life becomes more and more a priority. Aside from being understanding of their needs, it’s also helpful to implement effective home care strategies.
One such strategy revolves around range of motion exercises. These exercises are not only beneficial for seniors but can be helpful for those recovering from injuries or surgeries.
Overview of range of motion exercises
Range of motion exercises refer to the activities that help in keeping the joints functioning normally. Every joint in the body has a certain amount of flexibility and movement. With age, or due to specific medical conditions, this flexibility can decrease.
For seniors, range of motion exercises focuses on maintaining or improving this flexibility.
These exercises can help alleviate pain, improve mobility and reduce stiffness. When regularly practiced, they can assist in carrying out daily activities smoothly, such as reaching for objects, bending down or even walking.
Types of range of motion exercises
There are several types of range of motion exercises that can be classified primarily into passive and active.
1. Passive range of motion exercises
Passive range of motion exercises are performed with the help of another person or with the assistance of equipment. The person undergoing the exercise doesn’t actively participate in the movement. Instead, an assistant or therapist moves the limb or joint. This type of exercise is particularly beneficial for those who have limited or no muscle strength.
- Prevention of stiffness
- Maintenance of joint flexibility
- Improved circulation to the affected area
2. Active-assisted range of motion exercises
Active-assisted exercises are a blend of passive and active movements. It bridges the gap between passive and fully active exercises, providing a gradual transition and strengthening muscles in the process.
In this, the person exercises with some assistance. It’s especially useful when someone can initiate movement but cannot complete it due to pain or weakness.
When and how to do range-of-motion exercises
Range of motion exercises for the elderly should ideally be a part of their daily routine. The best time would be when the individual is most relaxed, possibly after a warm bath or nap, as the muscles and joints would be most supple then.
Here’s a basic guide:
- Start slow. Especially if new to these exercises, begin with gentle movements to avoid injury.
- Focus on all major joints. Include exercises for the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles.
- Be consistent. Like any other physical activity, consistency is a vital factor to reap its benefits. It’s better to do a little every day than to overexert once a week.
- Always consult with a healthcare professional or therapist before starting any exercise regimen.
Physical therapy and stretching assistance
Physical therapy is often a recommended approach for seniors facing mobility issues. A physical therapist is trained to understand the intricacies of human anatomy and can guide through a series of exercises tailored to individual needs.
In addition to range of motion exercises, therapists can introduce stretching routines that can help in improving the following:
- Blood flow
For seniors who have had surgeries or injuries, physical therapy can be a game-changer in helping them recover faster and more efficiently.
How physical therapy effectively improves range of motion
Physical therapy isn’t just about doing a set of exercises. It’s a comprehensive approach that includes:
- Goal setting
- Plan execution
Here’s how it can be beneficial:
- Science-backed customized plans. Therapists create routines based on individual needs. This personal touch ensures that the exercises are as effective as possible.
- Progress monitoring. Regular sessions with therapists mean that progress, or the lack of it, can be monitored. Exercise can also be tweaked based on how someone is doing.
- Access to equipment and tools. From resistance bands to specialized machines, there are different tools and equipment used to maximize the benefits of physical therapy. They can be especially beneficial in both passive and active range of motion exercises.
- Being e Therapists not only guide through exercises but also educate on the importance of each movement and how it benefits the body.
- Pain Management. Often, the reluctance to move stems from pain. Physical therapists are trained to understand this pain and offer solutions, be it through exercises or other therapies.
Range of motion exercises, whether passive or active, are an invaluable part of home care for seniors. They allow your loved ones to maintain flexibility and mobility, both of which are essential aspects of a good quality of life.
With the right guidance from professionals and consistent practice, these exercises can make a world of difference in the daily lives of the elderly.
Check out RT Medical’s comprehensive list of services to help your elderly loved ones improve their quality of life today.