Are you searching for easy exercises for the bedridden elderly? As we age, our bodies become more susceptible to various health conditions, leading to decreased mobility and prolonged bed rest. Staying bedridden for an extended period can cause several health issues; therefore, elderly individuals should engage in light physical activities to maintain their health.
This article will discuss some easy exercises for bedridden elderly individuals. But before that, let’s discuss the common health issues older adults face being bedridden and the safety precautions you need to take before starting an exercise routine.
Health Issues in Bedridden Adults
Muscle weakness and atrophy: Prolonged bed rest can lead to muscle weakness and atrophy, making it more difficult for bedridden older adults to perform activities.
Bedsores: Bedridden adults are at a higher risk of developing pressure sores, which are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue that occurs when pressure is applied to the same area of the body for too long.
Blood clots: Being bedridden for an extended period can increase the risk of blood clots forming in the legs, which can be dangerous if they travel to the lungs.
Contractures: Contractures are when the muscles and tendons become tight and stiff due to lack of movement.
Here are some general safety precautions to take before starting bedridden elderly individuals on exercises:
- Conduct a health assessment: Before starting an exercise program, it’s essential to assess the individual’s overall health, medical history, and current medications.
- Use proper equipment: If equipment is needed, such as resistance bands or weights, ensure it is appropriate for the individual and is used properly.
- Start slowly and gradually increase intensity: It’s essential to start with easy exercises and progressively increase the intensity and duration of the workouts as the individual becomes more comfortable.
- Consider the environment: Make sure the environment is safe and free from hazards, such as loose rugs or furniture that could cause a fall.
If you cannot provide the necessary care at home, admitting your loved one to a nursing home can be an option. However, remember that even in a nursing home setting, older adults can develop issues like muscle weakness and joint stiffness, or in the worst cases, bedsores.
Bedsores can progress to stage 4, which involves full-thickness skin loss and exposure to muscle, bone, or supporting structures. So, it’s essential to regularly monitor your loved one for signs of Bedsores Stage 4, as it may indicate nursing home abuse or neglect. And any suspected cases of nursing home abuse or neglect should be reported to the appropriate authorities. It can involve filing a lawsuit to recover damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Exercises to Stay Fit and Active
So these are a few precautionary tips; now, let’s dive in and explore how these easy exercises can help seniors stay fit and active.
1) Ankle pumps
This exercise involves gently pumping the ankles up and down, which helps promote blood flow and prevent muscle stiffness and joint pain in the lower legs. This gentle pumping motion helps to engage the calf muscles and encourages the blood to circulate back up to the heart.
In addition to improving circulation and preventing blood clots, ankle pumps can also help reduce swelling in the feet and ankles, a common issue for bedridden seniors.
2) Leg Lifts
Leg lifts are an excellent exercise for strengthening the leg muscles and improving mobility.
To perform this exercise, the older adult should lie on their back with legs straight and lift one leg towards the ceiling. Hold the position briefly before lowering the leg to the bed. Repeat the same exercise with your other leg.
3) Arm Raises
Arm raises are an excellent exercise for seniors to strengthen their upper body muscles, including the arms and shoulders. This simple exercise involves lifting the arms towards the ceiling while lying down, holding them for a few seconds, and then lowering them back down to the bed. Seniors can add light weights or resistance bands to the exercise to increase the intensity.
Arm raises can help seniors improve their posture and prevent muscle weakness.
4) Shoulder Rolls
If your elderly loved ones feel stiff and sore in their shoulders, they may benefit from incorporating shoulder rolls into their daily routine. Shoulder rolls can be performed by rolling shoulders forward and then backward in a circular motion, gradually increasing the size of the circle with each repetition.
Regularly performing shoulder rolls can also help prevent muscle tension and pain, which is particularly important for bedridden elderly. This exercise is a gentle, low-impact way to keep the upper body mobile and prevent stiffness.
5) Abdominal Contractions
To perform this exercise, seniors should lie on their backs, bend their knees, and place their feet flat on the bed. Then, they can contract their abdominal muscles by pulling their belly button towards their spine and holding it for some seconds before releasing it.
This exercise is not only beneficial for improving core strength, but it can also help improve posture, reduce back pain, and even aid in digestion.
By improving core strength and posture, seniors can feel more comfortable and mobile, which is crucial for maintaining their physical and mental well-being.
6) Neck Stretches
Neck stretches are an excellent exercise for bedridden older adults to improve their range of motion and reduce muscle tension. Bedridden older adults may risk developing neck stiffness and pain due to prolonged periods of lying in one position. Neck stretches can help reduce discomfort and improve blood flow to the neck muscles.
Some safe and effective neck stretches for bedridden older adults include chin tucks, neck rotations, and neck side bend. These stretches can be done while lying on the back and performed multiple times daily for best results.
It’s important to note that moving slowly and gently is essential when performing neck stretches. Please do not force the neck to move beyond its range of motion, and avoid any movements that cause pain or discomfort.
7) Heel Slides
Heel slides are a gentle exercise that can help improve mobility and prevent muscle stiffness for bedridden older adults. This exercise can be done while lying on the back and involves sliding one heel towards the buttocks, with the other leg in a straight position. Heel slides can help improve hip and knee flexibility and can be particularly beneficial for bedridden older adults who may spend extended periods lying in one place.
To perform heel slides:
- Lie down on your back with your legs extended and your arms at your sides.
- Slide one heel towards your buttocks, keeping your knee bent and your foot flat on the bed.
- Hold briefly, then slowly slide your foot back to the starting position.
8) Hand Squeezes
Seniors can perform hand squeezes by grabbing a softball or rolled-up towel and squeezing it tightly in their hands for a few seconds before releasing it. This exercise is perfect for improving grip strength and preventing hand weakness, which can be especially important for seniors who may have trouble with everyday tasks like opening jars or holding objects.
Hand squeezes can also help increase blood flow to the hands and improve hand-eye coordination. Plus, they’re a great way to relieve stress and tension in the hands, which can build up over time.
Moreover, the exercise is easy and can be done multiple times daily. Seniors can do them while watching TV, sitting in bed, or waiting for their morning coffee to brew. It’s a simple exercise that can make a big difference in maintaining hand strength and helping seniors stay active and independent for longer.
9) Pelvic Tilts
Pelvic tilts are a gentle exercise that can help seniors maintain flexibility in their lower back and pelvic area. To perform this exercise, seniors can lie on their backs, bend their knees, and put their feet on the bed. Then, they can tilt their pelvis towards their belly button and hold the position for a few seconds before releasing.
Pelvic tilts can also help with balance and stability, which is crucial for preventing falls in seniors.
10) Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can help the bedridden elderly feel energized, relaxed, and focused, providing numerous physical and mental benefits.
One breathing exercise that’s perfect for bedridden seniors is belly breathing. With one hand on their belly and one on their chest, they can feel the deep inhales and exhales, breathing away stress and anxiety. Another great option is pursed-lip breathing, where seniors breathe in through their nose and exhale through pursed lips as if they’re blowing out a candle.
The best part about breathing exercises is that they can be done anytime, anywhere, and alone or with the assistance of a caregiver.
Conclusion on 10 Easy Exercises For the Bedridden Elderly
Maintaining physical activity while bedridden is crucial for older adults to stay healthy and avoid various health complications. The exercises mentioned above are easy to perform and can be done from the comfort of their beds. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine to ensure it is safe for the individual’s health conditions.