Smoking Policies: What are the Regulations for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities?
As the last of the Baby Boomer generation begins to reach retirement age, assisted living facilities and nursing homes in Wisconsin are receiving new resident applications every month. More and more people need to live where they can enjoy their golden years and get some help with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, getting dressed, etc. But most importantly, they want to socialize, take part in activities, and live life with dignity.
However, the management of these living centers also has the right to set policies and procedures for the care and safety of their residents. One of the concerns of most nursing facilities regards smoking.
People have the right to smoke, don’t they? On the other hand, smoking is terrible for the health of not only the residents who smoke but to everyone around them who is breathing in their secondhand smoke!
Wisconsin’s Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Smoking Policies
Wisconsin State laws and regulations seem to change all the time, trying to balance the rights of those who smoke with the rights of non-smokers. Additionally, the safety and health of all the residents in nursing homes and assisted living centers are the healthcare workers’ responsibility and staff.
How do these facilities decide what to do about the rights of residents who smoke yet still care for everyone’s health? And how can YOU make the decision easier for them? One of the best ways to help everyone’s future is to quit smoking right now!
Reasons To Stop Smoking
Do you smoke cigars or cigarettes every day? Is your family begging you to quit? Do your children or grandchildren say that you, your breath, or your house smells bad because of the lingering smoke odor?
You already know that smoking is harmful to your health. You are aware that smoking affects your heart and lungs, and causes coronary heart disease (which is when your arteries narrow, leading to a heart attack, a stroke, or death). It can cause congestive heart failure (fluid around your heart, making it difficult to pump blood) and high blood pressure.
Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer, and others: i.e., cancer of the mouth, throat, stomach, larynx, kidney, bladder, and the pancreas.
If preventing one of those diseases hasn’t already convinced you to stop, smoking can also give you chronic diseases such as emphysema or bronchitis, and reproductive damage like impotence, abnormal sperm cells, and early menopause, as well as causing miscarriages and congenital disabilities.
Ready To Quit Smoking Yet? Wait – There’s More!
If you aren’t worried about the long-term health effects on your body, maybe you’re a bit vain regarding your looks. Here’s what happens to the outside of your body when you smoke:
- Your face becomes prematurely wrinkled and sallow. You will look older than you indeed are.
- Your fingernails, fingers, and teeth turn yellow.
- You can lose some teeth and develop gum disease.
- You may lose your sense of taste or smell.
- Your voice will get deeper and sound gravelly and raspy.
- Your ability to take a deep breath will diminish, limiting your physical activities.
- Your immune system will become weakened, which means you leave yourself susceptible to colds, flu, and other common illnesses.
Two More Reasons to Quit Smoking
If you don’t worry about your insides, and you don’t worry about your outsides, here are two more reasons why you may want to quit smoking sooner rather than later:
- Smoking is expensive! Cigarettes in Wisconsin are the 10th most expensive in the US. The average cost of a pack is $7.67. If you smoke just one pack per day, you’ll spend $233 every month – that’s nearly $2,800 every year. By the way, if you’re a cigar smoker, your expenses may be higher depending on the brand of cigar you enjoy!
- Your future! With all the health problems you may experience from smoking, as you age, you’ll likely need to live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. However, although Wisconsin State law currently gives residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities permission to smoke outdoors, they don’t have to accept you as a resident if you do! This means you or your family will have fewer choices of where you can live if you remain a smoker.
Do you really want to do that to the people you love? Or to yourself? Are you ready to quit yet? Keep reading, and you may finally be convinced.
Quality of Care Regulation in Facilities
Under the Quality of Care regulation (42 CFR 483.25), every facility and nursing home must provide, and each resident must receive the necessary services and care to allow residents to maintain their physical, mental, and psychosocial wellbeing.
The health facility must ensure that the environment remains free of hazards and foreseeable risks of harm. The staff and volunteers must take reasonable steps to ensure that a resident receives assistance devices (walkers, handrails, etc.) and constant supervision to keep them safe. The staff must anticipate and prevent accidents to the best of their ability.
Connected to these precautions and supervision is the Wisconsin Clean Indoor Air Act (Wis. stat. 101.123). This became effective in July 2010 and now prohibits smoking inside all nursing homes and in-patient healthcare facilities, including assisted living centers. However, smoking is not currently banned outdoors. This means if a current resident wants to smoke, they have the right to do so. A safe place must be provided to them.
Smoking Policies Under Facility Care
Unfortunately, injuries from smoking can occur even when a resident is adequately supervised. Injuries may happen with a disabled or physically impaired resident or when a non-disabled resident is lighting a cigarette and accidentally drops it or the lit match. Clothes may catch on fire, and the smoker or a bystander can get injured. Sometimes these accidents result in severe burns.
Because of the potential for these kinds of accidents, nursing homes and healthcare centers have various smoking policies to address safety concerns. Wisconsin state law allows nursing homes and assisted living centers two choices:
- The facility can allow smoking only outdoors in specific, designated areas.
- The facility can identify the entire campus as non-smoking and ban tobacco use altogether.
The new policies must be clearly explained to current staff and residents, to any new or potential residents, and staff both orally and in writing.
Once a location has determined that it will be a non-smoking facility, if a potential resident admits to being a smoker during the interview process, the facility can refuse them.
New residents must agree to abide by the non-smoking policy, and if they are caught smoking, the center may ask the resident to leave. If a potential resident doesn’t feel that they can follow these smoking regulations, the facility can suggest they find another place to live. Having an explicit smoking policy helps the nursing home settle or deter any situation that may come about.
Rules for Smoking in Facilities
As mentioned above, a healthcare facility has the right to ban smoking altogether. However, there are a few reasonable restrictions and limitations related to their current residents. For example: although new residents may be prohibited from smoking, the nursing home or assisted living center must allow a current resident to continue to smoke in a designated area outside the building. The current residents do not lose their right to smoke because of a change in policy and the need for someone to assist them.
However, the facility has the right to restrict residents’ smoking to certain times of the day, outdoor locations, type of assistance offered, frequency, what they’ll do in inclement weather, etc.
Especially if the smoking area is away from the building, the nursing home or living center must continue to keep the health and safety of the residents their first responsibility.
Designated Smoking Areas
For the residents’ safety and ease of staff assistance, designated outdoor smoking areas should be easily accessible and located near the facility building. This area also needs to protect other residents and staff from secondhand smoke as well. The healthcare facility is required to provide noncombustible ashtrays and garbage cans, and oxygen tanks must never be anywhere near the smoking area – even if the smoker is the one who needs the oxygen.
With all these regulations and guidelines, you can see why a nursing home or assisted living facility would instead make their location smoke-free!
How Facilities Revise Their Policies on Smoking
A healthcare facility that allows smoking can change their policy at any time to become a non-smoking facility. These changes must be announced to residents and staff verbally and through written and posted notifications. The federal government regulation – 483.10(g)16 – states that the nursing home or care facility must receive written confirmation from each resident, their legal representative, or a family member, acknowledging their receipt of the new rules and what changes will occur regarding residents who smoke. These facilities will also often notify the residents’ families, the community, visitors, and sources of referrals regarding their smoking policy change.
The Rights of Current Residents
Guidance from Wis. Admin Code 42 CFR 483.10(f)2 states that when/if a healthcare facility or nursing home decides to change its smoking policy to prohibit smoking by staff or residents, it still needs to allow their current residents to smoke. The facility must also offer a location that maintains the quality of life for its residents who smoke.
However, residents admitted after the policy change date are restricted from smoking and must follow the new policy. Current residents are considered “grandfathered in” and can continue to smoke – albeit outdoors – because they moved into the location when smoking was allowed. This means that any assisted living facility or nursing home which currently has residents who smoke must continue providing an outdoor area for them to do so in safety and comfort – even after they become a non-smoking facility.
Help to Quit Smoking
For residents who wish to quit smoking, the healthcare facility is responsible for helping them. The assistance must include medically-related social services to maintain the wellbeing of every resident. The benefits available through Medicaid are over the counter nicotine chewing gum and patches, as well as other prescribed medications, group classes, and therapy.
Assisted living facilities and nursing homes are responsible for meeting the emotional and physical needs of all their residents. (Guidance for 42 CFR 483.40(d).) They must also accommodate each person’s choices and desires for how they want to spend their day, whether inside or outside of the building.
Villa St Francis
Villa St. Francis is a smoke-free assisted living facility. At Villa St Francis, our community is built on a foundation of caring and dignity. We respect every person’s fundamental dignity, where all feel welcome, supported, and cared for. We offer a wide variety of activities to provide educational, social, and physical opportunities to enhance our residents’ lives. We want our residents to be as happy and healthy as possible and work to help everyone become smoke-free.
Today, make a promise to yourself to quit smoking. Your family, friends, wallet, and your healthy future will thank you for it!
Are you interested in learning more about Villa St. Francis? Give us a call, and we’re happy to give you a tour and answer all your questions.
You have loved ones who are growing older. They may be your parents, grandparents, special friends, or other close relatives. Over the past few months or years, you’ve noticed a concerning pattern: they seem to need more and more help around the house. You’re worried they aren’t eating well that they forget to take necessary medication, and you occasionally notice bruises that they can’t explain. Are they falling? Bumping into furniture? What happens when or if they get seriously hurt?
You can’t be with your elderly relatives every minute of every day, but you’re not sure they’re ready for an assisted living community. Is there something “in-between” where they can live? A place where they will stay safe and yet still have some independence and freedom? Unfortunately, living with you is not an option. So, what will you do in case of an accident?
The First Emergency
You’ve just gotten a phone call in the wee hours of the morning with the news that your elderly loved one has taken a bad fall. You jump into your car and drive like a rocket to the hospital. An ambulance brought them to the nearest emergency room, and you get there as fast as you can.
You stand by and watch the unfolding drama of doctors and nurses working on your relative. As you wait for news, it starts to sink in that severe crises like this can and will happen. So how can you help your senior loved one prepare for, recover from, or, more importantly, avoid an accident like this? You can’t predict when an emergency may happen. Still, you know you should be proactive and sit down with your extended family to put together a plan for the near future.
Word comes back from the emergency room doctor that your senior loved one has broken a hip – meaning days of hospitalization and months of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, breaking a hip is a widespread orthopedic injury suffered by those aged 65 and over and can sometimes lead to additional and severe conditions.
These additional complications associated with a broken hip can be life-threatening. Some damaged or fractured hips will need surgery, and the recovery time may be different depending upon the person’s underlying level of health and age. Allowing a hip fracture to heal naturally means staying in bed for 2 to 3 months. Most doctors feel it’s too dangerous for elderly patients to be immobile for that length of time. Serious complications such as pneumonia, depression, muscle atrophy, and slower healing may occur. Blood thinners may be prescribed as well to reduce potential pulmonary embolism or stroke.
Depending on the type of break, there are several ways to repair a broken hip. This can include everything from adding metal screws to keep the bones in place to a partial or total hip replacement. Your loved one’s doctor will determine the best course of action.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
Your elderly loved ones stay at the hospital will most likely last up to a week post-surgery. Recovery time for hip surgery vastly differs between patients. Some people may begin to regain mobility after just a few weeks, while others can take six months to start feeling better. From the hospital, the patient will need to move to a care facility for rehab. However, some people can go home and have either in-home rehabilitation and/or go back and forth to a facility every day or week for their therapy.
But if your senior family member was having trouble caring for themselves before the accident, how will they manage at home with a broken hip? It’s more than likely that the doctor will insist on sending your loved one to a rehab facility where they can stay for the next few months or as long as necessary.
Recent research has shown that patients who take part in a rehab program for a minimum of six months after surgery are more likely to fully recover without having a permanent disability than those who only have physical therapy for a short time. At the rehabilitation facility, your loved one will re-learn how to manage daily activities. These can include cooking light meals while seated, bathing while on a bath stool, how to use a walker, crutches, strengthening their muscles for more stable walking, etc. Frankly, for some senior citizens, it may take up to a year for a full recovery.
Tips for a Faster Recovery
One of the best ways to help with your loved one’s recovery is to get them out of bed and moving. Help them walk across the hospital room to sit in a chair or up and down the hallway. This will limit complications and get the blood and other body fluids circulating. A physical therapist can show you a few easy exercises as well.
Older adults generally need more extensive assistance with personal care, taking medicines, physical therapy, etc., for a more extended period of recovery. You can also shorten your loved one’s recovery time by doing some exercises together every time you visit. Even taking a short walk can make a huge difference. Physical activity provides benefits such as improved mobility, increased muscle strength, better balance, and better joint function.
Other than exercising, here are a few more ideas to help your elderly loved one to recover more quickly:
- Help them get in and out of chairs. Don’t yank them up but allow them to use you for balance.
- Find out what medications they take and when each is taken. If any of the meds make your loved one feel dizzy, talk to the doctor. Find out if they can take it right before bedtime instead.
- Alcohol and tobacco reduce bone density. They are much more likely to cause fractures and slow down healing, even after a minor incident. If your loved one smokes or drinks alcohol, help them to stop.
- On the other hand, don’t let your elderly loved one push themselves too hard. Their body needs time to rest. It’s okay to take a nap in the afternoon!
Once your elderly relative is ready to leave the rehab facility, what’s the next step? Are you afraid that they might hurt themselves again? Are you concerned that they won’t take care of themselves or resort to sitting on the couch watching television all day? The last thing you want is for them to get hurt again and have repeated trips to the emergency room.
Planning Ahead – Crisis Prevention
Hopefully, your family has taken the time to discuss a plan with your elderly loved ones long before a crisis happened. If not, now is the time! Too often, a difficult conversation is put off, and the family begins to experience anxiety or guilt at the mere thought of putting their elders in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. A family member may feel that it is their responsibility to take care of the aged relative in their own home. Someone in the family may have even made a vow that the elderly loved one would never be sent to live in a nursing home or assisted care facility. Another family member may believe that he or she is the only one who can/should care for the senior loved one.
However, too many times, family members cannot help to care for their aging loved ones. They don’t visit very often because of work responsibilities or where they live. That means everything ends up falling to one person to do everything. This often creates resentment, anger, and frustration among family members.
By talking things out and creating a plan, the entire family, including the elderly loved ones, can take time to express their feelings, tour various locations, and feel good about the choices made. The goal is not to have just one brief talk and then suddenly move your aging loved one to a new facility. Instead, keep the lines of communication open to stimulate a respectful and effective way to address concerns and have as many conversations as necessary to come to an agreement.
When an Assisted Living Facility May Be Necessary
To prevent resident ER visits, it may be better for your elderly loved one to live in an assisted care facility. Professional care workers have the knowledge and understanding as to what the residents need to thrive and stay safe.
Sometimes there are abrupt changes in health or safety conditions when it’s clear that a senior relative must move immediately. The family may have very little time to make decisions in these situations. These can include:
• Onset of dementia
• Death of a spouse or caregiver
• Injury leading to hospitalization
• Severe, sudden illness
How does a family know when the move to an assisted care facility is necessary, other than the above situations? There are several signs to recognize:
• Family members have tried other resources to keep a loved one in their own residence. Still, adequate assistance is not being provided.
• You realize that an assisted living facility is healthier and more beneficial than hiring someone to help with your elderly relative’s care needs.
• A doctor has recommended that it’s time for an assisted living placement.
• Your elderly loved one has healthcare needs that they can’t manage well, even with your assistance.
• Important relationships are suffering significantly.
• Your aging family member has made repeated trips to the emergency room.
• Your own physical and/or emotional health is declining because you are concerned about the aging relative and the amount of time you need to give them.
It may be time to go forward with a loved one’s move to an assisted living facility if any of these signs sound familiar. By talking with others in your community who can make a recommendation, your family can find the perfect place for your loved one. Research several sites and make an appointment to visit. Ask questions and get a feel for each location.
An Assisted Living Facility Can Prevent Accidents
Assisted living facilities are perfect for senior citizens who are somewhat independent and active but who want to connect with others around the same age – people with whom they share common interests, experiences, and memories. These residents aren’t able to do home maintenance tasks such as yard work, cleaning, cooking, or laundry and they often aren’t safe to be living alone. Companionship and organized activities fill their days. Residents living in this kind of facility have private apartments with their own bathrooms. However, there is also staff available to assist residents with simple jobs, taking medication, and daily personal tasks like bathing, dressing, etc.
An assisted living facility can be the ideal solution for an aging relative for many families. The entire family can enjoy peace of mind once their elderly loved one is living where they can be independent, enjoy themselves, and be safely looked after. The need for family members to be hyper-alert, daily caregivers is finally abated. Additionally, families know their loved one’s health and safety needs, independence, freedom, privacy, dignity, and socialization needs will be taken care of.
By offering arts and crafts, social hours, entertainment, exercise classes, and more, elderly residents stay motivated, connected, interested in life, and safe. Staff is available to be sure every resident takes their medication on time, keep tabs on everyone, help with daily tasks, and assist those who may not be steady on their feet.
A Final Word from Villa St. Francis
It can be very stressful when thinking about or discussing care options for your loved one. If it feels as if you or others in the family are drowning with the responsibility and the burden of being the caregiver, it is time to have a conversation with the entire family. Acknowledge that you love your elderly relative, but it’s getting to be more than you can handle.
Frankly, it is more dangerous for your aging parent to be home and potentially have an accident than to move to an assisted living facility. By making a solid plan, everyone can still be there for their loved ones and provide the emotional support they need.
Looking for the best community for an elderly loved one can be difficult, so start with Villa St. Francis.
Villa St. Francis is located near St. Francis Hospital on the south side of Milwaukee. Our facility offers a caring, home-like atmosphere for those who need some help with the activities of daily living or for independent seniors looking for a minimal level of assistance. Villa St. Francis can help them live life to the fullest. To learn more about Villa St Francis, give us a call at 414-649-2888 or contact us here!
Meet Sylvia, Janice, Harold, and Carl. They connect every afternoon to take a brisk walk, then play some shuffleboard, ping pong, or a game of cards. They laugh, talk, tease, and sometimes even sing a few of their favorite songs! They look forward to every day and can’t wait to tell the latest joke or funny story about a grandchild. For them, getting together is a great way to exercise for seniors.
Then, there’s Edward, Julia, and Dorothy. Every morning, Edward and Julia get out of bed and feel stiff, achy, and slow. It takes about 30 minutes to “loosen up” their joints. Dorothy gets winded whenever she washes her hair. Just holding her arms up to shampoo wears her out. None of these three are particularly active and prefer to sit and watch television. Frankly, most of the time, they feel lousy and tired.
Exercise Plan for Seniors Makes All the Difference
What’s the difference between these two groups? Exercise! Staying physically and mentally active has endless benefits, even for those seniors in their eighties and nineties. It helps with pain reduction and can also help people ease off some of their medications. Exercise assists with balance, fall reduction and can help combat depression. It can ward off diseases like dementia, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health issues. Even doing a handful of simple exercises a few times every week can improve your life. Fortunately, no matter your age, it’s never too late to start an exercise program. Especially if you choose something fun to do with a group of people, it won’t feel like exercise at all!
There are Many Safe Exercises for Seniors
Why wouldn’t you want to exercise? Unfortunately, some seniors think that exercise isn’t safe for them and so they are afraid to try. They worry about overtaxing themselves or breaking a bone if they fall.
Yes, getting injured is a possibility, but by taking a few precautions, the potential for injury is much less likely. Additionally, by exercising regularly, your muscles will get stronger, your balance will get better, and the likelihood of a pulled muscle or twisted ankle is reduced even more.
The key to exercising without injury is to be careful and be aware of any physical limitations that might impact the selection of what exercises you do.
Talk to Your Physician First
Before starting any exercise program, talk with your doctor and get a complete physical. Discuss what your short- and long-term goals are, what physical restrictions you might have, specific information regarding your ability to exercise safely, and what you should – and should not – do to remain injury-free.
Your doctor may connect you with a physical therapist or trainer to help you put together an easy and fun exercise routine. Inform this professional of any medical conditions or physical restrictions you have for them to serve you better. After a physical assessment with your trainer, you’ll begin with a low-intensity workout program designed for your specific needs, then progress to a higher intensity program very gradually over the coming months.
Whenever you start a new exercise program, be very careful, because chronic health conditions can make activities more difficult. Especially in the beginning, avoid high-intensity exercises or those involving lots of repetitions. These may aggravate joints. If you have arthritis, only repeat a motion up to 10 times. Additionally, multiple session formats (a few short sessions per day, rather than one long session) or a circuit program is best if you have osteoarthritis.
How Often Should You Exercise?
With your mental and physical health in mind, exercise routines should be done according to your doctor’s plans. Most programs recommend working out with 30 to 45 minutes of movement at least three days a week. For senior adults, include rest days where you refrain from any exercise, yet continue to stay active most days. For example, on day one, do an hour of stretching, the next day just rest, the third day do some light weightlifting, then on day four take a leisurely walk, and so forth. Rest days allow your muscles to heal themselves for improved ability over time. Some programs may require multiple rest days, so let yourself do the exercises slowly and take breaks whenever you need it.
Make Exercise A Habit
To make any permanent changes to your health and muscle strength, it’s essential to do some type of physical activity every week. Since these weekly exercises are crucial, choose a physical task or two that you enjoy doing (dancing, walking, yoga, swimming, etc.) and stick to a routine. Doing this exercise with a group of friends is even better! You can all encourage each other and make the time more enjoyable.
According to several studies, it generally takes at least three weeks for something to become a habit. The best way to create one is to think of the Nike slogan: Just Do It! You may have to force yourself to exercise for a few weeks until your brain makes these activities an automatic behavior. But soon, your body will begin to enjoy the movement, and you might even start to look forward to it!
Although some people might be able to force themselves into a new habit despite not wanting to exercise, other people may prefer to use rewards, distractions, or encouragement to get into the routine. Of course, one of the best ways of guaranteeing a habit will stick is to find a neighbor, friend, or family member to exercise with you. Or make a deal with your exercise partner that you’ll get a special treat, go shopping, or buy some flowers after working out.
Exercise With Things In Your Own Home
If you have the opportunity and the space to exercise in your own home or room, it can make it easier to get into the habit of working out more frequently. Your own place is more convenient than having to go to the gym.
Here are a few everyday objects that you can turn into equipment to help you exercise. For example:
Walls: Standing about two feet away, place your palms against the wall, lean forward, and do ten standing pushups. For stretches, use a doorway as a brace. Hold on to the door jam and lean forward, then back. Another good move is to lean against the wall and, while keeping your back against it, “walk” out a step or two. Roll your shoulders back and try to touch them to the wall. This is a perfect exercise to strengthen shoulder muscles and improve your posture. Ask your physical therapist what other fitness activities you can do.
Groceries: Yes – groceries! By holding a can of soup in each hand (or any other canned good), the weight will offer some resistance. Begin with arms at your sides, palms up (and the can in your hand). Then bend arms at the elbow until your hand touches your shoulder. Move one arm at a time.
Another good exercise – while sitting in a chair, hold a can between your feet and extend your legs. This works not only your inner thigh muscles but your stomach area too (also known as your core). As these exercises get more manageable, find heavier groceries to use!
Chairs: A hardbacked wooden chair will give older adults with poor balance or limited mobility the capability to exercise. Sitting on a chair will take the pressure off certain parts of the body and isolate other parts. This will give you the freedom to strengthen and exercise one area of your body at a time. Sitting down will let you move your arms and upper body first, then work on your legs. Holding the back of the chair while doing standing exercises will offer better balance and safety. Many workouts use nothing more than a sturdy chair and your body weight.
Stairs: A flight of stairs or even just two or three steps are perfect for exercising your cardiovascular system. Stepping up and down is an ideal way to improve blood flow, increase your heart rate, and work your hips and legs. Instead of working out on an elliptical machine (which was invented to reproduce the action of climbing stairs), stay with what you have. Just remember to hold onto the handrails!
Swimming Pool: If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with a swimming pool, you can safely work your joints and muscles while floating in the water. Swimming can take the strain off joints while strengthening muscles and raising your heart rate. Perfect for cardiovascular activity, too!
No Equipment: There are many functional strengthening and stretching exercises that can be done with no equipment at all. By using your body weight, simple sit-ups, leg lifts, arm extensions, pushups, etc., can offer as much – if not more – benefit than using machines in a gym. Frankly, one of the best things you can do for yourself using no equipment is to take a walk.
Bottom line – don’t worry about what kind of equipment you have. The secret to a healthier and stronger body is consistency and the right level of intensity in your weekly exercise routine.
Every time you exercise, you must remember to breathe normally throughout the workout. Be sure to use proper form and control; if necessary, ask for professional guidance and a demonstration of the movement.
Exercise vs. Physical Activity
Any movement that requires the energy of the skeletal muscles to perform is considered physical activity. It can include workouts, but also general body movements that happen with daily routines. Physical tasks such as walking, getting out of bed, brushing your teeth or your hair, changing a light bulb, and even playing cards or bingo, can offer some of the same benefits as exercise. You are stretching, moving muscles, and using your balance to do these activities every day, although it is less strenuous than regular exercise.
On the other hand, exercise is a physical activity that has the aim of maintaining or improving physical fitness and is most often repetitive and structured. People exercise to strengthen one of the five aspects of physical fitness: Cardio-respiratory fitness, body composition, endurance, flexibility, and muscular strength. Most senior citizens tend to live a less active lifestyle as they get older and lose these abilities as they age. Exercise is the only way to regain what they have lost.
Both physical activity and exercise can build health. Frankly, many seniors who live a consistently active lifestyle can often maintain their physical fitness just through action and movement. However, some of those seniors may still need to do individualized exercise routines to address issues such as arthritis or heart disease. In another example, a senior who recently had hip replacement surgery will still need physical therapy to build flexibility and strength, no matter how active their lifestyle is or in how excellent physical shape they are.
Recent research recommends that, for a truly healthy life, seniors should engage in both physical activity and exercise. Lazy lifestyles are the reason that even daily exercise routines are not as effective as they can be. A senior citizen will have trouble staying fit if they exercise intensely for an hour but then sit down for the rest of the day.
Ways to Help Yourself Get Fit
It’s essential to exercise regularly and to also engage in physical activity throughout the day. Stand when you talk on the phone. Whenever possible, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Join a choir for deep breathing exercises (plus, it’s fun!). Take a walk with your neighbor. Turn on the radio and dance to the next three songs. You can turn almost any activity into exercise if you do it often enough and intensely enough.
Here are a few more suggestions:
- Add weights while you walk: Many weights are small and easy to carry in your hands. Or hold a bottle of water in each hand as you walk. Swing your arms with each step.
- Turn a daily activity into an exercise: Do you enjoy being outdoors? Tai Chi classes, for instance, are usually held outside. Or try your hand at gardening or yoga.
- Watch less television – or do some leg lifts and stretches during the commercials. Get up from your chair and walk around the room for the duration of the breaks.
Track Your Progress
As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to start slowly and follow the exercise routine recommended by your physical therapist or doctor. Don’t push yourself too quickly! Light stretching, pedaling a recumbent bike, walking on a treadmill, and easy strength-training exercises with light weights are the safest exercises for seniors to begin with.
So, how can you tell if you’re making progress? While there are many ways to measure the benefits of an exercise routine, what you track depends on the type of results you’re expecting. For example, a muscle-strengthening program is measured differently than a weight loss program.
Here are common ways to track progress:
Muscular strength: These programs measure success by the fortification of nerves and muscles that are used to lift objects. While building muscle strength, keep track of the number of repetitions you can do, or the total weight lifted during each exercise.
Cardiovascular health: Have your blood pressure measured regularly. A low pulse rate preserves cardiac function and arteries and signifies that the heart is not having to work too hard to pump the blood. Having an appropriate body mass index (BMI) ensures that you are better able to fight off disease and are not overweight. A low BMI also helps to guarantee that joints are not overloaded by carrying extra weight. You are also less likely to have diabetes and other ailments.
Ease of daily routine: How effortless is it for you to live your everyday life? Can you put your groceries away? Are you able to get dressed or comb your hair without assistance? Many people are only looking to perform day-to-day tasks without help. A few simple exercises a few times a week can help you reach your goal.
You can thank your new exercise routine if you are having fewer physical challenges, and your days are getting easier. So, get out there and have some fun while you exercise!
About Villa St. Francis
Villa St Francis is an assisted living community in Milwaukee with a mission to continue the ministry of Jesus by providing person-centered services to meet the contemporary needs of aging individuals and their families.