De-Conditioning in Elderly: – A way to Recovery

On 24 March 2020, the Government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown, limiting mostly movement of the entire 1.3 billion population of India as a preventive and protective measure against the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Older people, children below age 10 years and person with long-term conditions; have been strictly advised by the Government to protect themselves during the pandemic and not to go outside their homes for any reason. Strict Lockdown was continued for more than 3 months and started unlock from June.

It was very tough for everyone especially for an elderly person to stay at home over a night and not to go anywhere for social gathering, parks and temple etc. For many older people, spending more than 6 months at reduced levels of activity emerged an impact on multiple aspects of health like neurological events like stroke, respiratory and cardiac stamina, fine motor skills, a loss of muscle mass and strength, increase pain in joints and muscles, balance and fall, cognitive decline, emotional wellbeing and medical treatment in future. This was called “De-conditioning Syndrome” a side effect of social isolation, reduced physical activity and unable to go healthcare centre for pre-existing and new Non-Covid illness.

How to get back:-

  1. Physiotherapy

Physiotherapist trains person on their various physical aspect to improve their standing, walking and balance, power in the arms and legs, endurance, stamina and decrease fatigue.

Follow the exercise program that is recommended by physical therapist.

Do regular exercises: Regular exercise preserve lean muscle mass and Reduce deterioration of hormone levels which improve protein synthesis. Some common exercises which are helpful:-

  • Aerobic exercise: Waling within the home, stairs, jumping etc
  • Standing balance exercise: tai-chi, Standing with feet together and one leg with support, toe and heel standing with support etc.
  • Breathing exercise: slowly inhale from nose and exhale from mouth
  • Joints Movement: Move all the joints of body at least once in a day
  • Yoga and meditation to relax and remove negative thoughts from the mind
  • Training may be effective if carried out 2-3 times per week.

It is recommended to perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise for key muscle groups

2. Occupational Therapy

The Occupational therapist helps the elderly to be independent in daily living activities such as moving in the bed, transferring himself/herself from one place to another, dressing, eating, toileting, bathing, driving and community integration (education, employment etc.).

To start with, you may need to prioritise your daily tasks you want to achieve each day, schedule yourself and make an activity planner either on paper pad or mobile apps (available on iOS & Google play store).

Pace your activity throughout your day and take rest between tasks if you feel tired or low energy. Maintaining balance between being active and resting may take time, but building a daily routine can help you feel better. Feed or take fluid independently, wash your cloths heiself/herself, cleaning your room etc.

Healthy Diet

Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. This includes:

  • Proteins, such as cereals, paneer, lean meats and fish, to build muscles.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables to get vitamins and minerals
  • Carbohydrates, such as whole grains, jiggery etc to boost energy.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow, maintain blood consistency.

 

Healthy Sleep

A good night’s sleep help in improving concentration, memory storage and formation, vision enhancement, refreshes your immune system and allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, which in turn helps to maintain good health and prevent disease. It is recommended to take 7-9 hour of sound sleep.

Virtual engagement

Social engagements are critical to one’s wellbeing, memory, and mood.

  • Talk to your family and friends daily
  • Do video calling if facility available
  • Writing or Painting to explore your thoughts
  • Online sharing games
  • Social Plateforms like Facebook, Twitter etc.

Contact us if:

  • Have chest pain or short of breath.
  • Have any episodes of fainting.
  • Unable to do the recommended exercise program.
  • Becoming more tired and weak.

Author

Dr. Robins Kumar

Founder & Occupational Therapist

Robins Physiocare
Co-Founder, Dharma Foundation of India
+91-8586854043, robins.342@gmail.com

Robins Physiocare