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The Home Care Advantage: Preventing Immobility

Causes of Immobility

Mobility, also referred to as physical performance steadily declines in older adults, for many reasons.

Physical performance, or staying mobile, depends on factors including strength, balance, and endurance as key components of physical function, mobility, and independence. Impaired physical performance can be associated with significant personal, societal, and economic costs. Furthermore, understanding the relationship between social isolation, loneliness, and physical performance in older adults has become acutely important to increasing the quality of life in the elderly living in Canada.1 the home care advantage

Domestic isolation and social disengagement have been long associated with poorer physical performance. Higher levels of loneliness were also directly associated with lower physical performance. Components of isolation and loneliness are independently associated with poorer physical performance in older adults, including worse sit-to-stand ability, balance, and slower walking speed. This means that seniors who live in social isolation or are disengaged from society are more likely to become immobile.

Immobility is a detriment to good health and also a precursor for slips and falls, which can compound immobility. 1

Existing research also suggests a relationship between low socio-economic status, a higher chance of becoming immobile, and the risk of falling. A number of explanations for these findings have been proposed, including the association of low socio-economic status with a poorer quality environment, poor diet or malnutrition, and barriers to accessing health care services. 2

Dangers of Immobility

The danger of immobility in older adults is the decrease in muscle strength and the capability to move freely. Rigid body movements or lack of flexibility can also lead to increased chances of slips and falls. The home care advantage

“Decreases in muscle strength and endurance can leave one unable to prevent a slip, trip or stumble from becoming a fall.”2

Preventing Slips and falls which can cause substantial injury, is done by sustaining mobility and maintaining flexibility. Sustaining mobility and maintaining flexibility can be attributed to increased social interactions while decreasing isolation and social disengagement. Increased social interactions also have a positive effect on the diet and appetite of an elderly person. Medical research also suggests establishing a good diet can aid in the prevention of slips and falls. the home care advantage

“The relationship between diet and falls has long been suspected but only recently has been studied. It is reasonable to expect that dehydration and/or malnutrition from poor diets and inadequate fluid could lead to physical weakness, fatigue, and frailty. Recent research found that malnourished older adults who presented to the emergency department were more likely to report falling within the previous six months.” 2

Benefits of Social Interactions

Research shows an indirect relationship between social networks and falls through poor health, isolation, depression, and disabilities, there is growing evidence for direct links between social factors and fall risk. The direct link between social factors and fall risks points to the greatest possibility of immobility and lack of physical performance. With a lack of social interactions among the elderly, malnutrition may arise, and with malnutrition comes a reduction in physical performance causing immobility. Immobility in the malnourished and socially isolated then appears to drastically increase the risk of slips and falls when an individual is required to move. Increases in slips and falls, not only cause injury but also fear and apprehension from future physical performance.

“A fear of falling may lead to a decrease in physical activity, which in turn leads to muscle weakness and poor balance, and poorer self-reported health. Among older Canadians who reported a fear of falling in the future, 44% limited their activities on the basis of that concern. It is important to note that fear of falling can result from falls that are not injurious”

Preventing falls and fear of falling, starts with good physical and mental health. Good physical and mental health are most often attained from maintaining social contacts, interactions, relationships, and ongoing attention from others. Research also indicates that preventing social isolation also appears to have a large part in preventing malnutrition. While increasing nourishment directly increases the likelihood of physical performance. Increased physical performance reduces the risk of slips and falls. Home Care services offer a unique opportunity to support our elderly community through social interactions, meal preparation, grocery shopping, mobility support, and a wide array of other activities designed to optimize every senior’s quality of life. the home care advantage

The Arcavia Home Care Advantage

Arcavia Home Care works with all types of organizations that serve and cater to our elderly population. This includes hospitals, rehabilitation centers, local clinics, pharmacies, geriatric centers, and a host of other companies, program providers, and service deliverers, to ensure no one is left unserved. We recognize the growing need for elderly immigrant home care and for temporary quality staff support for our partnering facilities. At Arcavia Home Care our primary goal is to extend the quality of life of our patients. We extend the quality of life of every patient by supplying tailored programs that ensure our patients receive the best level of care at the most affordable rates. the home care advantage

To learn more about our programs or to become a partner organization contact us at homecare@arcavia.ca

References

1 Keir et al, Nature: ScientificReports, 2020. Social isolation, loneliness and physical performance in older-adults: fixed effects analyses of a cohort study. Toronto, Ontario: Nature.com:  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-70483-3

2 Government of Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014. Seniors’ Falls in Canada: Second Report. Toronto, Ontario: www.hc-sc.gc.ca: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/migration/phac-aspc/seniors-aines/publications/public/injury-blessure/seniors_falls-chutes_aines/assets/pdf/seniors_falls-chutes_aines-eng.pdf

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