From clinic to home – the paradigm shift in elderly rehab that is needed
Even in their twilight years, you would rather that your parents lived relatively active and happy lives and not bedridden most of the time. Physiotherapy is highly pertinent, albeit overlooked means to ensuring this. It is also well acknowledged that with any rehabilitation programme, patients are generally happier receiving treatment at home than being at a medical facility. John Mark has dedicated himself to contributing to this cause. He has penned the following article:
Given Singapore’s aging population, there has been an increased awareness of the need for holistic and good quality rehabilitation. This is especially true for our elderly population. As one ages, our bones reduce in size and density, making them weaker. This is associated with higher risks of fracture. Muscles also shrink and lose their strength and endurance. The above can be detrimental in day-to-day living as it affects an individual’s overall ability to function.
There has been considerable research showing the important health benefits associated with exercises. Good quality rehabilitation, focusing on exercises and increasing overall physical activities, helps to improve both the physical and mental health of our elderly. Maintaining good mental and physical health ensures continued independence as well as a good quality of life.
Listed below are the four main benefits associated with exercises and keeping fit for the elderly:
- Disease Prevention
Maintaining regular physical activity can help prevent common diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, joint pain, and obesity. It also improves overall immunity and is a powerful tool for preventable disease management.
- Improved mental health
At a certain intensity, exercise produces endorphins – which are our feel-good hormones. They help relieve stress and make a person feel happy and satisfied. Exercise also helps improve sleep, which is pertinent in the elderly, who often suffer from insomnia and altered sleep patterns.
- Decreased risk of falls
A myriad of targeted exercises that focus on balance and proprioception can help reduce the risk of falls. This is extremely important as falls are associated with high morbidity in the elderly and severely affects their quality of life.
- Improved cognitive function
Regular physical activity and fine-tuned motor skills benefit cognitive function. Countless studies suggest a lower risk of dementia for physically active individuals, regardless of when you begin a routine.
Unfortunately, with the pandemic plaguing our nation over the past two years, the elderly have been advised to avoid leaving their residences, in view of the threat that the COVID virus poses to them. This has inevitably resulted in reduced mobility and decline in function of many seniors in our community. Prior to the pandemic, rehab and exercise classes were usually carried out at gyms and private facilities but that has also ceased in terms of the numbers and frequency.
Due to the COVID situation, there has been a shift towards more home-based interventions, minimizing seniors’ exposure to external settings. Home-based physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and bespoke home-based exercise programmes can help ensure a seamless and continued rehab programme for the elderly in our community. Trained and qualified therapists will visit your home, with all the necessary equipment to assist them with their rehab journey and to achieve set goals together.
Home-based therapy sessions take away the need to travel out of the house and that results in time and money saved in travelling. It also eliminates the need for a caregiver to accompany them for therapy sessions in external settings. In certain cases, home therapy might be even more suitable as it encompasses training of caregivers to continue daily home-based rehab exercises. All in all, with a changing social climate, healthcare services are also evolving to meet the needs and demands of our population, to ensure the best quality of care available in Singapore.
John Mark’s entry into physiotherapy happened by accident, literally. An ankle injury from a hockey accident forced him to undergo a surgery. His physiotherapy rehab was guided by a superb physiotherapist. Impressed, John decided to pursue a degree in the field. Subsequently, he started working as a physiotherapist and started Home Healthcare in 2021. Since then, he has been motivated every day, by the opportunity to play a role in his clients’ improvements, be it in function or in resolving their pain.