Physical Exercise Significantly Decreases a Variety of Risk Factors in Older Adult Residents

It is well known that the older adult population residing in long-term care settings are highly heterogeneous, characterized by high rates of dependency in the performance of activities of daily living, multiple diseases, and polypharmacy.  Although it may be challenging, nursing home and assisted living facility staff must provide the best possible care to their residents, striving to meet their needs and staying vigilant for any risk factors that may cause residents to experience adverse outcomes.  According to a recent report from the United Nations, the number of older adults ages 60 and above is predicted to increase by more than double by 2050, with elderly people ages 80 and above constituting the age group with the greatest increase in growth.  The number of older adults residing in long-term care facilities is also predicted to increase, resulting in a critical increase in health care expenses.

One of the primary challenges for the care of the older adult population living in institutions is to prevent residents from experiencing functional decline, which consists of individuals’ intrinsic ability and environmental factors, and the ability to live with their functional limitations for as long as they can.  Substantial evidence has shown that physical activity that targets the whole body protects against both the development of disability in performing activities of daily living and progression of the severity of disability among older adult residents in general.  Long-term care facility research and clinical care experts, as well as the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) and the World Health Organization, have long recognized the necessity of exercise as part of the provision of quality care in institutional settings.  Substantial scientific evidence has shown that exercise training significantly enhances the ability to carry out activities of daily living in long-term care facility residents.

Engaging in physical exercise training undoubtedly has significant advantages due to its ability to decrease the risk of a variety of negative factors in long-term care facility residents, such as being prone to falls, developing cardiovascular diseases, and suffering from mood disorders.  At the same time, the engagement in physical exercise has a low risk of negative health outcomes.

A recent study from Crocker et al. showed that elderly residents who performed exercises on a regular basis had a greater ability to carry out activities of daily living than those who did not.  The physically active residents also showed improvement in physical functioning and increased independence.

In regards to older adult residents with dementia, Forbes et al. found that those who exercised performed activities of daily living better than those who did not. For those who suffered from depression, older adults who exercised showed a decrease in aberrant motor behavior and eating disorders, as well as reduced apathy and agitation.

Strong evidence from multiple studies clearly shows that physical exercise is crucial for vulnerable and frail older adults living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, such as those located in Bellflower and Bell Gardens, California.  Long-term care staff should be providing their residents the opportunity to engage in appropriate forms of physical activities on a daily basis. At the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi, our experts and attorneys in elder law believe that older adults under the care of these kinds of facilities should be provided the best quality of care at all times. Contact us if you have been abused or neglected while being a resident of a long-term care facility.