As people age, lifestyle and health problems often contribute to less mobility. A sedentary lifestyle with prolonged periods of immobility has been shown to lead to many health risks, even death, for the elderly. Promoting and aiding in the mobility of your loved ones through proper geriatric care can provide health benefits that may increase their lifespan.
Immobility is a common cause of major health problems in the elderly. It creates a sedentary lifestyle that puts seniors at high risk for deteriorating health. Problems with standing, walking and other movements can lead to a variety of problems including bone loss, muscle atrophy, respiratory illness, high blood pressure, and heart problems. It can also contribute to unsafe living conditions, hygiene problems, and malnutrition.
Common Causes of Immobility
Immobility can be caused by a variety of failing health conditions, as well as mental and emotional conditions including depression and anxiety. Many elderly people have health conditions that prevent them from performing the most basic tasks like walking, eating, and bathing. If they are confined to a wheelchair or bedridden, a life without daily movement will certainly speed up the mortality rate. Immobility can result from a number of conditions commonly seen in the elderly:
* Osteoporosis and bone loss
* Muscle atrophy and joint pain from arthritis
* Fractures and broken bones from falls
* Pneumonia and respiratory illness
* Weakness from dehydration or malnutrition
* Parkinson’s disease
* Depression, anxiety and mental illness
* Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Immobility is a major cause of bone loss and muscle atrophy. When this occurs, standing, sitting, walking and other movements can create weakness, fatigue and pain. These conditions create an increased risk of injuries and broken bones from falls. If a fall results in a broken hip, a common senior injury, a person may become bedridden or confined to a wheelchair indefinitely.
Lack of movement and regular exercise has a big impact on the heart and lungs, especially in elderly adults with failing health. Immobility often leads to respiratory and heart problems. Lack of movement can lead to shallow breathing which contributes to fluid in the lungs, as well as pneumonia. Prolonged immobility often causes the heart to shrink, resulting in circulatory problems, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Immobility can also lead to gastrointestinal problems in the elderly. Many seniors have problems with constipation and urination, bowel blockage, and stomach infections due to immobility. These can be serious health problems that can have fatal consequences when left untreated.