Mobilization of the care recipient

In addition to supporting the senior in daily activities, it is very important to organize their free time through mobilization.

Mobilization definitely contributes to improving the physical and intellectual fitness as well as the physical and mental health of the care recipient. Exercise causes an increase in endorphins, the so-called “happiness hormones”.  ?

Mobilization techniques

As years go by, people often become more sedentary and may have less inclination for physical activity. Especially people with health problems need their daily lives to be as smooth as possible. Therefore, daily life is routinely based on basic care activities, and seniors do not always ask for additional mobilization. An experienced caregiver is aware of the importance of proper activation of the care recipient.

Depending on the physical, mental, and health condition of the care recipient, different mobilization techniques can be combined in the daily lives of seniors:

Physical mobilization – it is important to prevent muscle atrophy in the care recipient and to make them feel partially independent:
Gymnastics can be conducted in a group of seniors (e.g., fitness for seniors, water aerobics, dance classes for seniors, senior yoga) or at home (e.g., sports exercises with balls/ribbons that can also be done while sitting) with the help of a caregiver.
Daily exercises such as short walks, climbing stairs, taking out the trash together, and going shopping together – help stimulate muscles daily and combine household chores with physical exercise.
Physiotherapy – performed by a specialized physiotherapist should be carried out after prior consultation with a doctor. Physiotherapy includes various strengthening, stretching, and relaxing exercises aimed at the rehabilitation of body parts and the maintenance of their functions.

Motor mobilization to strengthen sensory perception of hands, fine motor skills, and maintain them in good condition is recommended:
-Occupational therapies – take care of hand coordination through exercises such as painting/writing tasks, creative tasks (e.g., handicrafts) using different materials (e.g., creating a collage from leaves found on a walk). The occupational therapist instructs the senior during sessions on what exercises to perform, then at home, the senior with the help of the caregiver completes the “homework.”
Exercises involving the gripping of various materials and objects help train both hand muscles and sensory perception. Ideal for this purpose are spiked rehabilitation balls, so-called hedgehog balls, which the senior picks up from the table with one hand and then passes to the other. The care recipient can also roll them on their legs or arms.
-By performing basic household duties independently, the care recipient has a sense of independence and usefulness, so it is worth encouraging them to perform tasks together:
meal preparation, e.g., cutting fruits and vegetables, spreading bread, kneading or mixing dough
hanging wet laundry or folding dry laundry
light gardening tasks, e.g., watering, planting, or sowing flowers; picking fruit
partial personal hygiene, e.g., washing the face, neck, décolleté, or independently applying face cream
dressing with the assistance of a caregiver
Cognitive mobilization is extremely important for the senior’s sense of psychological security, maintaining good memory, and the ability to think clearly:
Daily communication is necessary for the care recipient to perceive events and situations around them, to be aware of what is happening in their life, the lives of their loved ones, in society, and in the world. Therefore, the caregiver should ask the care recipient about their well-being, suggest topics for conversation, and involve the senior in the process of making decisions about daily activities, e.g., planning the weekly menu, planning activities, outings, walks.
Reading together helps exercise cognitive processes: receiving, processing, and implementing acquired information. If the care recipient has vision or concentration problems, it would be best if the caregiver regularly reads books/newspapers to them. If the senior likes to read independently, the caregiver can encourage them to read aloud, and then discuss the contents of the book/newspaper together.
All kinds of puzzles are a fantastic activity for seniors, e.g., guessing songs based on the sounds of the melody, recognizing animals based on their typical features or sounds they make, playing a finish-the-proverb game, guessing everyday objects from picture puzzles or guessing an object placed in a bag based solely on touch. For example, if thematic puzzles are conducted in a group, besides being stimulated to think, the participants also strengthen their social skills in mutual exchange of possible solutions. -Keeping a calendar allows the senior to strengthen their time orientation and the ability to classify important dates and holidays for them. At the same time, daily marking of the calendar day is a recurring activity that helps exercise memory.

Activation techniques for care recipients with dementia.

Dementia not only takes away important life memories but also gradually limits the daily abilities and skills of the senior as the disease progresses. Due to the deterioration of cognitive abilities, individuals affected by the disease find it increasingly difficult to manage activities such as eating, using the toilet, or running independently. Special mobilization techniques are available to counteract dementia:

  • 10-minute activation: Individuals affected by the disease are activated for 10 minutes at a specific time each day. Below are examples of active time spending:
    • Memory games
    • Puzzles/checkers/chess
    • Proverbs game
    • Singing together
    • Reading books, newspapers, old journals aloud
    • Handicrafts, e.g., making seasonal window decorations
    • Drawing a memory from a special moment in life
    • Photographing the surroundings
    • Watching photos from the senior’s youth together
    • Telling interesting stories, describing experiences in stories
    • Creative work, e.g., clay or clay sculpting, origami, embroidery, sewing, crocheting, knitting, decoupage
    • Participation in cultural events, e.g., watching movies together, going to museums, watching performances, participating in senior music events
  • A consistent, daily rhythm helps sick people strengthen their sense of security. When activities are performed at regular times, the ward will eventually get used to the established rhythm and will initiate further routine activities on their own. It is important for the daily rhythm to include the following arrangements:
    • What time are meals served? (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner)
    • What type of personal hygiene takes place at what time? (e.g., in the morning: 8:00 – partial washing; in the evening: 19:00 – full body washing)
    • What are the rest periods during the day? What time is the wake-up call, and when does the ward go to bed?
    • What therapies take place during the week? (e.g., Monday – 10:00: speech therapy; Thursday – 15:00: occupational therapy)
    • When are the daily activities taking place? (e.g., 10-minute warm-up always in the morning after getting out of bed)

Activation techniques for permanently immobilized persons

Activating permanently immobilized seniors poses a challenge for many caregivers because the words “active” and “immobile” seem to exclude each other. However, mobilization occurs at different levels, so it can also be implemented in permanently immobilized wards:

  • Loud reading with visual stimuli (e.g., showing pictures – children’s books with large motifs are ideal here)
  • Listening to music together
  • Physical stimulation, e.g., massaging hands with spiked rehabilitation balls

f possible, immobilized individuals can be activated in a chair or wheelchair so that food can be served at the table. All the limbs of the senior’s body should be regularly moved to prevent contractures and bedsores.

While providing care and assistance with daily activities, the caregiver should communicate with the ward, provide opportunities for conversation, discussion, and ask questions:

  • Is the water temperature suitable?
  • Which shirt would you like to wear, sir/madam?
  • What activity would you like today, sir/madam?
  • Talk about important events (e.g., upcoming birthdays, holidays)
  • Discuss popular topics among seniors (e.g., music, sports, seasons, animals, pastimes, hobbies, gardening, health, etc.)