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Frail, Older People Encouraged To Get Up, Get Dressed And Get Moving For A Timely Recovery

Supporting frail, older people to get out of bed, get dressed and go for a walk is one of the best ways to ensure they recover from any illness in a safe and timely manner.

MidCentral DHB’s Get Up Get Dressed Get Moving campaign has been ongoing since 2018, and aims to safely maximise the activity levels of frail, older patients during their stay in hospital to ensure they have a speedy recovery, maintain their independence and lose as little muscle as possible.

Deconditioning, known as pyjama paralysis, can occur in patients who remain in bed and walk less, which can lead to longer hospital stays and a higher risk of other health complications, such as infections. Deconditioning is particularly prevelant in older people, due to the proclivity of the human body to lose muscle strength and general physical function as it ages.

Dr Syed Zaman, Clinical Executive for Healthy Ageing and Rehabilitation at MidCentral DHB, said it was a common misperception that bed was the best place for older people to be when recovering from an illness.

“Rest is an important part of the healing process but it should be used in conjunction with safe and regular physical activity. Evidence shows there is a sharp decline in mobility and health in patients who have longer bed stays. For every day in bed, older people lose 2 to 5 per cent of their muscle mass.”

“We can alleviate this by encouraging people to get out of bed, to sit up in a chair to have their meals, to get dressed in their own clothes and to keep moving on a regular basis. All health staff and whānau and support people have an important role to play here.”

For people facing lengthy hospital stays, Dr Zaman said staff were encouraged to assist them to take short walks, where possible. Whānau and support people can also help by ensuring their loved ones had loose-fitting, comfortable clothes, closed-in footwear with a nonslip rubber sole, and any walking aids they use at home, such as a stick or frame. During visiting hours, patients and their whānau are encouraged to utilise patient lounges, public areas and gardens to get away from the bedside.

Dr Zaman said this approach was also relevant for frail, older people who were convalescing in the community.

“If you are recovering from an illness at an Aged Residential Care facility or in your own home, then safe, regular movement and exercise will be also very beneficial for your ongoing health and wellbeing.”

For anyone interested in learning more about the Get Up Get Dressed Get Moving campaign, there will be a display presented by staff members in the foyer of Palmerston North Hospital’s main entrance on Wednesday, 21 October, between 10am and 12pm, and on Thursday, 22 October, between 10am and 11am and 1pm to 2pm.

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