While bed rest is a common recommendation for both injury and illness, studies show that this practice can lead to weakening of muscle mass in patients of all ages. A normal muscle, at complete rest, in the absence of illness, loses up to 15% of its strength each week. The first muscles that are normally affected by prolonged periods of bed rest are the trunk and lower extremity muscles that are used for walking and upright posture. Bed rest can be especially problematic for people age 67 and up due to more lean tissue loss in a quicker amount of time. In fact, once we are age 67+, inactivity causes us to lose muscle mass 3x faster than when we were young adults.
After the injury has healed or illness has abated, many elderly patients still experience considerable risks associated with their period of rest. Rate of recovery from disuse weakness is slower than the rate of loss. With intensive exercise, people take 2.5 times longer than the period of rest to regain lost strength. The fact of the matter is that most seniors do not engage in intensive exercise after periods of bed rest and are more likely to quietly decrease their daily activities and self-care. Fall injuries, medication errors, and other problems become more likely during the months following bed rest. Our in-home aides can be there for clients to assist with medication adherence as their medications change and to evaluate the home for hazards related to recent loss of ability. Our aides will provide the human assistance that will bolster the confidence of your elderly parents, giving them more opportunity to exercise at home and more opportunity to re-engage themselves in their normal self-care and activities of daily living.
Sources: Kortebein P, Ferrando A, Lombeida J, et al. Effect of 10 days of bed rest on skeletal muscle in healthy older adults. JAMA. 2007; 297 (16): 1772-1774.