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Maintaining the Capacity for Basic Physical Independence

Maintaining the Capacity for Basic Physical Independence

March 4, 2020

Older adult care in our modern era – rife with technological advancement and perpetual medical breakthrough – lacks the multigenerational systems of care from yesteryear. The family then was indeed the core of care. Older adults were not left to cope with the infirmities of age on their own. The mindset of the West carries our independent spirit well into our declining years. What we desire in old age is what we so readily sought in our youth, independence.

Surgeon and Harvard Medical School Professor Atul Gawande wrote in his New York Times bestseller, Being Mortal, about the striking dichotomy between being an older adult surrounded by family and being one within the confines of institutions like senior living centers and nursing homes. Gawande highlights the formal classification for levels of function a person has as adhered to by health professionals. Known as the eight “Activities of Daily Living”, the ability to perform the following have direct ramifications on the quality of one’s life:

  1. Use the toilet 
  2. Eat 
  3. Dress 
  4. Bathe 
  5. Groom 
  6. Get out of bed 
  7. Get out of a chair 
  8. Walk

If the above activities are not able to be accomplished without help, you are lacking the capacity for basic physical independence. This need not mean you are disabled, but most people agree that they would like to continue performing these tasks independently for as long as possible.
Mobility and Independence, A special health report from the Harvard Medical School, astutely promotes deliberate maintenance and safeguarding of our independence. This is no less important in our older years. This report stresses the pride and joy we experience by doing things on our own. It states, “The ability to rely on our own body, skills, and mental agility is a crucial part of a satisfying life.”

One of these is walking. Yes, aging may take its toll on an older adult’s ability to spring into action. However, when it comes to mobility, the single most important thing an individual can do is to stay physically active. Within the Harvard Medical School report, it highlights that staying active keeps your joints limber, strengthen core muscles, and helps avoid backpain. Let’s not forget about the importance of maintaining a sense of balance.

When mobility is compromised, the use of a cane or walker can be nearly as advantageous to maintain frequent mobility. Older adults may lose full capacity to move on command. However, they should not lose the ability to maintain the capacity of physical independence.

“Walking is man’s best medicine” – Hippocrates
By Aaron Lamb, Director of Business Development

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