Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Caregivers- Keep Your Loved-One Body Moving

Head up! Shoulders back! Chest high! Back straight! Knees bent! Lift with leg muscles! Where have you heard these commands? The ability to participate in gross and fine motor skills goes away as we age.

Many loved ones over time develop limited movement. Their muscles atrophy, bones become brittle and stiff, skin is fragile, and tears very easily and the joints have a mind of their own. Caregivers, what is your role in managing the aforementioned situation?

No matter how busy you might think you are as a caregiver, it is important to take the time to ensure movement that is tolerated, occurs! If you tell yourself that you don’t have time, change your mindset. Movement in our elderly is just as important as the events of the day and night. It is a matter of setting priorities, just as we do with the activities of daily living, medication management, doctor appointments, and other vital duties. It does not have to be a major time-consuming activity, but it does have to be consistent to help decrease the chances of contractures, pain, and stiffness. Osteoporosis and arthritis are two major issues that our elderly populations contend with; so whatever we can do to improve body mechanics, we must include them in our caregiving duties. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to add fine and gross motor skills into the caregiving space to help your loved one.

A few tips to consider when it’s exercise time.

1. Opening and closing hands

2. Bilateral reaching

3. Opening containers

4. Grasping and letting go of something

5. Holding a cup

6. Using play-dough (I love play-dough)

7. Turning the pages of a book

8. Pushing buttons

9. Threading large beads

Gross motor skills include:

1. Sitting

2. Standing

3. Walking

4. Rolling over

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, the goal here is to make movement activities a part of the caregiving journey. Also remember, our elders become child-like and many activities used for young children will work with our elders. Be safe! Be well!

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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.