John has given me permission to tell his story. It encompasses the most recent 15 years of his life and the health challenges he has endured during these years. Although reading it may be disheartening at times, it clearly indicates that there is HOPE for all individuals challenged with chronic health conditions.
If you or an aging loved one has been faced with a chronic illness and a foreboding recovery process, you are fully aware of the challenges: 1) the medical community may prescribe living within a care facility, 2) unfortunately, the loved one often becomes depressed, physically weaker and quality of life declines while living at a care facility, 3) it’s very difficult to find someone to discuss alternative care that offers more benefit to your loved one and, 4) the financial decisions can be dauting.
What Does A Family Do When Faced With These Circumstances?
When you read John’s story, you, too will empathize with the costs, both physically and emotionally, of chronic illness and recovery. It weighs heavily on the family. The family so desperately wants their loved one to live the best quality of life but how does one decide what direction to go in and where do the funds come from? Having been a part of John’s journey for the last 15 years, I want to offer some insight for you to consider if faced with these tough decisions. 1) Is there long-term health insurance? 2) If so, consult with a company that is skilled at keeping you or your struggling loved one in the best physical shape possible. 3) If there is no insurance and the family must use their savings, it’s the same answer–work with a company that offers customized, strength-resistance exercise programs to maximize the physical well-being of the chronically ill person and ultimately, minimizing care costs.
Why Is Exercise So Important?
When individuals are living with chronic disease or illness, maintaining physical strength is essential! Our health care system supports regaining strength, as evidenced by prescribing physical therapy following any injury or when combating the effects of chronic disease or illness. You may have witnessed individuals getting stronger and doing much better while undergoing physical therapy. But then…the physical therapy benefits are depleted and the individuals are on their own to sufficiently challenge themselves. This is often when strength starts to decline. The individual finds it difficult to stay motivated to work out, and the exercises become too repetitive and less effective. Weakness starts to set in and the individual has less energy, becomes more depressed and soon the exercise stops. I promise…there is HOPE for all individuals challenged with chronic health conditions.
Research indicates that exercise is imperative to all individuals but for those living with a chronic illness, strength-resistance exercise is essential in reversing the negative effects of all debilitating diseases. It helps prevent muscle weakness, mobility problems and other health complications associated with inactivity. The benefits of strength-building exercise are also meaningful in terms of managing symptoms, reducing the amount of medications needed, boosting energy to complete daily living activities, improving mood, increasing social participation as well as, managing care costs.
I founded Tandem Strength & Balance over 20 years ago. As a young person, I witnessed the effects on my grandma when she stopped exercising. She grew weaker, her quality of life declined and her care costs grew exponentially. It was then I decided to help aging seniors through strength-resistance exercise to achieve and maintain a higher quality of life. I became a physical therapist but my company focusses on the strength of the entire body. We help our clients to Get Strong. Stay Strong. Regardless of Age or Diagnosis.
As you read John’s story, you will appreciate the balance of wanting the best for your aging loved one and the cost of care. Trust me when I tell you, that maintaining strength is the best investment one can make! Physical strength directly relates to future living costs. Click here for more information on what makes the most financial sense when considering senior care services.
John’s Story – 2006
John, 51 years old, had a brain tumor removed and received intensive therapies following his surgery. The removal of the brain tumor caused stroke-like symptoms including severe weakness on his right side and difficulty expressing himself. Following four months of rehabilitation all therapies were stopped and the family was told he would always live in a nursing home due to the amount of care he required. John required total assistance moving his body in bed and the nursing home staff used a Hoyer/mechanical lift to get him up and into his wheelchair.
A year following his surgery, John was spending his days in bed except for meals. His wife was at the nursing home every day encouraging John to not give up and she started to look for options that John might benefit from. That is when Tandem Strength & Balance started exercising with John 3x’s/week. At 52 years old, he had lost strength throughout his body. The muscle loss was so severe he was unable to move either of his legs and he could not sit up without assistance of two people. The severe muscle loss was caused by John’s stroke, inactivity and long periods of time in bed.
Tandem Strength & Balance immediately started working on improving John’s overall strength. It was a slow process, due to the severe muscle loss, but also due to his slow processing ability, a byproduct of the surgery. It took him over 25 minutes to complete a set of weight exercises most people would complete in 5 minutes. However, he needed to do the exercises in order to gain strength and improve his function and mobility. It took a year and half but John was able to get in and out of bed whenever he wished without asking for help.
Progress was made over the next year while John continued to exercise with Tandem Strength & Balance 2x’s/wk. He began walking independently with his walker and he was able to climb a flight of stairs. Even more importantly, John was able to participate in two of his passions–playing trumpet in church and walking down the aisle, using a walker, at his daughter’s wedding.
John still needed to live in the nursing home due the amount of care he required because of other medical issues, but plans were being made to get him home. Over the next year, his exercises continued. His balance, endurance and safety all improved to the point that he walked throughout the nursing home with just a cane.
Tandem Strength & Balance had been exercising with John for over 3 1/2 years and plans were made for him to go home within 6 months. Unfortunately, the family received news that John’s long-term care insurance that had been paying for his nursing home and ongoing exercise was nearing its limit. The family decided they needed to cut costs; they would move John home and exercise with him to keep him strong–sooner than the original 6-month plan.
2010 – 2014
John was living at home with his wife in a split-level home. He had been home for over 3 years but even with exercise 3x’s/week at a local exercise club his mobility declined so much that he was using a walker and quite often, his wheelchair. Even though John understood the importance of leg strength, the leg strengthening equipment was too difficult for him to get on and off of at the gym. His endurance declined to the point that he no longer could walk into the gym without being totally exhausted. John was reaching a weakness level that would soon prevent him from staying at home. All of these changes prompted his wife to start services again. Tandem Strength & Balance exercised with John and within the year, he was back to walking with his cane and getting out and being active in his community again.
2015 to Present
John was stronger and again, due to financial concerns, the family stopped working with Tandem Strength & Balance because they thought John would be able to exercise on his own. Within a year he was using his walker and wheelchair again. It took another year for Tandem Strength & Balance to get John back to using only his cane. It’s now four years later, the family is still working with Tandem Strength & Balance. John is living a much happier life than 15 years ago; living at home, maintaining his independence and engaged with family!
Life can be very difficult but there is HOPE! Our client families often face difficult chronic health challenges and with strength-resistance training, life is better! We totally understand the financial pressures that families are often under and simply want every family to know these few things:
- We are available to help, whenever needed! We require no contracts. Our policy is to always help the family when they reach out to us.
- Our strength-resistance exercise programs enable aging seniors and those with chronic health challenges to maintain their independence, safe mobility, social engagement and to live life the way they want to live it.
- When individuals maintain adequate physical strength, care costs stay lower! Chronic illness can lead to many other illness, such as depression, heart disease and diabetes. As the body gets weaker more in-home care is required and often physical weakness leads to moving to assisted living or nursing home care, which is incredibly expensive and isolating.
- Physical strength is the HOPE for all individuals challenged with chronic health conditions.
Private-Pay Physical Therapy Service
The private pay, in-home, strength-resistance exercise programs offered by Tandem Strength & Balance can help you or your aging loved one to experience a better quality of life. We have the expertise and patience needed to help individuals to get strong and stay strong so they can enjoy what most of us take for granted: the strength to walk safely, live independently and the desire to participate in social outings with family and friends – all things that make for a happy life. Contact us with any questions you may have. We offer a no-obligation, free consultation to help you understand why you or a loved one may be struggling and what steps can be taken to make life better.
Everyone starts to lose strength within 3-5 days after strength training has stopped. So many older adults can not afford to lose any strength because they are just getting by.
DID YOU KNOW?
As physical therapists, we continue to challenge all of our clients in a way that caregivers and families can’t. We address the root cause of their mobility issues and help older adults build strength so they can enjoy their independence and keep living costs lower.