That is a common statement that I hear from older adults even following Medicare therapies. Spending long periods of time in bed leads to muscle weakness.
Research shows that one day of bed rest can cause a 6% loss of muscle mass. That is equivalent to the amount that we lose in an entire decade with normal aging.
What happens when you are sick?
Personally, when I get a cold and I lounge around my house for a few days getting back to work is difficult. I don’t have trouble walking, but I don’t have the same energy or endurance I had before I was sick. Now apply that same scenario to an 80-year old. Maybe they have been lying in bed for 2-3 days due to a cold, fall, surgery, or many reasons. Most illness cause weakness and older adults have less strength reserves than those of us in our 40’s. Because of the time spent in bed and the muscle mass lost the older adult is now at a higher risk of falls, may need a walker for support, may need help with transfers, and many other mobility changes.
Can strength be gained back?
Once a person loses strength the only way to gain it back is through resistance training. Improving leg strength not only helps with mobility, but also increases self-confidence, lowers blood pressure, reduces depression, improves quality of sleep and many other things. That is why we focus so much time on helping older adults to: Get Strong…Stay Strong.