Immobility and Inactivity

Nursing Home Resident Immobility and Inactivity

Nursing Home Abuse

Complications of Immobility Due to Inactivity

Elderly residents in nursing homes, bedridden or not, risk serious complications due to long periods of inactivity. If nursing home residents do not use the physical abilities that keep them mobile, they will lose much of their mobility.

For example, a nursing home resident who can walk, but who uses a wheelchair for ease or convenience, will gradually lose strength in his or her legs. Eventually, the resident won't be able to stand for more than a few seconds or walk any distance.

Dangers of Immobility Due to Inactivity

When a nursing home resident suffers from immobility, the risk of a fall increases. Also, as strength and mobility decrease, the resident's dependence on others increases, which can lead to emotional problems.

Though being still has a quiet, passive sound to it, in reality the complications that stem from immobility can wreak havoc on a person's body. As a youth- and fitness-driven culture, we tend to associate activity with weight loss, maybe cardiovascular health, and little more.

Complications of Inactivity and Immobility

Prolonged periods of inactivity and immobility can cause complications in almost every major body system.

Inactivity and the Respiratory system

Bedrest makes it difficult to expand the lungs fully. Secretions and other fluids in the lungs build up, which increases the risk of pneumonia and lung infections.

Inactivity and the Circulatory System

Bedrest leaves blood to pool in the legs. Blood pressure decreases as the risk of blood clots increases. Swelling is common. A resident's heart goes through vigorous wear because it must work harder to pump blood through a prone body. After prolonged inactivity due to bedrest, the resident may develop a condition called postural hypotension, where the resident becomes dizzy or faint when positioned upright.

Inactivity and the Skin

Pressure sores develop quickly because oxygen supply is curtailed and pressure is elevated.

Inactivity and the Muscular System

Muscles weaken and atrophy from lack of use. Shrunken muscles often produce contractures.

Inactivity and the Skeletal System

Calcium drains out of unexercised long bones. Osteoporosis, fractures, slowed healing, and other complications result from having calcium-depleted bones. The calcium released into the system increases the risk of kidney stones.

Inactivity and the Urinary Tract

A resident who spends the majority of time in bed may develop complications related to urination and defecation. People normally perform such functions in an upright position. Urine does not fully drain out of the bladder in the supine position. It is common for the leftover urine in the bladder to get infected. Overflow incontinence may result.

Inactivity and the Gastrointestinal System

Aside from losing the ability to feed oneself as weakness sets in, immobility may cause severe forms of constipation. Further, a bedridden resident has a higher risk of choking and of developing indigestion or heartburn. The resident's appetite may fade away from lack of activity, illness or boredom.

Inactivity and the Nervous System

Residents become weak from limited mobility. They may sleep from exhaustion during the day, which may, in turn, produce insomnia at night.

Inactivity and Mental Changes

Immobility causes frustration and feelings of helplessness. In turn, this causes irritability, boredom, lethargy, and depression.

The Cause of Immobility

One of the major causes of immobility are prolonged periods of inactivity.

Prevention of Immobility

The following can be done to help prevent immobility:

* Encourage elderly nursing home residents to be as independent as possible.
* Let nursing home residents do small tasks within their ability. That is, don't always do everything for them. It's OK to let a resident struggle with a task, but intervene when the resident shows signs of frustration.

Nursing Home Responsibilities in the Prevention of Immobility

* A nursing home should develop and implement a care plan that specifically addresses immobility. Progressive mobility and range-of-motion plans should be included.
* A nursing home should also document range-of-motion exercises and progressive mobility activities in the medical record. They should periodically summarize the results, noting the resident's overall progress and whether the resident is using assistive devices.
* Nursing home staff should teach residents little ways to get exercise even while bedridden. For instance, teaching the resident to pull on the siderail when turning over.
* Staff at the nursing home should avoid putting a resident on bedrest unless a physician orders it. Even then, a nursing home resident should be on bedrest for only the shortest amount of time possible.
* If a resident is not progressing as expected, the nursing home staff should find out why
* The nursing home should provide a well-balanced diet rich in proteins and minerals.
* Nursing home staff should help the resident be as active as possible, whether it's turning over in bed or moving the wheels on his or her own wheelchair.

Commitment to Sustained Health of Elderly Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home lawyer Jeffrey H. Rasansky is committed to improving the health and well being of nursing home residents. While immobillity due to inactivity is common in the elderly, staff at a nursing home should take steps to prevent immobility. If your loved ones immobility is possibly due to the neglect or negligence of nursing home staff, contact an experienced nursing home lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeff Rasansky. We can help.

Jeff Rasansky is licensed to practice before all state courts in Texas, the United States District Courts in the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas and the Fifth United States Circuit Court of Appeals.

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