Do your nursing assistants work with elderly people? If so, part of their job is probably to keep their senior clients as active as possible. For example, your CNAs may be tasked with assisting with ADLs and IADLs. But, do your nursing assistants know the difference? At your next CNA in service meeting, you can use the following information as a quick review.
Activity & the Elderly
Think of all the activities that are part of your life-from the moment you get up until your head hits the pillow at night. Your life is busy with things that you have to do-like getting dressed and eating dinner-and things that you like to do-like talking to friends and watching TV. And, sometimes it seems like your days contain too many activities and too little time, right?
While you may wish for days with nothing on your schedule, imagine how empty your life would be without activity! Remember…it’s all the ways that you spend time throughout your day that add spice to your life.
People of all ages want to live full lives, but for some elderly people staying active becomes more difficult than it once was. For example, a woman with arthritis may give up her favorite hobby of needlework because of joint pain. A man with cancer may be so depressed that he chooses to sleep all day. Or, people who are confused may find it difficult to complete a game or puzzle, so they give up and do nothing.
Maintaining an active lifestyle helps elderly people enjoy a high quality of life. Most people are happy when life is a balance between:
- Performing personal hygiene.
- Meeting daily needs (eating, toileting, etc.).
- Performing personal activities such as hobbies.
Remember, the population of the United States is getting older! And, as people live longer and longer, staying active and enjoying life is becoming more important than ever before. Because you spend a lot of time with your elderly clients, you have the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives by helping them stay active.
Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)
Have you heard people talk about the “activities of daily living” or ADL’s? About one fourth of elderly Americans need help with these personal care activities. A big part of your job is probably to assist your clients as they perform their ADL’s.
The activities of daily living include seven personal care activities:
- Getting in and out of a bed or a chair
- Getting outside
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s)
You may also have heard about “instrumental activities of daily living”. IADL’s are important activities-especially for people who live on their own. These “instrumental” activities include six home management activities:
- Preparing meals
- Shopping for personal items
- Managing money
- Using the telephone
- Doing heavy housework
- Doing light housework
Activities can help pass the time and/or be a fun way for people to maintain or regain function. For example, Mr. Wilson is recovering from a mild stroke that affected his right arm and hand. He finds working on a jigsaw puzzle a pleasant way to spend his time, but because he’s trying to pick up the puzzle pieces with his weak right hand, this activity is also therapy for him.
- Entertain…like watching a movie.
- Provide a distraction…like playing cards.
- Promote communication…like chatting with friends.
- Complete a necessary task…like taking a bath.
- Have a therapeutic value…like going for a walk.
- Stimulate thinking…like doing a crossword puzzle.
- Promote creativity…like painting a picture.
- Improve the quality of life…like any of the above!
And, activities can be:
- Planned…like a weekly outing to church.
- Spur-of-the- moment…like singing along with a song on the radio.
- Daily…like getting dressed.
- Occasional…like going out to eat.
Everything you do with your clients can be considered an activity-it’s just that some activities are part of the daily routine and others make life more fun and interesting!
Would Your Nursing Assistants Like to Know More?
If so, consider presenting an in service that includes the consequences of being inactive, information about ten or more different types of activities and activities for special client populations (such as clients with cognitive impairments). Happy Teaching!