Have you or a loved one been hospitalized recently? Whether it was due to a surgery, COVID-19, a fall, or other reason, many people report feeling extremely weak after being in the hospital for only a few days!
There is a term for this perceived feeling of weakness called “deconditioning”. Hospital-associated deconditioning refers to a decline in physical and mental function after a period of bedrest or inactivity. Surprisingly, research has shown that we lose muscle strength at a rate of 2-5% per DAY of hospitalization! It has therefore become a goal in many hospitals to reduce the number of days patients are kept in their facilities in order to prevent severe loss of strength.
Many of our clients seek out our services after being discharged from the hospital and noticing a decline in their function. While strength and endurance can technically return to their prior levels, many factors affect this including age, activity level and cognitive ability. For most people, they never feel quite the same after a hospitalization. And, the decline in muscle mass mentioned above is linked to an overall decline in function- more falls and immobility.
Fortunately, there are numerous steps you can take to reduce the severity of deconditioning. First and foremost, your physical function PRIOR to the hospitalization plays a huge role in how you feel afterwards. So even though most people don’t plan to spend multiple days in the hospital, it is important to do preventive things in case it does happen. Regular exercise/activity, good sleep, a healthy diet and maintaining cognitive function are all important!
After you are home, it is even more important to avoid more hospitalizations. Consider having an assessment of your home environment, whether you live in a house, an independent/assisted living facility or other dwelling, hiring a professional to examine your surroundings and suggest improvements to make your space safer will save you time, money and hassle in the long-run. A professional can also assess your physical function (balance, strength, mobility, etc.) to gauge your fall risk and recommend adaptive equipment and exercises.
In conclusion, it is common to experience hospital-associated deconditioning as our bodies do not respond well to inactivity. Having a better understanding of this phenomenon and how to address it before AND after has huge benefits!
Think you or a loved one would benefit from a home assessment? Contact us today: 602-448-8785 to see how we can help you.