Relaxation Techniques for Frail Seniors

We all know what it feels like to sit all day or be laid up in the bed. Our back aches and our muscles grow tight. Imagine if most of your day consisted of sitting in a wheel chair or being in bed for greater than 12 hours a day. Yet each day many of us as  caregivers often forget the impact both the prolonged sitting position or bedbound has on the back and joints of our care recipients.  Well there are some very simple integrated exercises using Feldenkrais movements that help decrease the tightness and feel like a gentle massage to the recipient. If you don’t believe me let someone help you  rock or do it yourself   and you will feel like a Happy Baby. To get started you can help the person if they are laying on their back by asking them to bend their knees up with feet flat on the bed. If they are unable, then you can help them bend their knees and hold their feet. Then ask the person if  they are able to gently rock their knees side to side like a pendelum. If they are not able, then you can gently rock the knees rhythmically side to side by gently rocking them with your hands. Go through the  rocking movement for about 7-10 repetitions or whatever is comfortable. Then pause and ask the person to take  a big belly breath beginning by blowing  all their air  as you push down on their belly  and then  ask them to take in a  big breath by pushing  up against your hand you place on their belly. You then push your hand on their belly down as they exhale.  Relax and repeat for 3 belly breaths.Relax after each breath in- raising the belly up and then pushing down to help them blow  it all out.   Now, repeat the  knee rocking motion side to side with feet flat on bed  and watch the movement you see in the person’s pelvis and lower back.  Rest and take a deep belly breath by  asking them to blow all their  air out and then inhale air making their   belly  rise as  they inhale deeply.  Repeat the belly breathe three times and then relax.  Do one more repetition of the knee rocking like a pendulum side to side  only moving back and forth as it feels light and free not in painful range.  Then repeat again the 3 good belly breaths and relax. Now  still keeping your  knees up, feet flat ,  then interlace  the care receipents  fingers together and gently ask them to raise their hands over their heads, arms outstretched  so they can see them.  If they need help you may help them  raise their arms.  Then ask them with the fingers interlaced  and arms raised  to level over  head where they can view them with their eyes, to  rock  the arms side to side as they watch their hands move side to side with their eyes.  Try for 5-7 repetitions and then lower the arms with fingers still interlaced and take 3 good belly breaths and then relax.  Repeat  by raising the  arms  over head with fingers interlaced rocking side to side. Notice the person may automatically rock their knees as well and this is good.   Now,  ask them or help them lower the arms and take 3 good belly breaths. Repeat one more time interlacing the fingers and raising them over their  head watching the hands move side to side  with the eyes. Rest and then take 3 good belly breaths.  After the  third set see if they can also move the arms and knees in rocking motion together to the right and then to the left.  You may have to help them but supporting the arms or gently rocking the knees or both.  After 5-7 repetitions, put the arms down and then perform the 3 good belly breaths and rest. Last of all, if they are able you will then have them with their feet flat on the bed and knees bent and fingers interlaced and arms raised ask them to l move the knees to the right and arms to the left as they follow the arms and fingers with their eyes.  This is a twisting type rocking  movement with head, arms overhead  to the left and then knees to the right.  Now, repeat  rocking with knees to left and arms to the right, following arms with the eyes.  Try this for seven complete sets.  Then do 3 big belly breaths and relax. Slowly after you are done with the rocking,  stretch their  legs out and relax for 30 secs.  Then ask them to  draw knees up and feet flat again, interlace fingers and raise the arms up over head , follow the arms with  their eyes  and slowly roll to one side to get up with your  help.  Your  care recipient’s  back should feel looser as will their  shoulders. Give it a try today on yourself and then give the gift of relaxing movement to your care recipient.  Remember  as always to consult with the care recipients doctor or therapist  to make sure the rocking movements will not cause pain or are contraindicated perhaps due to a recent hip fracture or dislocation.

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