Every month, the leadership team at the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association (GAPNA) highlights the most important published literature that impacts geriatric practice. This month, Deborah Dunn, EdD, MSN, GNP-BC, ACNS-BC, GS-C, gives her thoughts on the benefits of reducing sedentary time for older adults.

Effectiveness of senior dance in the health of adults and elderly people: an integrative literature review

Geriatr Nurs. 2020;41(5):589-599.

Researchers analyzed the results of 7 published studies on dance therapy interventions for older adults. Despite small sample sizes, the review article concluded that there is a link between participation in senior dance and improved mental and physical function, as well as better adherence to self-care routines and social roles with friends and family.1

Commentary by Dr Dunn:


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Encouraging older adults to maintain a healthy lifestyle and providing counseling on innovative strategies to increase activity and exercise has never been more important than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Temporary closures and restrictions on businesses, exercise facilities, and community-based group activities have reduced the availability of resources for older adults to exercise, stay active, and engage socially.

The benefits of daily activity and planned exercise are well established in the literature. Older adults benefit both physically and mentally from regular exercise, showing increased functional abilities, decreased risk of falls, improved mood, motivation, and decreased anxiety and depression.

In this integrative review, the authors explore the effectiveness of senior dance in promoting health among older adults. Senior dance is a specific exercise intervention that when practiced regularly, may enhance functional status, increase stamina, and improve self-reported quality of life. During this time of stay-at-home orders, we can encourage seniors to try some fun activities at home, such as senior dance. Senior dance can be adapted for various levels of functional status and various environments from in-home environments to care-setting environments.

Put on the music, and let’s dance!

Exploring the attendance and potential benefits of reducing sitting time for residents in a Canadian long-term care setting: a pilot study

Gerontol Geriatr Med. 2020;6:2333721420981327

Residents of a long-term care facility were invited to participate in 3 standing sessions in the morning, afternoon, and evening for 10 minutes at a time. These sessions were offered 4 days per week; the average attendance was 45 minutes out of 120 minutes offered. During the sessions, residents were encouraged to gather around a table and participate in activities such as jokes of the day, group discussion, and topic of the day.2

Commentary by Dr Dunn:  

Long-term care (LTC) settings provide care to older adults who often have many co-morbidities and self-care deficits. Inactivity, bed rest, and prolonged sedentary time are factors known to hasten health decline in older adults. Interventions aimed at reducing the amount of time LTC residents spend in a seated position may have the potential to reduce frailty, as well as physical and cognitive decline.

While no significant intervention effects were found in this study, the authors provide insight into conditions and factors that researchers in LTC settings should control for, and take into account, when conducting similar studies.

Advanced practice providers in LTCs are well positioned to implement and study interventions for increasing residents’ active minutes per day, reducing sedentary time, and providing evidence of the health benefits for older adults in these settings.

Pilot testing a stretching regimen for prevention of night time nocturnal leg cramps.

Geriatr Nurs. 2020;41(2):105-109.

Fifteen adults aged 75 years and older were instructed to complete 3 daily stretches of their calves and hamstrings. After 6 weeks, both the frequency and pain intensity of nocturnal leg cramps were reduced among the participants in the intervention group compared with participants who did not complete the daily stretches.3

Commentary by Dr Dunn: 

Leg cramps are reported to occur in up to 60% of adults, with older adults reporting the highest frequency of nocturnal leg cramps. This condition is distinct from restless leg syndrome, is associated with a variety of conditions, and can be a side effect of medications.4 Patients often report disrupted sleep as the main reason for seeking medical care for this condition.

As advanced practice providers, we seek the best interventions we can deliver for treating patients’ conditions; effective evidence-based, nonpharmacologic therapies such as exercise interventions are highly desirable. In this pilot study of frail older adults (n=29; mean age, 85 years), researchers found that a before bedtime lower extremity stretching exercise regimen significantly reduced the frequency and intensity of leg cramps at night.

Nonpharmacologic interventions such as lower extremity stretching exercises may benefit older adults in effectively managing nocturnal leg cramp pain and reducing episodes of sleep disruption, as well as lowering medication burden and costs. 

References

  1. Santos DPMA, Queiroz ACCM, Menezes RL, Bachion MM. Effectiveness of senior dance in the health of adults and elderly people: An integrative literature review. Geriatr Nurs. 2020;41(5):589-599. doi:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2020.03.013
  2. Lee A, Sénéchal M, Read E, Bouchard DR. Exploring the attendance and potential benefits of reducing sitting time for residents in a Canadian long-term care setting: a pilot study. Gerontol Geriatr Med. 2020;6:2333721420981327. doi:10.1177/2333721420981327
  3. Hallegraeff J, de Greef M. Pilot testing a stretching regimen for prevention of night time nocturnal leg cramps. Geriatr Nurs. 2020;41(2):105-109. doi:10.1016/j.gerinurse.2019.07.010
  4. Allen RE, Kirby KA. Nocturnal leg cramps. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(4):350-355.