Many residents of Dubuque and elsewhere are generally familiar with yoga as a nice way to stretch and relax. But not everyone knows that it also can have some benefits for people receiving hospice care.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care has seen the usefulness and benefits of yoga for patients of any age or health condition. Quality instructors are able to adapt various poses and routines to fit everyone’s abilities, experience, and overall health. In many cases, they can also make sure that people start to see benefits the more they participate.
While caregivers, family members or loved ones of someone receiving hospice care may not be aware that yoga could be an option at this stage of their life, learning more about it may make them happy. In some cases, people may be invited to perform yoga together, making it a fun group activity. It helps keep everyone fit and creates nice memories at what could otherwise be a difficult emotional time.
People who want to learn more about yoga for anyone and everyone have a good opportunity in September. It’s considered National Yoga Month, an opportunity created by the U.S. Department of Human Services to educate communities around the country about the value of yoga, from tangible benefits like reducing inflammation and improving flexibility to simply making people feel better about their lives. Whether you have years ahead of you or less time, participating in yoga still can be a good chance to take a moment, breathe and feel better.
In fact, every time you do so, it can be a good opportunity to relax, recharge and take a break from your stresses and challenges.
People receiving hospice care considering whether yoga can work for them can consider the possible benefits:
- Yoga can be easily adapted. The images many of us see of yoga show people who are extra limber and optimal health doing all sorts of crazy contortions. But actual yoga doesn’t have to be this way. Instructors don’t like to push people to the point where things hurt or cause damage. They also don’t expect people in poor health to perform at the same level as someone who has been doing it well for a long time – but they will be happy that the person is trying the best they can.
- Yoga can be done anywhere. Some practitioners create studios and invite people to come. Others may go to community centers or gyms. Someone on hospice care may or may not be able to have the energy or support to travel somewhere else, but they may also find a yoga instructor who makes house calls. He or she will find a spot in the home where there is room for adequate stretching. In some cases, if someone is in weak health, basic stretching and modified yoga poses can take place in a chair or even a bed. This can still provide some of the physical benefits of yoga, such as relaxation, but not require full-body activities.
- Better breathing. Beyond the various poses with colorful and creative names (Downward Dog!) yoga is really about helping yourself be centered physically and mentally. Getting there can include not just the stretches but focusing on your breathing. Taking the opportunity to breathe better and breathe deeper will help you be more relaxed and calm. Someone who might be limited in their physical ability might still like to take a moment during the day to catch their breath and take a break from the stresses around them. It’s a good bet that someone on hospice care has all sorts of concerns, anxieties and to-do lists going through their head all the time, so anything that can help minimize this, even briefly, can be appreciated.
- Ease muscle pain. Along with the mental stresses and emotional stresses that may come when someone is receiving hospice care, there can be high levels of pain. A health care provider may offer various medications, and home health care agencies like Above and Beyond Home Health Care can offer the services of skilled massage therapists and physical therapists. But yoga can also help ease cramped muscles and improve flexibility.
- Better balance. As someone’s muscles weaken, their risk of falling increases. This can compound any fall risks that may have existed due to age or medical conditions even before someone went on hospice care, so there’s even more risk of falling and sustaining greater damage. One of the goals of many yoga programs is to improve balance, whether it’s holding poses longer or simply walking through the home easier and with less fear.
- Put things in perspective. There are actually disciplines of yoga that encourage laughter since this can boost one’s outlook at a rough time but also physically helps the brain and body (think belly laughs that stimulate your tummy muscles). Even if your yoga instructor may not be familiar with that particular school of thought, you can consider following up your sessions with a funny movie, or invite your most fun friends to join you so everyone has a good time.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care will be happy to help patients interested in finding yoga instructors and other community resources.