When working in home health we often treat patients after a hospital stay or decline in function. For many of these patients, energy conservation is a very important factor in their rehabilitation process as their hospital or rehab stay may have sapped some of their former tolerance for activity. But, what exactly is energy conservation and how can we educate patients and their families on this topic?
Energy conservation is the act of streamlining regular activities for optimal preservation and enjoyment of preferred activities through the elimination or adaptation of more strenuous and possibly disliked activities. This prevents unenjoyable or complex tasks from robbing the energy from what a patient might enjoy or like to do.
Energy is like money- Be careful how you spend it!
Below we have provided a few suggestions to help patients conserve their energy.
- Spread difficult tasks out throughout the day/week
- Allow ample time to complete tasks without creating the need to rush
- Avoid feeling tired , stop an activity before you enter the exhaustion phase and have no gas left in
- Practice deep breathing with activity by taking deep full breaths in and breathing out slowly
Rearrange Your Environment/ Change How You Complete a Task
- Keep frequently used items nearby
- Move bed to first floor to decrease need to utilize stairs
- Use a commode if needed to decrease the distance to the toilet
- Sit down when bathing or drying off after a shower - use a bathrobe after a shower to reduce the
amount of time and energy spent toweling off
- Use a stepstool with dressing to prevent fatigue from reaching forward to your feet, alternate
which leg is raised to don/doff shoes and socks
- Use a stool when cooking to allow for frequent seated rest breaks or resting while supervising
whatever you’re cooking
- Gather all the items that you need before beginning a task
- Plan for rest breaks into your day
- Do NOT rush
- Cook in larger quantities so that you can save extra portions for later
- Prioritize your tasks each day to get the most needed tasks done
Keep Good Posture
- Sit and stand up straight
- Bad posture uses more energy
- Forward flexed posture can make breathing more difficult
- Carry items close to your body
Avoid Unnecessary Activity
- Sit when possible (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc)
- Use adaptive equipment when appropriate
- Use pre-prepared meals
- Use a rolling cart to transport things instead of carrying them
Ask for HELP!!!
- Delegate tasks to friends and family that have offered to help
- Consider hiring help if needed- cleaning service, gardner, caregiver
Even minor changes to old habits can create a profound effect with improved quality of life, reduced pain, and improved tolerance for necessary and desired activities. Sometimes in this life, less is more; when it comes to energy conservation, this is certainly the case.