Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Why Hiring the Right Trainer for Your Senior Fitness Program Is Vital

Let’s face it, personal trainers are pretty ubiquitous these days, and it’s easy to understand why. The industry doesn’t have licensure (yet), and there are a lot of inexpensive and easy-to-obtain “personal trainer” certifications available that allow fitness enthusiasts with little knowledge about how the body works to earn a distinction as a personal trainer.

The scary truth about hiring a personal trainer for your senior living community is that the typical consumer doesn’t necessarily know what to look for in a qualified fitness professional. Unfortunately, the I-paid-them-and-they-certified-me individual looks equally competent alongside the individual who has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and who has earned and painstakingly maintains an industry gold-standard certification.

While hiring an exercise professional for your senior living community fitness program is a very buyer-beware proposition, the rewards for making the right staffing choice can be great.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to the residents.

MMFC1.jpgThis is really what it’s all about, right? You want a passionate, capable, competent, self-starter running the exercise program in the community. You need someone who will

  • Coordinate the group exercise program (the fitness specialist should be teaching at least some of the classes).
  • Initiate and execute on health-related programming both in the fitness area as well as in partnership with other departments in the community.
  • Promote and provide important services like exercise prescriptions (writing individual exercise programs for residents) and senior fitness testing, as well as follow up with residents to offer updated exercise programs and repeat testing as appropriate.
  • Track participation by individuals and reach out to nonactive residents to invite them into programs.
  • Manage the fitness space, including ensuring amenities are well stocked and equipment is in good working order.
  • If your personal trainer isn’t doing these things for you, it’s worth spending some time to re-envision what’s possible in your exercise program. Your residents deserve regular access to diverse classes that respect and challenge them physically. They will participate more if a fitness professional is available to customize exercise plans for them and to help them evaluate their progress along the way. And having a point person who is tracking the participation data and is constantly innovating will draw in more residents who wouldn’t engage without a personal invitation.

The right fitness professional is a major benefit to your business.

This is a tough one. Community leadership seems to have a difficult time making the leap from status-quo group fitness classes and the occasional trainer to establishing a manager for a robust fitness program. Maybe that’s consumer driven, and today’s residents, for the most part, aren’t balking at the outdated model. Maybe the lack of change is rooted in where fitness falls on the priority list.

Yet, with the right fitness center manager on board, you can free up your activities director to actually create person- and purpose-centered activities instead of tracking down a substitute for the group fitness instructor who just bailed on a class. You also send a distinct message to prospects and current residents that healthy living is central to who you are. And because so many communities are still operating on the outdated “group fitness + occasional trainer” model, you clearly distinguish your senior living community from the competition.

If you’re ready to start tapping into these benefits, you can either hire your own fitness center manager for the community, or partner with an organization like ours (NIFS fitness center management) to start improving the fitness program for your residents.

 Senior Fitness

 

Topics: CCRC senior living nifs fitness management staffing senior fitness personal trainers nifs fitness center management

Balance and Fall Prevention: How to Fall and Get Back Up Safely

ThinkstockPhotos-494387335.jpgMarch is Balance and Fall Prevention Month for the National Institute for Fitness and Sports (NIFS) Active Aging sites. Although this is an important component of exercise for all age groups year round, NIFS spotlights balance and fall prevention for a month-long program and showcases the various challenges and solutions to balance issues, as well as how to stay ahead of the balance curve.

Our senior living communities provide educational presentations and handouts for residents to help with fall prevention. One such handout is a home safety checklist to ensure that your surroundings are as fall-proof as possible. The Home Safety Checklist can be a great resource to make safe changes around your home by doing things like making sure small rugs and runners are slip resistant, providing good lighting—especially in hallways, passageways between rooms, and other heavy-traffic areas—and keeping exits and passageways clear. These are just a few of the suggestions. What else has worked for you?

How to Prevent Injuries When Falling

The objective of NIFS Balance Challenge is to prevent falls, but let’s say you suddenly find yourself falling. Remembering these tips and safely practicing how to fall can be the difference between a bruise and a broken bone:

  • Never try to prevent the fall itself. Instead, stay relaxed to prevent further injury.
  • Bend your knees, or crouch, during a fall.
  • Turn/twist your body so you can fall onto the outside of your lower leg first. If you cannot twist your body, NEVER try to catch yourself with your hands as it can break your wrists.
  • Instead, smack the ground with your hand(s) to lessen the impact of the fall.
  • Roll onto your backside to allow the muscles to dissipate energy and lower the impact force.

Fear is often the biggest obstacle when it comes to falling. Having a game plan and practicing the correct falling form can train your body how to safely fall and maximize injury prevention.

[Read More: How one resident's fall inspired a whole community]

 

What's Next After You Fall

  • After a fall, you are probably feeling shaken up and scared. Take a moment to make sure you are alright and that nothing is broken. Wiggle your fingers and toes and then begin to feel other parts of your body as you regain your bearings. If you are feeling okay, remember these helpful tips for safely getting up from a fall:
  • Roll over naturally to your side so your stronger arm is facing up.
  • Place your inside arm on the ground at chest level and place your outside palm on the ground to lift your upper body.
  • With both hands flat on the ground, lift your hips from the ground so that you are on all fours.
  • Crawl to the nearest, most steady piece of furniture (such as a chair, couch, or countertop).
  • Place both hands on the furniture and use your stronger leg by placing your foot flat on the ground in front of your body. 
  • Pull yourself up slowly; sit, if possible.
  • Do not let anyone lift you unless they are trained to do so.
  • Use your pendant or make noise for help if you cannot get yourself up.

These are just a few of the topics that the professionals at NIFS present at senior living communities across the country. This education folds in well with weekly balance classes and individualized balance exercises that are available year round for seniors. 

Download our whitepaper to see how we have evolved our programming in community fitness centers.  Residents need more than a simple balance class, do more for your residents.  Click below to get started.

Find out how we help residents improve their balance >

 

Topics: senior wellness active aging senior living balance fall prevention injury prevention

Active Aging: Using the Fitness Freeze to keep visit numbers up

fitness_freeze1.jpgEveryone is planning their holiday vacations and parties. As the manager of a fitness center, your job is about to get just a little tougher. This time of year it’s incredibly difficult to keep the attendance up in the fitness center. I think a lot of members think they can just “put it off” until January 1st and that it’s not that big of a deal if they miss a few weeks of workouts. Unfortunately for those people, there can be major losses after just two weeks of skipping workouts. According to this article, it only takes two and a half to three weeks of inactivity to start seeing strength declines; and losses in cardiovascular fitness can happen even more rapidly.

So, in order to combat those declines in our Active Aging sites, we’ve created the Fitness Freeze program. The basic idea of the program is as follows:

Members earn a snowflake for each week where they exercise three or more times. This can include attending a group fitness class, working out in the fitness center, or exercising on their own somewhere else. At some sites, residents can earn a “bonus” snowflake by completing an assigned task such as a scavenger hunt, an express workout, or trying a new machine or exercise. As members earn their snowflakes, the manager will hang them up throughout the fitness center. The effect is thrilling. Each fitness center becomes a “snowy” wonderland as more and more residents earn their snowflakes.

It’s a fun, simple program that has proven extremely effective in our Active Aging sites. Last year was the first running of the Fitness Freeze program and it resulted in:

  • 11% increase in the total visits from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.
  • 8% increase in members gained from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.
  • 26% increase in the number of appointments held from November to December 2014 compared to the same months in 2013.

Our team has set even higher goals for the 2015 Fitness Freeze and I can’t wait to see the results! How are you keeping your members motivated during the holidays?

It's not just about creative programming, how do you plan to take your program to the next level?

Download our eBook below for strategies to take your fitness center from vacant to vibrant!

Download Now

 

Topics: active aging senior living senior living wellness programs

Programs: The Way to their Heart is through their Stomach:  If you Feed them they will Come!

We have all been there, you spend hours and hours program planning putting together what you KNOW is a terrific program.  You included all the buzz words that get folks jazzed up and ready to participate like:  BALANCE-BOOSTING, ULTRA- EFFECTIVE, FAT-BURNING, MUSCLE-BUILDING, TONING AND STRENGTHING, EXCITING NEW CLASS.  You plaster signs all over the place, put notices in mailboxes and do just about everything short of hiring a skywriter to fly over and advertise for you.  The first day of your new class dawns, and you are filled with enthusiasm.  You are thinking that you really knocked this one out of the park, and that the room will be filled with eager new participants and people ready to “feel the burn” so to speak.

As you are setting up a sinking feeling sets in, a few people start to trickle in and you look up at the clock.  One minute till show time, so you figure, I might as well wait a minute, introduce myself to everyone and make sure they are set and ready to go.  A few extra minutes go by and you end up with a grand total of five participants.  Five.  For all that effort and work, you prepared for weeks prior to the new program, and this is the turn out you get.   Plaster a smile on your face and show just as much enthusiasm for the five brave souls who showed up as you would if 40 (who you hoped might show up) people were there and were just as excited as you are.

As the class wraps up, you ask yourself:  Self, where did I go wrong?  Were my advertisements boring?  Should I have hired a barbershop quartet to sing a jingle for me?  Would it have been a good idea to pull the fire alarm to see if people would just show up?  We have all been there, and are not immune to the crash and burn of a new program.  Sometimes no amount of advertising can give a program the boost it needs to succeed.  But I can tell you that one method has never failed me, ever.  And that method is… FOOD.   You provide any kind of food to the members and they will show up, in droves.

So what kind of options do you have?  Depending on your clientele you can range from mild to WILD…  Think of theme-ing the heck out of it.  Make it jive with your program, so what about Hula Lessons and Tropical Smoothies with Pineapple and Coconut Water?  Or how about Tai Chi with a Chinese tea tasting following (oolong, black tea, green tea, etc).  Get them up and moving in the morning with breakfast. Our favorite is our D.I.Y Oatmeal Bar.  It is cheap, relatively easy and really draws a crowd.  Set out a pot of oatmeal, and then a variety of fixin’s, from raisins and craisins to brown sugar, sliced almonds, and maple syrup, you can’t go wrong.

But really, any old food will do.  The next time you launch a new program, check the web for fun food ideas and see what you can come up with!

Evaluate your community wellness programs and see how you can incorporate offerings to help build vitality in your community.  Download our eBook below!  

Download our eBook: Build Vitality In Your Community

Topics: active aging senior living

Senior Living Providers: It’s time for more than group fitness

Every senior living community offers group fitness classes.  If you want to stand out from the competition, you have to offer more.

Good is no longer good enough.

So much in senior living is evolving, except for fitness.  The fitness industry itself is evolving, and rapidly, but many communities aren’t progressing to adopt new exercise equipment for older adults, updated staff-led services that increase resident participation, or smart data from the fitness program that can inform future decision making.

What about your community?  It’s likely that you are offering at least some group fitness classes that the residents choose from each week.  These classes in senior living, especially formats that specifically address balance training or brain health, are a must for any senior living community.  There’s a decent chance that your residents love their group instructors, and the report from your activities director probably notes that the classes are well-attended and well-liked.

There’s also a strong likelihood that you haven’t looked closely at your exercise program recently as a place where the community could position itself as a leader in your market.  Good is no longer good enough.  Good is a starting point; it doesn’t mean the exercise program for your members is complete. 

It’s time to do more than group fitness.

When prospective residents walk into your community for a tour, they see a welcoming, warm lobby area with social nooks for sharing a cup of coffee and the latest gossip or viral YouTube video.  On the tour, you show them contemporary dining venues with menus that make their mouths water. You talk about updated apartments, technology tools that help them stay connected to their family and the larger community.   

As the tour progresses through the community, you eventually arrive at the exercise room. (Or maybe you skip the exercise area because it doesn’t contribute positively to the lifestyle you’re selling.) And it looks old, maybe like an afterthought. The equipment is donated or dated, the artwork is original to the wall, the small collection of dumbbells have cracked vinyl or rusted edges, and the information on the bulletin boards is no longer current.  Worst of all, it’s a ghost town; no one is in there.

It’s a disconnect for the individuals on the tour.  And while that disconnect is real for your prospects today, it will be even more jarring for future prospects and adult children who are the savviest health consumers we’ve seen to date. Certainly, you can’t update all areas in your community at the same time, and there are many priorities ahead of the fitness space(s).  But that doesn’t mean a revitalization of the exercise program should be entirely off the table. 

You don’t necessarily need massive capital budgets to make improvements in your community fitness center.  And you don’t need to blow your operating budget to provide vibrant exercise-related programming to community.  But if you want to start using elements of your senior living programming to combat someday syndrome at your community, you absolutely have to do more than offer group fitness classes.

Find out how to do better for your residents.

Your prospects expect more than just classes on the calendar, your current residents deserve better, and NIFS can help you get there.  Find out more about how the right staff, the right services and the right equipment can positively and profoundly impact the exercise program you're offering your residents. Click below to find out more.

Senior Fitness

 

 

Topics: active aging senior living leading age

A Simple Walking Test to Predict Longevity in Seniors

If you follow our blog, you’ve no doubt figured out that we’re big fans of data. Our staff aren’t statisticians, but they do regularly measure the impact of their programming to better understand what’s working and why. They also do quite a bit of work gathering data with and for the individuals they serve; most commonly that information is gathered through a fitness evaluation.

Testing Senior Fitness

For our senior living clients, the Senior Fitness Test is the traditional tool we use. It includes assessments like a chair stand, a chair sit-and-reach, and a two-minute step test. (If you want a little bit deeper dive on assessments with older adults, read this article.)

It’s a quality series of tests that have been validated in the scientific literature, and the individual tests are safe to use on participants with a broad range of abilities. And it helps our staff set benchmarks with participants on their physical fitness. Sometimes it offers red flags that trigger a referral to therapy, but more often than not, it’s simply a starting point for the participant, and it offers an opportunity to establish fitness goals in connection with a personalized exercise program.

But many communities don’t have the benefit of a trained exercise specialist onsite, like NIFS staff, who can do that follow up with participants. Additionally, some equipment is required to perform the tests. Where budgets are a challenge, the equipment may not make it into the budget.

The Walking Speed Study

As it turns out, there may be another very simple way to look at assessments. Of course, the tests you give depend on what you want to measure, but if you’re looking for a way to measure longevity in your residents, a walking test may be all that’s needed. According to this study, walking speed may be a good predictor of life span across categories of age, race, and height, but it was found to be particularly useful at determining life expectancy for individuals who were functionally independent and who were older than age 75.

The study specifically looked at nine studies between 1986 and 2000 assessing community-dwelling adults age 65 or older. All participants had baseline gait speed data and were followed for 6 to 21 years. In clinical applications from this study, physicians working with older adults on treatment plans could use results of a simple walking-speed test to determine best course of treatment. But there are applications in your community setting as well.

Walking is a simple activity for most of us, but it requires the use of energy and the coordination of multiple systems within the body. Decreased mobility–gait speed–may be an indicator of a decline in those various systems and an overall decline in vitality for the individual. Thus, tracking changes in gait speed over time for your residents could allow your multidisciplinary team of community professionals to intervene as you start to track a decline for a particular resident.

You can download a simple toolkit for measuring gait speed here. With nothing more than a marked-off area, a stopwatch, and some math, you can be on your way to assessing your residents’ longevity.

Five Reasons to Choose NIFS

If you’re looking for more than a simple gait assessment to help your residents improve their fitness level, download our quick read below to see why senior living communities across the U.S. are partnering with NIFS to manage their fitness centers.

 

Topics: walking senior living senior fitness data longevity

Active Aging: Ten Ways for Seniors to Stay Active in the City

active_in_cityIf you live in a city, then you have your share of challenges when it comes to keeping fit.  Although so many things can be available at your fingertips, how do you successfully stay active?  Here are 10 ways to be fit in multiple wellness dimensions for seniors living in an urban area: 

  1. Stop to smell the flowers by walking around a park or botanical garden.  Research shows that green space and being outside can lower stress.  I’m not saying you have to hug a tree in appreciation…unless you want to.   
  2. Enjoy a cultural experience at a museum while racking up your steps.  Many cities house museums for art, science, history and much more!  This is a great excuse to check out the latest exhibit while stepping your way towards health.    
  3. Walk a pet.  Use a cute pooch as your excuse to get out and about on a regular basis.  Start slowly and increase your pace and/or distance over time!
  4. If you have access to a body of water, then try sailing, canoeing, or kayaking.  This can be a fun option to mix into your routine by getting out on the water.  Don’t forget to take pictures from that different point of view to show all of your friends!
  5. Take the stairs.  Stairs are everywhere throughout the city.  If this is a safe option for you, then challenge yourself with some stair routines.  Walk them, every-other step them, do sidesteps…be creative!  I usually do stairs while listening to Eye of the Tiger…and pretend I’m Rocky Balboa.
  6. Explore your city’s architecture and history.  Whether it’s on foot or on a bike, explore the ins and outs of your city while getting exercise.  More and more cities are offering bike rental services so if you don’t own a bike, then try renting one! 
  7. Participate in an organized race event.  Many cities host races of various lengths, causes and themes for you to participate in throughout the year.  Select a race with a meaningful cause to you and train accordingly.  This can also provide a target end-goal for your exercise regimen. 
  8. Attend festivals or street markets.  This will give you an opportunity to walk around and even pick up a few fresh treats while being social with a few hundred of your closest friends!
  9. Beat traffic by walking instead of driving.  Given the accessibility of many locations, try walking to and from appointments and events such as grocery stores, hair appointments, doctor’s appointments, dentists, and the theaters when appropriate.  This is a healthy option that is also good for the environment. 
  10. Try a Gentle Yoga or Tai Chi class!  Both of these classes are beneficial to seniors since they are gentle on joints, promote range of motion and target on balance improvement.  Some classes will even meet outside on nice days!

What ways have you found to be fit in your city?  Keep in mind these safety recommendations to optimize your overall wellness.  Don’t live in a city?  Watch for my next blog about Ways to Stay Fit in the Country! 

Exercise is important as we age, check out our quick read for more information and share with your loved ones to keep them active, click below!

Download now

Topics: active aging senior living exercise for elderly

What if: Occupancy and budget were not obstacles & you could focus on improving resident lifestyles?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well.  Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing.  We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, and/or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

seniorlivingwomentalkingWe do a lot of wellness consulting in senior living, and by “wellness”, I mean non-clinical, lifestyle-focused consulting.  For many of our clients, that consulting relationship involves a thorough review of their “activities” department; in other cases, it’s focused more on what’s happening with their exercise program.  Regardless of the original area of focus, we always arrive at the same point – building a strategy that allows the community to shift from filling a calendar toward supporting resident purpose and passion.

Often, when I talk with a client who thinks he’s interested in having us come onsite to consult, there’s a heavy discussion about cost.  And while I certainly understand a business’s sensitivity toward expenses, I often wonder:  If budget (and occupancy – the two are inextricably linked) was no obstacle, what would you be expecting from your activities department?

Leadership in senior living communities have a lot to focus on, and it makes sense that activities might not rank near the top.  In fact, it’s common for that department to be well-liked by residents and to be well rated on satisfaction surveys.  So no pain point exists because there doesn’t appear to be an issue.  The challenge with continuing to look the other way is two-fold:

  1. Your current residents may not realize what’s possible, so putting your faith in them to be your barometer for when something needs to change is ill-placed.  That is particularly true with activities because that area of your community traditionally bears out the 80/20 rule where 20% of your residents engage in 80% of the activities.  You are likely supporting the interests of a vocal minority in your community.  And the question becomes: What is your activities department developing to meet the needs and interests of the less-engaged majority? 
  2. The adult child knows better.  They are not content with bingo, cards, and trips to the theatre, and they won’t be fooled by a full calendar that lacks opportunities for them to live out passions, dreams, and purpose. 

If you think your programming is top notch and you perhaps just have an engagement challenge, take a look at our slideshare on how to get your residents to engage.

Get our Slideshare: Improve Resident Engagment

Maybe you know wellness is an important differentiator for your community, but you really feel compelled to nail down a more favorable and consistent occupancy rate before you begin fine tuning programming and other lighter elements at your community.  I can see why you’d adopt that philosophy, but before you stake your claim there, consider reading this blog on how and why wellness is an important differentiator for any community.

Think also about the long term investment of putting in some money up front on wellness consulting that breathes new life into your campus and creates a new outlook on how activities are developed and delivered.  It’s a chicken and egg debate but if a $5,000 investment could be an important step toward solidifying occupancy and thus improving your budget outlook, would that $5,000 be worth it?

Here’s our picture of what it means to do wellness better in senior living:

  • When you do wellness better, you have data your marketing and sales staff can work with to back up their stories with prospects about how fantastic it is to live well at your community. 
  • When you do wellness better, you have more diverse, robust, and life-enriching programming on your calendar that appeals to a wide audience. 
  • When you do wellness better in your community, you create natural bridges across departments for collaborative programming so that one over-worked activities director doesn’t have to do it all. 
  • When you do wellness better you understand individual resident passions and interests and incorporate those at the personal and program level to ensure opportunities where you residents can live with vitality in the ways that are true for them. 
  • When you do wellness better, you do so much more than fill a calendar.  You map out a program and service strategy, informed by data, resident interests, and past successes.

If you think your community may be falling short in one or more of those areas, check out what we have to offer in the way consulting to help you do wellness better.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Topics: senior wellness senior living senior living community wellness consulting what if resident wellbeing

Senior Living: Five Tips for a Restful Night Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important to all areas of your health. According to a study from Harvard Medical School, “Chronic sleep loss can contribute to health problems such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a decrease in the immune system’s power.” I know, if I don’t get enough sleep, it affects my mood and performance level.

Working at a senior living community, I am asked by residents, “how can you get the necessary sleep you need when you toss and turn and just don’t sleep well?” Some of the biggest concerns from seniors I hear about not sleeping well involve muscle cramps that wake them up, not being able to clear their minds to stay asleep and frequent trips to the restroom.  I believe there are 5 key ways to get a more restful night’s sleep. I’ve shared these with my residents and I hope they can work for you as well.

  1. senior_drinking_waterDrink Water Throughout the Day. When I am busy, I find I rarely get enough water throughout my day. By the time night comes, I am super thirsty. It is hard to get enough water close to bed. Not only that, if I drink a lot before bed, I find myself waking up to use the restroom, which interrupts my restful sleep. Another negative side effect to not drinking enough water is muscle cramps. Dehydration can increase the likelihood of muscle cramps while sleeping.
  2. Take a Warm Bath or Shower. I have heard this is because the warmth of the water increases your body temperature and when you sleep, your body temperature decreases. This may be true, but for me the reason a warm shower works is it relaxes my tight, tired muscles. The warmth releases tension and helps ease my aches and pains from daily activities and exercise.
  3. Stretch. This goes hand-in-hand with the warm shower. You can get a better night’s sleep when your muscles aren’t tight and painful. I have found light stretching in my bed before I close my eyes gets my body ready for sleep. I concentrate on lower body, hip, and back stretches. I hold each stretch for at least 30-60 seconds. I close my eyes, take long and deep breaths, and focus on relaxing the muscles as I stretch them.
  4. Breathe. This is very important while stretching, but deep breathing throughout the day also helps reduce stress. When I am frustrated or upset, taking three-four deep belly breaths helps me calm down and refocus. At night this deep breathing is good because it helps clear my mind. After I finish my stretching routine, I lie flat on my back with my eyes closed and focus on breathing. In yoga, this is called savasana or corpse pose. It is beneficial because it helps your memory, reduces heart rate and blood pressure, increases oxygen levels in your blood, reduces headaches, and helps improve your focus.
  5. Reduce the Distractions in your Bedroom. This is by far the hardest thing for me to practice. Turning off the TV, putting the book away, and not sleeping with my smart phone next to my bed have helped me go to sleep faster. Picking up my cell phone to check email, the weather, and social media means I stay awake longer than I need to. The noises and distractions can also interrupt restful sleep, so put them away.

Tonight, may you sleep soundly after a day of drinking water, taking a warm bath or shower, stretching, breathing, and relaxing without any distractions; Sweet Dreams!

Five Reasons to Choose NIFS

Topics: senior living wellness

What You Can Do to Keep Your Parents from Falling (Part 2 of 2)

senior_woman_balancingNow that the less obvious tips have been addressed in part 1 of this series, let’s dive into some physical approaches that you can guide your parents through. There are so many exercises that can be practiced in the comfort of their own home to improve stabilization, gain independence, and build confidence. Our last, but certainly not least, tip:

Get your parents active! Talk with your parents about what they are currently doing to stay active, whether it’s a lifestyle activity, like gardening, or an intentional exercise such as strength training. It is important for your parents to stay active through all areas of wellness, but for now, let’s focus on the physical to keep your parents from falling. Here are some exercises that you can coach your parents through to help with fall prevention:

  • One-Leg Stance: Stand  on one leg at a time for 20 seconds and then gradually increase the time as it becomes more comfortable. Start by holding on, and then try to balance with  your eyes closed or without holding on.
  • Tandem Stance (Heel to Toe): Stand on your toes for a count of 5, and then rock back on your heels for a count of 5. When comfortable, progress to a count of 10. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
  • Hip Circles: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your hips. Make a big circle to the left with your hips, and then to the right. Repeat 10 times.
  • Abdominal Squeezes: Sit forward on a chair and sit up straight with shoulders back. Tighten your stomach for a count of 2 and relax. Repeat this 30 times, rest for 1 minute, and repeat 2 times.
  • Sit-to-Stand: Start by sitting in a hard, upright chair (like a breakfast or dining room chair) with your feet hip-width apart, ankles right below your knees, and toes pointing straight forward. Reach your hands out in front of you or place your arms across your chest and stand up. Then return to a sitting position. Make sure that you sit slowly and do not “plop down” in the chair. If needed, you can use the arms of the chair but focus on using your lower-body strength to stand upright. Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions. 
  • Tandem Walk: First, find a place where you can take forward steps with something next to you that can give touch support, like a countertop or the back of a couch. Start with your feet together with your side to the support surface. Standing tall, take forward heel-to-toe steps as if you were walking on a balance beam. Take 10 steps or walk until the end of your support surface, whichever comes first. Once you feel more comfortable with this, challenge yourself by walking heel-to-toe backward! Repeat 2 times.
  • Balance Stance with Eyes Closed: Stand with your feet together and arms across the chest. Keeping a tall posture, close your eyes and hold this position for about 20 seconds. As this gets easier, progress by increasing the amount of time by 5-second intervals.

If these exercises are too much at once, just pick a few to get your parents started. Once they are comfortable with that, begin introducing more at an appropriate pace. If they need to rely on holding onto a handle or surface to try these exercises, especially in the beginning, that is perfectly fine. Their safety comes first, but remember: falls can be prevented! What are you doing to help prevent your loved ones from falling?

Watch the Video: The Balance Challenge

Topics: senior living balance fall prevention balance training exercise for elderly