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Loss of mobility in aging adults can be a damaging cycle: the less an individual moves his/her body, the less agile the body becomes.
Help your aging loved one build strength, flexibility, balance and confidence through a combination of seated, standing and water exercises.
Aging can lead to mobility changes due to a number of factors, ranging from joint pain to neurological conditions. If your loved one is having trouble walking or getting in and out of bed, this can result in a lack of confidence and increased dependence.
Falls are a particularly significant mobility-related problem for seniors. Not only do falls lead to broken bones and hospitalizations, but they are also connected to heightened mortality rates. When a fear of falling sets in, many individuals being to avoid activity altogether as a way of protect themselves from future incidents.
This creates a cycle of inactivity that ultimately leads to decreased independence. In short, while a decline in mobility is often a natural part of the aging process, preventative measures can help minimize detrimental effects.
Chair exercises are a great starting point for seniors who are weak or low on confidence. Begin with simple shoulder raises to stretch the shoulders, back and neck: shrug both shoulders upward, then slowly lower to a neutral position.
Alternating bent-knee leg lifts as well as alternating straight leg lifts can help strengthen thigh muscles.Ten reps of each exercise offer plenty of stretching benefits while helping your loved one warm up their muscles.
If your aging loved one feels comfortable enough to stand, try these techniques using a sturdy chair for balance. Calves and ankles can be strengthened by pushing up to tiptoes then back down to flat feet facing the chair for support.
Squats promote flexibility and strength training at any age, but seniors may benefit from a modified version, which uses a chair as support. Rather than lowering to a point of discomfort, squat just enough to touch the seat.
Extra support can be added with pillows or books. Squats can also be practiced by standing behind a chair and lowering down to a seated position.
Water offers an ideal low impact workout for seniors, minimizing the chanceof injuries while utilizing the body's natural buoyancy. Marching in place with high knees builds strength while opening up the hips. Seniors can also repeat the standing exercises with the added resistance of water.
Before starting any exercise routine, consult with your aging loved one’s physician who may recommend a specific exercise regimen. If your parent is resistant to working out, a physical therapist can offer a winning combination of experience and motivation.
Seniors who have already adopted a regular exercise program may enjoy a customized group class focused on developing mobility and strength. Check with local churches, community centers, and senior living facilities to find out about upcoming offerings.
A safe setting is essential when beginning a fitness regimen. Be aware of any potential obstacles and hazards in the space which could cause trips or falls. Also, if it’s hot outside, keep watch for signs of dehydration.
Lastly, remember to be patient. Your aging loved one may be feeling a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and confusion. Your support and encouragement is vital to successfully helping your loved one regain mobility...and the confidence that goes along with it.
My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!
Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.