In Ontario, June is Senior’s Month! This year's theme is stay safe, stay in touch. It is a time when we recognize the contributions that older adults have made in communities across our province.
A way to stay safe is to keep your body healthy and strong! As a Kinesiologist, I help seniors to improve and maintain their physical abilities through therapeutic exercise. I work with clients with all levels of ability in their home! That’s right, I come to you!
After an assessment I will create a therapeutic exercise plan that is unique to you using your goals and needs as the leader! Together we work through this plan to improve your balance, strength, mobility and ultimately improve your activities of daily living (ADLs) and independence.
When moving becomes easier and less worrisome for clients and their families, the more enjoyment they can feel in day to day activities!
Just like the Canadian Food Guide, we also have Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. It's important at every age to be physically active. From infants to older adults! The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) developed these guidelines to help Canadians know what and how much exercise we need each day or week at each stage of our lives.
We are going to talk about what is recommended for older adult but you can view all the guidelines at csepguidelines.ca
For everyone over 18 years of age it’s recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per week - that's about 20min per day
This does not mean that it must be 150 consecutive minutes. Bouts of 10 minutes or more is great! We want to include muscle and bone strengthening activities as well as cardiovascular and balance work.
There are many benefits to being physically active. Older adults (64 +years) who are physically active are less likely to develop numerous types of chronic disease like: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain cancers, dementia, disability, and loss of function! They are also more likely to maintain their functional independence and mobility, improve their fitness, improve or maintain their body weight, maintain bone health and mental health. And they are more likely to feel better overall!
Having good balance is important at every age but as we get older, our balance can deteriorate. It’s not only about having balance to stand and walk but also how you recover from getting ‘off-balance’. If you get bumped, do you have a balance strategy to step forward or reach out to catch yourself or are you not able to and so, you have a fall?
There are a few different types of balance. 1- static balance; are you able to stand still without support, on one foot, with your eyes closed? 2 -Dynamic balance; are you able to walk and carry a bag, reach for something that fell on the floor? 3 -Reactive balance; if you get bumped can you recover?
We may not think too much about our balance in everyday life when we are young but as we age, any issues in our balance will become more pronounced. Most injuries that older Canadians experience are a result of a fall. Falls cause the majority of hip fractures. Half of all falls that result in a hospital stay happen at home. 20-30% of seniors experience one or more falls each year.
O boy! That is not very good news!
Prevention is key! How can falls be prevented? There are some common risk factors that are associated with falls. They are:
the fear of falling
limitations in mobility and undertaking the activities of daily living
impaired walking patterns (gait)
reduced muscle strength
poor reaction times
use of multiple medications
The good news is that with a therapeutic exercise program, we can address most of those risk factors! Exercise may improve walking patterns, balance, muscle strength, and reaction time. By improving these things, confidence in abilities may increase and in turn we may be able to decrease the fear of falling as well!
Another factor is the environment. If there are objects that could cause someone to trip or force an unfamiliar movement pattern, this can increase the risk of falling as well.
Here are some tips for your environment to help in preventing a fall:
Make sure floors are clear and there is enough space around coffee tables and chairs in order to move around without bumping into or tripping over anything
Have non-slip surfaces in the tub or shower. You could also consider having a shower chair so you can sit while in the shower.
Have handrails on both sides of stairwells and take your time going up and down the stairs
Wearing shoes to help with gripping the floor
Keeping your body strong and your balance in check will not only help in preventing a fall but can help you to recover faster.
Earlier, I mentioned activities of daily living. Let me elaborate on this. Activities of Daily Living or ADLs include acts that we do in our day to day life - walking, transferring in/out of a chair or bed, personal hygiene, showering/bathing, toileting, dressing, and feeding one’s self.
When we are healthy and young, these activities are effortless and are done without thinking twice about it. But for seniors these activities can become much more difficult. If they are unable to do these things on their own, living independently becomes much more difficult. This might result in a move to a retirement, assisted living or even a long term care home before they want to.
These may sound like simple tasks but as we age and/or our abilities decline, these tasks become much more difficult. Being able to stand up from a chair, moving around on the bed, reaching behind your back, reaching behind your head, dexterity of your hands, balance, agility, grip strength and so on. All these things contribute to your ability to perform ADLs.
How can I help?
As a Registered Kinesiologist, I will perform an assessment that would include a physical assessment and also an assessment of the environment. I create a purposeful, individualized exercise prescription to increase strength, balance and endurance as well as make recommendations on how to adapt the living space to lessen the risk of falling.
Interested in learning more? Contact me through my contact page or book a Discovery Call!
With a Kin, you can!