Strength exercises require a muscle to produce force, resulting in a feeling of exertion or strain. Strengthening exercises typically improve the ability to lift and move things—including your body. Examples of strength exercises include squats, leg extensions and heel raises.
Older adults are those 65+ years of age. The loss of skeletal muscle is part of the normal aging process and noted as a primary factor in diminished activity of daily living (ADL) performance. Research has consistently shown that older adults can improve strength with adherence to an exercise routine. Additionally, exercises need to be carried out to the point of fatigue in order to show positive changes in strength.
Strength is improved by challenging the body to exert higher amounts of force. This challenge occurs by either lifting the same amount of weight more times or by increasing the amount of weight lifted. Because heavy weights can be dangerous, increasing the number of times a weight is lifted (repetitions) is the preferred way to progress strengthening exercises for novice exercisers.
Strengthening exercises are progressed first by increasing repetitions and sets before increasing the intensity. The following progression sequence is recommended for initial strengthening exercises:
Falls occur for a wide variety of reasons: leg weakness; poor balance; diminished eyesight; environmental hazards; cardiovascular problems; etc. Not to be overlooked, falls can be caused by simply trying to do something beyond your ability level. This often occurs because a patient thinks because they could something in the past, they should be able to still do it in the present. A quick example is my uncle trying to roller skate at age 70 because he was able to at age 50. It didn’t go well and he fell – really hard! He said trying to roller skate after 20 years was “dumb” – another way of saying it was beyond his ability level. Use the following list of risky behaviors to help educate your patients on what not to do:
1. Walking without a cane or walker when one is needed.
2. Climbing on chair or stool to reach high shelves.
3. Hurrying when walking – common among patients with short windows between need to use bathroom and using bathroom.
4. Carrying big or heavy objects.
5. Walking in areas that are poorly lit.
6. Bending over to pick up a coin off the ground.
The following tips are a collection of low and no cost suggestions to preventing falls (please feel free to add additional ideas in the comments section below):
- Remove throw rugs throughout the house with two exceptions – keep a throw rug in good condition (edges not turned up) that won’t slide around (rubber lined) outside of your shower and by the kitchen sink. They will absorb water and keep the floor from becoming slippery.
- Clear out clutter. Stacks of reading materials, piles of laundry, or collections of unneeded furniture are trip hazards. Clearing a path that is 36” wide, leaves enough room to easily maneuver your walker or wheelchair. Make sure there is enough room to navigate around corners, through doorways, and in and out of the bed or shower.
- Cords and tubes need to be bound together, placed out of walkways, and secured close to walls. If on oxygen, choose better-contrasting colored oxygen tubes to improve visibility. Hang cords or tubes over doorways, if possible, to eliminate them as potential trip hazards.
- Pets can trip you. Anticipate erratic behavior when new faces are in the house. Use of proper lighting, including nightlights, will help you see pets sleeping in walkways. Also remember to hold onto sturdy object when bending over to feed and water pets. If choosing a new pet, pick one that does not have a “herding” tendency.
- Set up your bed side table with a light (flashlight), phone, and clock.