Functional Fitness – Assisting Seniors at Home

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) is a term health professionals use to describe an individual’s daily self-care activities. They use it as a measure of your functional status to assess how fit you are to stay in your home. There are six ADLs including bathing or showering, dressing, self-feeding, personal hygiene and grooming, toilet hygiene, and functional mobility (the ability to move yourself from one place to another).

“The most important is functional mobility, also called transferring and mobilizing,” says Johanna Booy, CEO of Care and Company – a home care company committed to assisting elders to stay at home and recover from major surgery.

“Without functional mobility, you’re not going to be able to go down to the dining room to eat, or get out of bed to get to the bathroom to do your toileting, or dress yourself. All the other ADLs are dependent on your strength; functional strength.”

Stay in the home you love longer

The biggest advantage of being a functionally fit person is that you get to stay in your own home as long as possible,” says Johanna.

When a discussion group at Minton House were asked about staying home, they unanimously agreed it was their top priority. They wanted to sleep in their own bed, eat their own meals, be free to make choices and remain independent. One resident responded that she liked her home because “I’m familiar with my surroundings.” Her neighbor agreed. He said, “I can do what I want to do when I want to do it.”

As we grow older, remaining independent really comes down to your functional fitness. You need to stay strong. The good news is, with a little commitment and help, you can maintain, even regain your functional strength. “Whatever activity you do, there is an exercise that will target the muscles and joints required to do the activity and enable you to do them longer,” says Johanna.

Fall Prevention

One of the thing that happens when your balance deminishes is a tendency to shuffle in order to try and keep your feet close to the ground.

“Every time you strike your heel on the floor, it impacts the bones and builds density. Shuffling does nothing for the bone. If you’re going to walk properly, you need to utilize an even pattern of heel to toe,” says Johanna.

The exercises Care & Company employ helps you to establish a regular gait pattern and increase your balance.   “That’s the whole reason for these exercises, so that the neural muscular facilitation takes place between the muscles messaging the brain and the brain gives feedback to the muscles.”

Picking Yourself Up

Falling is dangerous, but getting stranded on the floor after a fall can be deadly. Care & Company has a solution.

“While I certainly don’t recommend any exercises from the floor, I do show you how to get up off the floor, because many people who fall don’t have any way to get up off the ground. I teach a couple of very simple ways to get up again,” says Johanna.  And there are some fine exercises which target the upper body and legs to assist with the push up off the floor.

In Home Chair Exercises

Even if you have difficulty standing, you can do many of these exercises from the comfort of your own chair and reap the benefits of increased strength.

Recover from surgery and hospital visits more quickly

If you undergo hip or knee replacement surgery, the exercise program you should do post-surgery is very comprehensive. These post-surgery exercises are extremely important. If you don’t do them, the muscles targeted in the surgery will atrophy.

When you leave the hospital, the outpatient program that sets you up with exercises sincerely hope you will continue to follow-up in the  community where you have the support of friends and qualified personnel to assist you.

Seniors are into fitness for a completely different reason. They want to recover from surgery, focus on balance issues to prevent falling and make sure old injuries don’t come back to haunt them.

At Senior Care Victoria, we enable you to stay at home as long as possible. Our in-home exercise program incorporates cardiovascular and strength training and specific exercises for balance and core strength.