Full disclosure, this next part is stuff that I learned from Dan John, so in no way shape or form am I claiming credit for coming up with this idea... but its awesome and 100% applicable to older individuals.
The foundation for this exercise series is simple, if you were to have someone sit on the floor, in an ideal world where they are healthy and active, they should be able to go from sitting to standing without using their hands. Try it out. Most of us will play around with it until we think about sitting cross legged and then from there, pushing our feet into the ground to drive ourselves to standing. If that is too hard, usually one hand will be used or a hand and a knee on the way up. This is not a bad thing, but definitely not ideal as it speaks to weakness in the hip, the more hands and knees used, the weaker the hips. So why is this important in older individuals? Weak hips leads to poor postural control which can increase the risk of falling which can lead to falls... think LifeAlert commercials. So we want to make sure our clients are not the poster people of "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up." Here's a fun way to work on that.
Start with your client laying down on their back, then, once they are there, have them stand up. Once they are standing, have them lay back down. Once they are laying down, have them stand up.... notice a pattern here? Repeat that sequence between 6-8 times. Next have them take a hand and put it on their opposite shoulder then repeat the process of laying down and getting up. After that switch hands and, once both sides are done, have them put a hand on the ipsilateral (same side) knee and repeat the exercise.
This is so childishly simple that to call it an "exercise" might almost be insulting to some people, but consider this. If you were to have your client go through the progression I just laid out, they would have completed 30-40 repetitions of going to the ground and coming back to their feet, a majority of which would be completed with some sort of limb restriction (and not to mention an elevated heart rate.. cardio anyone?). The biggest fear/goal that most of my older clients have center around being on the ground. They want to be able to play with their grandkids and roll around on their level, but to then also be able to get back up ON THEIR OWN, not getting stuck waiting for assistance. Same with falling, fall victims and those at risk of falling are scared, not so much by the fall itself, but by the potential helplessness following the fall. With this progression of exercise you are allowing them to practice leaving the ground (and going down safely) multiple times in an environment where they have permission to experiment, to try out different strategies for getting back on their feet. Empowering our clients is part of our goals as coaches and trainers, here is a simple way to empower them.
Thoughts? Comments? Let me know!