Managing Elderly Mobility with a Physiotherapist

Posted by Shermaine Goh on

We would like to thank K.H Poon Physiotherapy and their team for taking time out of their schedule to do this interview. 

1. Could you share some simple exercises of activities that seniors can do to slow down the loss of mobility?

Sit to Stand
This is a great modification on the squat, which is a body weight lower limb exercise. It helps to strength extensor muscles of the hips, thighs, calves and improves balance. This exercise also mimicks the daily activity of sitting on and standing from a chair or bed.
  • Sit on the edge of a chair. Keep your feet hip-width apart and cross your arms across your chest.
  • Lean your body slightly forward and rise up to standing
  • In a controlled manner, lower your buttock down to the chair, bending through the hips and knees
  • Repeat 10x 3 sets (rest for 1 minute between sets or until you have caught your breath)
 

Easy

Harder (progression)

1.     Support: use the arms of the chair

2.     Depth: use a slightly higher chair

3.     Weight: bodyweight

1.     Support: cross your arms across your chest

2.     Depth: use a slightly lower chair

3.     Weight: carry a bag of rice, adjusting the weight to your tolerance

 

Seated Knee Extension
 
It is even better if an ankle weight is used. An improved ankle weight can be made with small cloth bags of beans or rice which can be strapped around the ankle. This exercise isolates the quadriceps, which is the big muscle in the front of the thighs that is responsible for standing, walking, squatting and kneeling.
 
  • Sit upright on the edge of a chair. Place your feet flat on the ground.
  • Straighten one knee (you should feel the quadriceps of that thigh tense up).
  • Hold the position for 5-10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position by slowly bending the knee back down.
  • Repeat 10x.
  • Repeat this for the other leg.
  • Do 3 sets on each leg (rest for 1 minute between sets for each leg)
Marching
This exercise helps with balance by encouraging brief moments of single leg balancing while keeping the body moving and adjusting its centre of gravity. 
    • Stand upright. You can position yourself near a wall or table for safety.
    • Lift one foot off the ground to knee height, maintain your balance, then set it back down
    • Repeat with the other foot
    • Repeat this cycle for 30 seconds 

2. Are there also exercises to improve hand dexterity?

Keeping up with chores such as wiping, hanging up the laundry and opening jars and bottles can encourage ongoing functional use of the hand. Performing some simple exercises can maintain the strength, range of motion and dexterity of the hand and fingers, and only requires some playdough, blue tac or putty, and rubber bands. Such exercises aim to train certain functional uses of the hand which are required in daily life, such as handling cutlery and holding the umbrella.
 
Another useful exercise is to practice picking up and collecting coins of varying sizes in the palm of the hand, much like counting out loose change. This helps with manipulation and finer control of the hand.

3. Why is it important for seniors to maintain their mobility?

To maintain current mobility, or even increase mobility, can improve many of the adverse effects associated with decreased strength and mobility. Mobility reduces muscle loss and fall risk, maintains independence and improves quality of life. As mentioned earlier, resistance training is also important in addition to simply remaining mobile, to maintain and improve physical strength, independence and quality of life. 

4. Feel free to add any other information you would like to share with our readers.

I find that it is really important for one to understand the need for, and thus embrace an outlook of active ageing. When we educate ourselves on the ills of deterioration, and the benefits of being active and mobile in our older age, it becomes internalised knowledge and beliefs. Having intrinsic motivations to live a healthy and mobile lifestyle is the most essential factor that will largely determine one’s approach to ageing. So this education must start early, so that it becomes a lifestyle. 
Some of my peers have developed the habit of performing an exercise routine each morning. Having integrated exercise into daily life, it becomes a regular activity that benefits their physical health which does not take much effort to turn to. One may find it much easier to carry on existing behaviours rather than to make a drastic change later on. Having a consistent approach to being active and mobile means that it will be more likely to be maintained through all seasons of life.
However, that being said, it is never too late to form good attitudes or habits towards supporting an enduring active lifestyle. Ageing well is a life-long process, and when any kind of change is underscored by a deeper personal understanding and belief, it becomes more a pleasure than a chore!
Read Part 1 of our interview with K.H Poon Physiotherapy.
Find out more about K.H Poon Physiotherapy and their services HERE.

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