when I train older adults, I tend to start with lower body strengthening exercises after an appropriate assessment. Depending on the conditioning level of the client, I may move towards balance exercises such as split stances, one leg stands, step up exercises to different step heights.
When I progress to any balance exercises themselves, I create a very safe environment with bars on all sides to minimize the risk on one hand but also give the client a sense of security. I also try, if at all possible, to teach people how get up from the floor so that they have a strategy to do it if a fall has occurred.
I do not let the age itself guide my programming but the ability level. I have clients who may – chronologically – be classified as older adults but who enjoy challenges with Bosus and balls like people many years their juniors.
Like all of our clients, the elderly ones come to us with a wide-variety of capabilities and limitations. I try to treat each older person that I work with as an individual. That being said, I think that the methodology that I use to work on each elderly client’s balance is as varied as they are. You can go from the very simple (e.g. standing and simply shifting from one foot to the other) to the more complex (e.g. single leg stand with a ‘star pattern’ with the free leg, or even uneven surface work such as wobble board).
Safety first should be the mantra of working with the elderly on balance, BUT don’t be afraid to give them a challenge as well.
I hope that this helps. Good luck!
For balance work I like to implement oppositional pattern of movement, staggered stance, vision challenges (dimming eyes instead of closing them). I also like to use verbal cuing and reactionary drills such as ball toss while counting backwards.
I attempt to work each plane of the body as often as possible.
Balance is crucial for all ages.
The answers are all excellent. I agree with Karin that initially focusing on lower body strength is an important way to start with a clien, following an appropriate assessment of lower body stregth and balance is also critical. The exercises suggested are all great.
As with most exercisers, some exercises you clients will like and some they won’t. For the most part, find the exercises that are most comfortable and stick with them. As their strength and balance improve your clients may find that movements previously uncomfortable are now accomplished with ease.
Take care, good luck.