Use It or Lose It: Range of Motion Exercises Can Prevent Falls for Older Adults

By Laura Paredes-Oldaker
CEO of Academy for Caregiving Excellence

Have you ever bent down for a minute only to get up and have your muscles cramp or hurt? or squat down and hear your knees crack? You are not alone! This ailment affects people of all ages- Lack of strengthening exercises, and not doing constant stretches can lead joints and muscles to become weak, older adults are particularly affected and can be manifested by lack of balance, leading to falls, muscle stiffness, and joint pain. Rage of motion exercises can be a solution to this problem. There are approximately 700 muscles, 360 joints, 900 ligaments, and over 205 bones in the human body, they all need a little TLC but mostly, and this is where the saying applies, usage.

There is a direct relationship between muscle strength, flexibility, and balance leading to those not habitually exercising to constant falls, which for a frail older adult can be devastating.

Range of motion exercises (ROM) can help with all of these, regardless of your age, but especially those over the age of 75. These types of exercises are easy, simple, and almost anyone can do them! ROM are a great tool for anyone providing care and assistance to an elderly person, as it can help keep muscles strong without the use of any resistance training or fancy exercise equipment.

When would you do ROM exercises? the answer is simple: Daily! you can set up a routine that is 15-30 minutes, and that you can do even while watching TV or in your favorite lounge chair!

Following these steps can help you be successful with ROM:
Set up a routine: Decide what days of the week you or the person you are caring for will be exercising (e.i. Monday-Wednesday-Friday) start slow and progressively add more days. Determine how long your routine will be; 15 minutes is usually a good place to start, but remember the key is completing the sets and not just “doing the time” each set should take 2-4 minutes.

Plan on mixing it up! Each day you should do upper and lower body exercises (for more details, please visit academyforcaregiving.com and download our illustrated guide How to perform Range of Motion Exercises) a combination of 4 sets with 15 repetitions each of exercises and stretches can be very helpful in keeping weakening muscles and joints strong and help prevent falls. and don’t forget the other side!

Listen to your body (or the person you are performing ROM on) are they grimacing or straining themselves? do not force your muscles or joint, only do what you can tolerate as you can build endurance each day.

For more information on how to provide care for a loved one or to become a professional caregiver, please visit our website www.academyforcaregiving.com or call us today at 520-338-4402.