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I hope you had a terrific July 4th! In the spirit of staying independent as we age and helping our parents stay strong and independent as well,  here is part 2 of our Q and A from last week — >

Q&A: I’m worried about my parents, and how they struggle to get around and do basic things. Can they be helped? What’s the simplest way to get them started?

Part 1 is HERE with where to start. Now for the next steps…..

Exercises Two and Three:

If you trust your folks to remember and execute more, here are the next two things I’d add in descending order.

#2. Up and down plank

What is it? You get down into a plank, and then stand back up. 

Why?
·     Getting up and down off the floor it too hard for too many people, and this is unsafe.  We all need to get stuff off the floor, and we all fall down, so we all need to be able to get back up.  This will only get worse with avoidance.

·     Improved vestibular function – they’ll get less dizzy and disoriented with changes of levels of their eyes if they do things where they move their head up and down in space.  Again, this only gets worse with avoidance.

How?
·     In the beginning, getting up and down off the floor can be too exhausting, so you find out what they can do right now.  This could be something as high as a table, or as low as an ottoman.
·     Specifically, get down and hold for 10 seconds, then get up.  Repeat 10 times to start, and work for 20, and then work to lower and lower objects.
·     On your hands is easier than on your forearms because you will be higher.  We do want them to eventually get to the floor.

#3. Toe and heel raises

What is it?  Regaining the strength and control of your feet, ankles and legs.

Why?
·     Stop tripping over things.  If you can’t pick up your toes, then you’ll catch your toes on small objects or bumps and fall.

·     Stop falling to the side: when our feet and calfs get weak we lose the ability to easily lift our heels off the ground.  We compensate for this via “the cowboy shuffle” – super wide feet, and a side to side waddle instead of walking.  The cowboy shuffle is really falling to your left, and catching yourself, then falling to your right and catching yourself.  Terrified yet?  Stronger feet and calfs can fix this.

How?
·     Toe raise:

o   lean on the wall, with your heels about 6” from the wall.

o   Straighten your knees, and keep them straight the whole time. 

o   Now lift your toes as high off floor as possible.  Pause and lower slowly. 

o   Work up to 20-30.  This should burn the front of your shins.  Easier is heels closer to wall and vice versa.
·     Heel raises:

o   Opposite of above. Face wall so you can grab if you lose balance. 

o   Straighten your knees, and keep them straight the whole time. 

o   Now lift your heels as high off floor as possible.  Pause and lower slowly. 

o   Work up to 20-30.  This should burn the calfs.  The higher you go the harder it is.  You can also hold a weight in one hand.

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