Submitted by Dr. Jennifer Penrose for Penrose & Associates Physical Therapy

As a physical therapist board certified in orthopedics for over 20 years and my clinic specializing in the 50+ crowd I have some key takeaways for keeping your independence and mobility.

Are you afraid of losing your independence?

The number one threat to losing your independence is a fall.  How confident are you with your balance? If you feel like your balance is only fair or even poor than you are headed towards losing your independence and mobility. 

Tip #1: Make sure you can do this

Can you balance on one leg on an uneven surface like a foam pad/cushion for at least 20 seconds with your eyes closed?  If you cannot do this for 20 seconds you are at 3x greater risk for falling. I highly recommend that you start physical therapy immediately for risk of falls.  You will find out if you have weak hips, weak core, and what strategies you need to work on for improving your balance. 

Tip #2: Ensure that you can get up and off the floor safely

Did you know that if you are not found within the first hour after a fall the mortality rates of surviving past six months are not in your favor? Work with a physical therapist on safe strategies to get down to the floor and back up. There are multiple ways to do this.  You may also need to work on more basic strength activities before we can actually work on getting on the floor. 

Tip #3: Ensure that you can do stairs and squats

I have found it interesting that more and more people are buying ramblers to avoid stairs.  I can understand wanting the bedroom on the main floor in the event that you have a surgery to recover from it makes life easier. However, eliminating stairs from your everyday life makes me wonder about leg strength opportunities that you would get with stairs. Make sure you find other leg strengthening options – and not just walking. More squats! Yes, everyone should be able to squat for the rest of time. You have to use a toilet and get in and out of chairs and in and out of cars last time I checked – those are all variations of “squats.” Commit to leg strengthening if you want to keep your independence and mobility. If it hurts your knees then you need to work with a therapist that knows how to show you how to do stairs/squats using more of your hips vs your knees. There are tips and tricks to this I promise.

Tip #4: Make sure you can do push-ups

This is a very functional activity. Think of all the things you need to push: heavy doors, carts, getting up from the bed or floor, pushing up off a low chair or toilet seat. Push-ups can start very simply at the wall, then to counter height, chair height and eventually floor. There are ways to progress any and every exercise and ways to make it easier. The key is to work with someone who can modify and push you at the appropriate time and level.

If you have any trouble with those items above your independence and mobility is at risk.  I highly recommend you schedule with a qualified physical therapist. Penrose Physical Therapy is a place where we listen to the patient and design one on one treatments with licensed therapists to address your goals and concerns in order to keep you independent and mobile enjoying your life for years to come.  We love working with the 50+ person who truly values their health. 

The author, Jennifer Penrose, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and owner of Penrose Physical Therapy. She is also the author of “Run Forever. The secrets to common running and walking Injuries.” She also hosts the Stay Healthy South Sound Podcast with tips to stay healthy interviewing patients, providers, and other fitness experts in the area. Visit www.penrosept.com for more free tips and information.

If you have any questions, you can call or text 360.456.1444 or email info@penrosept.com. Located at 1445 Galaxy Dr. Suite 301 Lacey, WA 98516.

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