When Home Health Isn’t Enough to Reduce Rehospitalizations

A bad fall can happen to anyone. Just one wrong step can lead to a devastating injury that requires a trip to the hospital, especially for older adults. In fact, one out of every four seniors fall every year, leading to about 800,000 hospitalizations annually. After being discharged, fall-related injuries are also the third most common cause of hospital readmission for older adults, according to a 2019 study.

The good news for senior living communities is that 20-30% of older adult falls in long-term care facilities are preventable. A major factor is whether the community offers a strong continuum of care from home health to outpatient rehab. Home health alone can help residents get back on their feet, but fall risk can still be high without ongoing therapy. That’s why an experienced physical therapy partner who offers a full continuum of care is essential to helping residents stay on their feet and in their community for as long as possible.

“Home health is great, but it often isn’t enough,” says Michel Weaver, vice president of Ageility Physical Therapy Solutions. “An outpatient plan of care following a home health episode of care brings an individual a more durable therapy outcome.”

The Missing Link in the Continuum of Care? Outpatient Rehab

Many senior living communities have multiple home health partners who provide skilled nursing care. Once a resident’s medical needs are addressed, though, outpatient rehab is key to finishing the recovery process so the resident can fully reengage with their lifestyle. If outpatient rehab isn’t available, residents can remain at a high risk of falls and ending up back in the hospital.

That gap in a community’s continuum of care is where Ageility’s full range of therapy services—including outpatient rehab—fits right in. The results speak for themselves. Communities who have partnered with Ageility have seen a 36% reduced rate of falls. That means fewer residents returning to the hospital and more living life to the fullest in their community.

Here’s what a resident’s journey to full recovery might look like with Ageility:

  1. The resident is discharged from the hospital after a hip fracture and returns to the community requiring acute nursing care.
  2. Ageility’s licensed therapists provide initial therapy while nursing care is provided until the resident reaches a stable level of health.
  3. The same Ageility team of therapists then provides outpatient therapy until the resident reaches their best possible potential.
  4. The resident may then engage with Ageility’s fitness program to continue to build strength and conditioning and maintain their independence for as long as possible.

“You want that same therapist who’s going to know the residents and be able to pull them through the full continuum of care,” says Grace Davenport, Ageility’s Eastern Divisional Director of Rehabilitation. “The goal is partnering with the communities on what the best route to recovery is for each individual resident.”

An On-Site Partner Who Knows Your Residents

We don’t just partner with communities. We’re also on-site, which means we get to know your residents and are there through every step of their recovery. Getting set up is easy. Our fully equipped clinics can be up and running in the community within 60 days. Set up itself can be done in one day with little to no help needed from your team thanks to our white glove service. As a certified Medicare provider, Ageility also takes care of insurance billing and recruitment, so you have more time to spend with residents.

Residents also benefit. With clinics located inside the community, residents can see a therapist whenever they need whether they’re recovering from an accident or just want to be more active. “The Ageility clinic itself is also a valuable amenity for people considering moving into a senior living community,” says Weaver.

Growing Your Competitive Advantage

A strong continuum of care requires collaboration. When communities partner with Ageility, residents achieve the best results thanks to a therapy team that’s there for every step of the recovery process. As people age, the risks of illness and fall-related injuries grows. A full continuum of care provider like Ageility reduces that risk—and grows your competitive advantage—by guiding residents from home health to outpatient rehab to full recovery, helping them stay out of the hospital and in the community they call home.

“Our outcomes are about people being engaged in whatever is meaningful in their lives,” says Weaver. “By having a continuum of care right there within your community, you have a solid partner who’s there to help every resident reach their full potential.”

To learn more about how Ageility can partner with your home health provider to create a full continuum of care in your community and reduce rehospitalizations, contact [email protected] for more info or search for an Ageility location near you.

Physical Therapy for Seniors FAQs

Accidents happen. It could be a bad swing at the links, a wrong step during a morning jog or just a slip in the kitchen. Older individuals recovering from surgery, injuries or extended periods of little to no exercise are often more prone to injury or re-injury, particularly fall-related injuries due to struggles with strength and balance.

The words “physical therapy” likely bring up images of a long, painstaking process that’s only helpful for those in recovery. The most effective physical therapy, though, is both reactive and proactive. That’s why Ageility offers not just recovery interventions, but also prevention and fitness training in its clinics.

Prevention helps older adults avoid falls and other catastrophic events, while fitness training helps older adults stay active for as long as possible—even to the point of achieving goals they’ve had all their lives like running a marathon. Not sure if Ageility physical therapy is right for you or your loved one? These answers to five of the most common questions about physical therapy for seniors can help you make the most informed decision.

What does a physical therapist (PT) do?

Though PTs are sometimes confused for personal trainers, they do far more by helping you develop a plan of care to address injury, weakness and other movement impairment. PTs must be state-licensed to practice and most hold advanced degrees, including doctorates. That education allows them to determine the cause of problems and create customized treatment plans based on recovery or prevention. For seniors in the Ageility program, these might include orthopedic rehabilitation, strength training, aquatic therapy or arthritic pain management. No matter the treatment, Ageility’s physical therapists share: optimizing movement so clients can live life to the fullest.

How does physical therapy help seniors?

It doesn’t matter if you’re already in great shape or require rehabilitation after orthopedic surgery, physical therapy can help older adults maintain their independence for as long as possible. That’s because physical therapy is proven to help improve strength, balance, mobility and fitness in adults. A strong physical therapy partner like Ageility provides a full range of physical therapy services including:

  • Fall prevention and balance
  • Chronic and acute pain management and prevention
  • Arthritic pain management
  • Strength and flexibility training
  • Postsurgical rehabilitation
  • Sports medicine
  • Continence management
  • And more

How many times a week should you do physical therapy?

When a need for physical therapy has been determined, a course of treatment is likely to be 30 to 60 days in duration. However, the ideal type and frequency of physical therapy can vary from person to person. That’s why a personalized physical therapy partner like Ageility will design individualized treatment plans for each client’s unique circumstances, including sports medicine treatments to help them get back to the activities they love.

The frequency of physical therapy also depends on access. Full-service retirement communities with Ageility clinics strongly benefit from being able to help residents get the ongoing care they need on-site. Even if you need to commute to a clinic, Ageility’s community focus means your visit will be just as personalized and easy as if you lived next door.

Is it ever too late to do physical therapy?

Maybe you have an old back injury that’s still causing you trouble or you’d just like to get up and greet visitors without the need for assistance. No matter what’s holding you back physically, there is no better time than now to start physical therapy. There’s no age limit on improving your quality of life, and Ageility’s therapists are trained and eager to help people reach their personal goals regardless of age, ability or athletic history.

What physical activities are good for older adults?

Many of the physical activities you’ve enjoyed over the years have huge benefits for people as they age. There are exercises and activities, though, that are particularly effective for seniors due to their low impact that puts minimal stress on the body. A few that Ageility’s physical therapists love to use in their customized treatment plans include:

  • Pilates
  • Dumbbell strength training
  • Chair yoga
  • Resistance band workouts
  • Aquatic therapy/water aerobics

How can I find a physical therapist for seniors?

Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t be in the best shape of your life. With regular physical therapy, that hike on your bucket list or goal to continue to live independently is within reach.

Ageility’s licensed therapists are trained and ready to help you get there and make the process as easy and painless as possible. Just wait until you discover what physical therapy can do for you.

To learn more about Ageility’s physical therapy services, contact Ageility at [email protected] for more info or search for an Ageility location near you.

Blended Balance Signature Fitness

A balance program for older adults

Maintaining a sense of balance while standing and walking becomes harder as we age and can raise the risk of falling. Degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s can compromise balance, too. Ageility’s Blended Balance Signature Fitness Program is designed to help older individuals regain their sense of balance and build back strength to live safer, healthier lives.

What is Blended Balance?

Our Blended Balance Signature Fitness Program is part of an integrated approach to fall intervention and prevention. It’s a 12-week, multimodal program that combines balance assessments with tai chi, yoga, balance training exercises and resistance training. Blended Balance is available to anyone wanting to improve their balance; Ageility therapists may also recommend Blended Balance following a course of therapy.

How does Blended Balance work?

The program closely follows balance recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine. Blended Balance combines multicomponent programming to include balance, strength, power, flexibility and functional training for older adults. Each 30-minute session includes:

  • Tai chi warmu
  • Balance drills
  • Strength and/or power training
  • Yoga warm-down

A progressive, customized approach to balance for older adults

Blended Balance sessions progress from using support and eyesight as needed to using little to no support or eyesight to achieve and maintain balance. Balance assessments are performed at week 1 to establish a baseline and week 12 to evaluate progress.

Depending on need, Blended Balance may be repeated. Ageility may also integrate fall prevention rehab services through our OTAGO Fall Risk Reduction Program. Ageility trainers can advise participants on best next steps given their unique situation.

The results: Fewer falls, greater confidence

Building better balance can greatly reduce fear of falling, leading not only to fewer accidents and hospitalizations but better quality of life. Blended Balance is part of Ageility’s comprehensive offering for fall prevention and balance enhancement.

Start building greater confidence today

Not sure if Blended Balance is the right choice? Contact us to learn more. Or find an Ageility Clinic near you. A better life balance is within reach.

The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

How Getting In the Water Can Help Get You Back On Your Feet

Beverly was ready to return to teaching, but there was one painful obstacle in her way. Well, make that two. After getting both of her knees replaced, Beverly was facing at least three months of slow, stressful rehabilitation and recovery. That was a long time to be away from her students and the job she loves. Good thing there was another, more appealing option: an innovative Ageility aquatic therapy program at The Court at Palm Aire in Pompano Beach, Florida. The benefits of aquatic therapy include a faster and easier recovery. Within two months, Beverly was back on her feet and walking into class with knees that felt stronger than ever.

“Aquatic therapy has been a vital, less painful step in my rehabilitation and recovery,” says Beverly. “Had it not been for the care and exercise that I received from my aquatic therapist, I wouldn’t have been as mobile and able to return to work so quickly.”

Whether you need physical therapy to get you back to work like Beverly, or on the golf course, aquatic (or pool) therapy provides a safe and easy path to a speedy recovery. Aquatic therapy also treats a wide variety of conditions and offers a long list of benefits for patients of all ages and fitness levels. Not sure if aquatic therapy is right for you or your loved one? Here’s what you need to know about aquatic therapy before taking the dip.

What’s the difference between aquatic therapy and traditional physical therapy?

Think about the last time you were floating freely in a pool. It felt almost effortless, right? That’s because the buoyancy provided by the water supports your weight and, in turn, reduces the amount of stress placed on the joints. Now consider the last time you splashed someone. Moving your hand through the water requires more force than through the air because of water’s natural resistance. Yet, it also demands far less strain than the weights you would use in traditional physical therapy. That resistance allows for strengthening muscles with less stress, making aquatic therapy a speedier and less painful recovery option than traditional therapy.

What are the benefits of aquatic therapy?

Nothing relaxes the mind and the body quite like a few hours in the pool. Aquatic therapy, though, offers far more benefits than just that refreshed feeling. Spending time in the water exercising alongside a physical therapist can also help you strengthen muscles, reduce swelling, improve balance and enhance flexibility. Put those together and a couple of months of aquatic therapy sessions can help you regain the strength, endurance, and balance you need to get back to moving normally with less pain.

What conditions does aquatic therapy treat?

In short, just about everything! The therapeutic properties of water alongside skilled aquatic therapy specialists can treat a large number of injuries and ailments, and alleviate many chronic conditions. Here are some of the most common that aquatic therapy can treat:

  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Arthritis
  • Lower back pain
  • Joint replacement
  • And many more!

Why choose Ageility for aquatic therapy?

Everyone going through physical therapy has unique circumstances, aches and pains. That’s why Ageility’s experienced and certified therapists provide customized aquatic therapy based on the particular needs of the person. Onsite, heated pools with adaptive devices also allow greater flexibility and convenience for older adults in assisted living communities and outpatients like Lisa. For over a decade, Lisa says customized aquatic therapy has proved “indispensable” to her recovery as a C3 incomplete quadriplegic. She says her improved mobility from “work in the water” has helped her be more functional and independent than she ever thought possible.

“In short, the more I do in the water, the more I can do on land,” she says. “But more importantly, the more I do in the water, the better I feel overall, both physically and emotionally.”

Physical therapy can be a long and painstaking process, but it doesn’t have to be. Aquatic therapy offers a relatively painless recovery in less time with a whole host of benefits, no matter your condition. If traditional therapy doesn’t appeal to you, aquatic therapy at one of Ageility’s physical therapy locations near you might just be the perfect solution to help you get back to the daily activities you love most. Just don’t forget to dry off first!

Experience aquatic therapy designed for older adults who want to live better

Does Ageility sound like the solution you need – for yourself or your senior living community? Find an Ageility clinic or learn more about Ageility partnerships.

Active Lifestyle Tips for Seniors

Anytime Moves for Whole Body Health

Have you ever wondered why it is that children are encouraged to be active – yet as we age, there’s less focus on movement, flexibility and aerobic ability? We’d like to change that by providing some active lifestyle tips! Older adults often fall off the radar when thinking of fitness, but they need to stay active as much – if not more than everyone else. Physical fitness is necessary for the everyday tasks an older person needs to do to stay independent, but it’s also required for driving safely, interacting with friends and an overall better quality of life.

These simple tips for encouraging an active lifestyle work for seniors AND people of all ages – from age 3 to 103!

Work out with the TV

While you or your loved one may not be in shape enough to try hot yoga or get in the cross-training trend, there are plenty of workout videos designed with older adults in mind. From line dancing to gentle stretching to working out with weights, your current fitness level and doctor’s recommendations can help guide what activities are safe. Don’t assume that those confined to a walker or wheelchair are exempt from enjoying video workouts. “Chair exercise” videos are popular with those over 70, and they offer a low-strain way to get blood flowing and muscles moving within their full range.

Walk every day

This advice is true for everyone, not just older adults. The simple act of walking offers maximum health impact with very little effort. For loved ones confined to the home or who can’t venture out during inclement weather, multiple sets of “hallway” walks will do just fine. Set a goal to walk the length of the home 10 times a day, for example, being mindful of changes in terrain from rugs or carpeting that could cause a fall.

Join an active lifestyle group

It’s not as much fun to work out alone, so make it a date. There are many community groups formed with the sole purpose of getting the gang together to make a move, and with everything from organized mall walkers to pickleball teams, it’s an incredibly effective way to play. Ask your local senior center what types of meetups happen each week. You’ll probably find the right activity to join in no time.

Learn something new

Taking a class is a good idea at any age, and learning a way to be active is appropriate for seniors, too. Swimming is the perfect way to get low-impact movement indoors or out, and you’re never too old to pick up a new dance style. Check with your local senior community to see what new courses combine fitness with friends. Learning new things is good for your whole body – and especially your brain.

Talk with your doctor

No matter what motivates you to move, it’s wise to get a physician’s input before starting something new. Even a different set of stretching exercises can cause harm in the wrong circumstances. While it’s not a good idea to fear the unknown, it can take time to understand how new physical activity can affect the body. Start just one new workout at a time, and be sure that there’s someone close by to help if anything goes wrong. While most seniors tolerate moderate activity quite well, unique health conditions – including medication and mobility concerns – can limit the choices for some older adults.

Remember, fitness isn’t only about movement. It’s a whole-body thing.

Reinforce the importance of the following tips for staying healthy throughout a lifetime:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids and let your doctor know if you start to feel thirsty or have a change in urination. Dehydration is much more serious for older adults, and certain essential vitamins and minerals can become out of balance with sudden fluid intake changes.
  2. Pay attention to new aches and pains. While a little stiffness when starting a new exercise is normal, sudden or severe pain is not. Ask your doctor what’s acceptable – and what’s not – and discuss how pain relievers, ice or heat can alleviate common aches from working out new muscle groups.
  3. Listen to your body. No one is a better expert than you. If you feel dizzy, unstable, weak or tired, stop working out and seek medical attention. Some warning signs aren’t as specific as others. A general feeling of something being wrong is a very real concern and doesn’t need additional symptoms to qualify as a real issue.

Ready to get started in experiencing the fullness of a fit and healthy life? The right time to start is now. With some help and inspiration, a better future is possible.

If you want to understand how fitness can play a role in your loved one’s care – find an Ageility location near you.

COPD Therapy: Breathe Easier with COPD Rehab

It may start with a nagging cough or slight shortness of breath that you simply dismiss. Over time you might feel increasing fatigue or chest pressure. COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – is a group of breathing disorders. It can include chronic bronchitis, emphysema or other conditions that make it much harder to breathe. No matter which sub-type, COPD often appears gradually over time, and is more common in older people because it results from damage to the lungs over time.

But the good news is: COPD treatments, including therapy, can significantly reduce COPD symptoms. If you have breathing problems, you might already have medication to open up your lungs and airways. Or you might have oxygen to help you breathe easier. But medication and oxygen aren’t the only options.

At Ageility, older adults can take advantage of our COPD therapy. Through a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, you can greatly improve your quality of life.

How does COPD therapy work?

COPD is fairly common. Over 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with it. Millions more may have it but haven’t seen a doctor yet. When they do see a doctor, they frequently are prescribed medications to reduce the symptoms.

While medications can be used to help manage symptoms, COPD therapy is important, too – to help maintain strength, improve endurance or activity tolerance, and prevent illnesses related to inactivity. Therapy can help interrupt the cycle of low endurance: When you can’t breathe as easily during activity, you tend to become less active, which results in more fatigue. It can be a quick downward spiral if not addressed quickly.

Besides helping you get your strength and endurance back, COPD therapy can also lower your risk of other complications such as pneumonia. It can help ensure you swallow properly so that you don’t aspirate (breathe in) food or drink by mistake, a common struggle among people with COPD. Aspirating food often leads to pneumonia, which further impairs breathing.

As you lose strength and endurance, you also will find it more difficult to take care of yourself. Activities such as bathing, dressing and taking care of your home – or more fun things like shopping or traveling – cause increased difficulty breathing, as well as fatigue. Through Ageility’s COPD therapy, you will regain or improve the ability to perform your daily activities and be able to live a full, active life.

Our COPD therapy focuses on the following:

  • Exercises to strengthen your limbs and breathing muscles. With COPD, your body can’t get the oxygen it needs to function well. Exercises can help increase the flow of oxygen into your body.
  • Stretching to open up tight muscles around the chest. This can help you breathe easier.
  • Education and training to breathe properly and pace your activities, so that you can do more. For example, if you need help getting in and out of the house, our treatments may help you to manage your activity. Soon you may become more independent and find you can go to appointments and other outings on your own.
  • Balance training to help you feel safer. When you have COPD, you get less oxygen to your muscles which can make you feel weak or unsteady. You might worry about falls and as a result limit your activities.
  • Assistance with weight loss, since carrying extra weight can make breathing more difficult. Our therapists may collaborate with your physician to help you manage weight.
  • A speech therapy evaluation. Speech therapists specialize in proper swallowing which can become more challenging with COPD. With increased shortness of breath, it can become difficult to swallow safely. A speech therapist can test your swallowing, teach you ways to eat and drink safely, and help prevent things such as aspiration pneumonia, which is caused by improper swallowing.
  • A holistic approach. COPD is linked to anxiety and depression. Ageility takes a holistic approach to treatment, to help increase relaxation, lower stress, and improve quality of life. We also advocate for our clients, including providing help in getting more appropriate living arrangements. In one example, we helped a client arrange for a first-floor apartment to make it easier to get around outside of her home. We can help you, too, to identify and overcome barriers outside of therapy. At the end of the program, you will have learned exercises you can continue on your own. These exercises will be a part of your new approach to help manage symptoms.

How big is the impact of COPD therapy?

Therapy can significantly improve quality of life for patients with COPD. For example, it can reduce how often you need to be seen for COPD symptoms. For one client, COPD therapy helped reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations from 17 a year to just three a year.

What type of exercises help COPD recovery?

One technique that can assist COPD recover is Pursed Lip Breathing, used to help improve your breathing. Pursed lip breathing can make your breaths slower and more intentional.

  1. Sit with your back straight, or find a comfortable place to lie down.
  2. Relax your shoulders as much as possible.
  3. Inhale through your nose for two seconds. You’ll feel the air move into your abdomen. Try to fill your abdomen with air, not just your lungs.
  4. Purse your lips as if you’re blowing on hot food. Breathe out slowly through your lips, taking twice as long to exhale as you took to breathe in.
  5. Repeat. Over time, you can increase the inhale and exhale counts from two seconds to four seconds.

How can I find COPD therapy services?

If you have COPD – and are feeling limited by what you can do – contact Ageility at [email protected] to learn how we can help, or search for an Ageility location near you.

Managing Urinary Incontinence: Asking for a Friend

It’s happened again. You sneezed and felt a leak down below. You think that maybe you won’t go out to dinner tonight with friends like you planned. Maybe you should stay home because if you go out tonight and laugh too hard, you’ll get that same sensation and feel embarrassed.

In fact, loss of bladder control has been a problem for a while now, and each time it happens—including this time—you swear you’ll call your doctor.

But you’re embarrassed and, like all the other times, you put it off. Maybe if you told your doctor you were asking for a friend, you could find the courage to ask advice on managing urinary incontinence.

If you did, your doctor might say your friend should know a few things: First, she’s not alone. Second, bladder leakage, also called urinary incontinence (UI), is highly manageable and treatable. Third, it’s important to get UI checked out, because it may be caused by an underlying medical condition that can be addressed by your doctor. Last, physical or occupational therapy could help, too.

And one more: There are steps you can take now to start regaining bladder control so you can live life with much less worry and a lot more confidence.

You’re not alone

Bladder leakage is more common than many people think. It occurs in both women and men, but it is more common in women, for whom childbirth and menopause are factors in addition to aging. In independent living and assisted living communities, UI is estimated to occur in 15%–35% of women and men. There are three main types:

  • Stress incontinence occurs with physical stress, such as sneezing, coughing, laughing or working out.
  • Urge or urgency incontinence occurs when a sudden, strong urge to urinate leads to leakage or not getting to the bathroom in time—a “Gotta go right now!” feeling.
  • Mixed incontinence is when both stress and urge types occur.

Although UI is caused by conditions that happen to occur with aging, it should not be considered a normal part of getting older. It’s normal for an older adult to go to the bathroom one or two times during the night, and urgency should be rare. Yet many women don’t report UI to their doctor—only one in four seek care for the problem. That’s why it’s important to know that UI is highly treatable with therapy, such as that provided by Ageility physical or occupational therapists.

What can urinary incontinence therapy do?

In women, the pelvic floor is an interconnected group of muscles supporting the bladder. When it weakens, leakage or incontinence can result. Regular exercise of these muscles—called pelvic floor muscle (PFM) or Kegel exercises—can build muscle strength, endurance and coordination. Physical and occupational therapy treatment combines PFM exercises with modifications and other strategies to provide a well-rounded approach to treating UI. Treatment includes:

  • Exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles
  • Monitoring the movement and strength of the pelvic muscles
  • Teaching an at-home routine for strengthening the muscles and calming the nervous system
  • Environmental modification
  • Clothing modification
  • Functional activities to increase toileting independence
  • Mental strategies

By addressing not just physical strength but other factors, Ageility therapists teach their clients multiple ways to manage and overcome UI for an optimal chance at success.

Why you should talk to your doctor about managing urinary incontinence

Many people who struggle with UI are reluctant to bring it up with their physician. But UI may not be just a sign of weak pelvic floor muscles (or, in the case of some older men, an enlarged prostate). In rare cases, it can also be a sign of an underlying serious medical condition. Still, it is a very good reason to talk to your doctor is if UI is interfering with your daily life.

Until you can consult your doctor, here are some steps you can take to begin regaining control of your bladder and the hold UI has on your life:

  • Monitor your UI. Note when it occurs to help recognize patterns you may want to change, such as using the bathroom following meals.
  • Change your lifestyle. Even something simple can help, such as going to the bathroom every 2 hours during the day to empty your bladder regardless of the urge to go.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Watch what you eat and drink, especially “bladder irritants” such as caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods.
  • Increase your physical activity.
  • Get involved in recreational and social activities.

Start taking control—talk to Ageility

Are you (or your friend!) ready to tackle UI and leave the worry behind?
Find an Ageility clinic near you.

What is the Activities Specific Balance Confidence Scale?

Balance: It’s Not 100% Anymore, But Is It a Problem?

What is balance confidence?

Balance is important, but how do you know if you have “good” balance? At Ageility, we define good balance as the ability to easily maintain your body’s position without tripping or stumbling. But many adults lack good balance; 25% of older adults say they have difficulty with balance or need special equipment (or another person) to assist them when walking. After age 75, nearly 40% struggle with balance.

So why is balance so important? Balance problems increase the risk of falls, which increase risk of injury. One in four seniors report falling each year, and over 20% of those falls required medical attention due to injury.

That’s why Ageility therapists don’t just help older adults recover AFTER a fall. We also use various assessments to discover risk BEFORE falls and injury ever occur. One of our go-to tools, which you can use at home, is the Activities-Specific Balance Confidence Scale.

How is ABC scale score calculated?

The ABC Scale is a simple tool to measure your balance confidence. It asks you to rate your confidence in completing everyday activities while remaining steady on your feet. For each activity on the list, you write your confidence from 0% to 100%. 0% means you’re not confident at all, and you’re worried about falling, and 100% means you’re completely confident and trust your balance.

Take the ABC Scale for Balance!

As you rate your confidence for each item below, go with your first instinct because it’s usually the most accurate. If you don’t do one or more of the activities, imagine yourself in that situation and make your best guess. If you use a walker or cane or lean on someone when you walk, rate your confidence when using that support. For items that include the phrases up or down, into or out of, or onto or off, think about whether your confidence level varies based on which direction you go in. For example, you may be more confident in your ability to walk up the stairs than down them. In that case, you would list the lower confidence level of the two (walking down the stairs).

How confident are you that you will NOT lose your balance or become unsteady when you…

…walk around the house? ____%

…walk up or down stairs? ____%

…bend over and pick up a slipper from the front of a closet floor ____%

…reach for a small can off a shelf at eye level? ____%

…stand on your tiptoes and reach for something above your head? ____% …stand on a chair and reach for something? ____%

…sweep the floor? ____%

…walk outside the house to a car parked in the driveway? ____%

…get into or out of a car? ____%

…walk across a parking lot to the mall? ____%

…walk up or down a ramp? ____%

…walk in a crowded mall where people rapidly walk past you? ____%

…are bumped into by people as you walk through the mall?____%

… step onto or off an escalator while you are holding onto a railing? ____%

… step onto or off an escalator while holding onto parcels such that you cannot hold onto the railing? ____%

…walk outside on icy sidewalks? ____%

How do you score activity specific balance confidence scale results?

Now it’s time to determine your results! Add up your score from each line, and then divide by 16 to determine your percentage. If you scored:

  • 80% or higher, you’re in good shape, have a “high level of physical functioning” and are at low risk for falls. Continue to move and do strength exercises to maintain your balance.
  • 50-80%, you’re considered to have a moderate level of physical functioning. However, studies have shown that any score below 67% is predictive of a future fall – meaning you’re very likely to have a fall soon that could lead to problems. At this stage, we encourage you to stay in regular contact with your physical therapist or doctor and to exercise often to improve your strength, stamina and balance.
  • Below 50%, you’re considered to have a low level of physical functioning, and are at the highest risk of a fall. But there’s no need to panic. Now that you know there’s a problem, you can make a plan to address it. You should call your doctor or physical therapist to express your concerns and seek advice. With a strategy, an exercise routine and possibly an assistive device or two in place, you can stay active – safely.

Ageility can help you improve balance and reduce falls

Whether you scored high or low on the Activities-Specific Balance Confidence Scale, Ageility can help. Our specialists can explain what your score means and make recommendations for you to improve your balance. Then, through our fitness and rehab programs – along with our state-of-the-art balance tools and technologies – we can develop a customized plan to help you maintain or gain strength and balance, according to your specific needs.

Contact Ageility at [email protected] or find an Ageility location near you to learn how we can assist you!

Top 7 Functional Exercises for Older Adults Open What is Functional Exercise?

What is Functional Exercise?

It’s a type of fitness training designed to train and develop your muscles to do things you do every day more easily and safely, whether it’s bending down to garden or playing basketball with your grandkids. Functional fitness exercises mirror everyday movements to train your muscles to work together for their daily tasks, whether for home, work or play.

For example, a squat is a functional exercise because it works the muscles you use to crouch down to pull a weed in that garden. A standing rowing movement trains the muscles you use to pull open a stubborn dresser drawer. A hip rotation helps you swivel to steal the basketball from your surprised grandchild.

Functional exercises are particularly beneficial for older adults because they mimic common activities, train several muscle groups simultaneously and in general require little specialized equipment. You can do many of them in your own home.

The Functional Exercise Movement

Although functional exercise training has been around a long time, it began growing in popularity about 10 years ago, according to Kathryn Cunningham, Ageility fitness programming and training specialist. “Functional exercise has become more established in the fitness industry,” said Kathryn. “It helps improve both stability and mobility. Done at a higher level, it can help athletes improve how they play sports, but we fitness trainers for older adults also find it useful for increasing one’s capacity to perform activities of daily living, or ADLs.”

That capacity can be thought of as functional fitness, said Andrew Walker, director of health and wellness for the National Senior Games Association.

“The physical capacity to perform ADLs in a safe and independent manner without undue fatigue is one way to define functional fitness,” said Andrew, who works with elite senior athletes as well as other older adults. “It’s about efficiency. Functional fitness involves training with specificity—specific movements and specific patterns to enable moving more efficiently.”

But functional exercises aren’t just for elite athletes, Andrew said. “For seniors who are not competing athletically, functional fitness is significant, since it is directly related to one’s ability to perform activities of daily living.”

Try for yourself: A functional exercise workout

With that in mind, here’s a complete workout featuring seven functional exercises to help you increase your own capacity to move through your day more easily and safely—and with greater enjoyment. Watch our video below as Ageility personal fitness trainer Jessica Lime takes you through the workout step-by-step.


Functional Exercise Actions/Activities It Supports (Examples)
Squat Picking up objects dropped on the floor; lifting objects
Lunge Walking; climbing stairs; maintaining balance
Push-up (from floor, incline and wall) Pushing; breaking a fall; tasks requiring upper body strength
Standing row Pulling; lifting; carrying; opening doors and drawers
Hinge Walking or running uphill; unloading the dishwasher; raking or shoveling; lifting a small child
Rotation (using exercise band) Walking; running; crouching; stepping into a bathtub; putting on pants
Walk Walking; general mobility; getting from door to car; moving about one’s home

So get moving—gently—and good luck!

Find functional fitness training for yourself or your community

At Ageility, your potential is our passion, a reason we are a proud association partner of the National Senior Games Association. Interested in a functional exercise program for yourself or your senior living community? Find an Ageility clinic or learn more about the benefits of Ageility partnerships.

Seniors and Physical Therapy: It’s Not Just Rehab Anymore

Physical therapy for seniors isn’t what it used to be—not at Ageility clinics, anyway. Time was that physical therapy was seen as one way to help older adults bounce back from an accident (such as a fall), injury, surgery, pain or illness. Therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, hot and cold therapy, traction—these and other go-to methods for physical therapy were all about rehabilitation and recovery.

However, as senior Bob Dylan—he will turn 80 in May—once famously sang, the times, they are a-changin’. For today’s older adults, physical therapy also means getting back to the golf course or tennis court, swimming like an Olympian, or running road races.

According to Denise Kelly, founder of Ageility, yesterday’s physical and occupational therapy only took the patient part of the way. “The traditional model was to tell the patient, ‘Do this,'” Denise says. “But we recognized that many people are motivated to take care of themselves and to be as well as possible, which we see in independent living communities.”

Ageility is reinventing rehab for older adults

And so Ageility is reinventing rehab for older adults, offering not just recovery interventions but prevention and fitness training in its clinics. Prevention helps senior living residents avoid falls and other catastrophic events, while fitness training helps older adults stay active as long as possible—even to the point of achieving goals they’ve had all their lives, such as running a marathon.

Denise says the Ageility approach honors the fact that attitudes toward aging are changing and that today’s seniors are redefining what is possible in our later years.

“Retirement doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch all day, and we know that’s not what people want,” Denise says. “Older people want to be productive. They want to be as fit as they can be.”

Erica Leiva, a rehabilitation director for Ageility based in Florida, agrees. “Many of us who trained in geriatrics were told that older people couldn’t improve, that the goal was just to maintain,” Erica explains. “Ageility helped me see—and brought out in me that hope—that a senior can improve at any age. They want that and they should have it, and we’re committed to working with our residents to make it happen.”

Tennis, anyone? Sports medicine for seniors

What does reinventing physical therapy look like? Simply put, it covers a wider range of services as well as possibilities for the patient. Physical therapy includes prehab (strengthening muscles prior to surgery to optimize recovery after), postsurgical rehab, fall prevention, pain management, and strength and flexibility training—and sports medicine.

Sports medicine for seniors? Yes—because today’s older adults are redefining aging. Ageility sports medicine specialists work with residents who want to be more physically active doing the things they love, like golf, tennis, swimming, or running. Regardless of age, ability, or athletic history, they help everyone achieve their physical potential.

Also making Ageility unique is its hospitality approach. “What makes Ageility different is that we have a hospitality background,” Denise says. That means that in addition to including the very latest evidence-based techniques and equipment, Ageility’s clinics possess a warm familiarity as part of the neighborhood environment.

“Ageility really understands the importance of outpatient therapy in our residents’ lives,” Erica adds. “To me, outpatient therapy is the future of rehabilitation medicine. That’s where all the fine-tuning and the magic happens.”

Not just getting better, but better living for older adults

Ageility offers the full gamut of rehabilitative services—physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language pathology —but it combines these services with a clients other goals which may include not just getting better but living better. That, Erica, explains, is what makes Ageility unique, for physical therapy and beyond. “We love to give them hope,” she says. “We love to help older adults enjoy a better quality of life. We love to see the difference we get to make in people’s lives.”

Experience PT designed for older adults who want to live better

Does Ageility sound like the solution you need – for yourself or your senior living community?
Find an Ageility clinic or learn more about Ageility partnerships.