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Functional Fitness for Older AdultsPatricia Brill
US Price: $41
144 pages

About the Author | Table of Contents | Audiences

Functional Fitness for Older Adults is an illustrated guide for activity professionals working with adults over the age of 65-especially those who are unable to complete activities of daily living because of poor functional fitness levels.

This guide provides you with physical activity programs that are proven to be both safe and effective for improving the functional performance levels of your participants as well as improving their health-related quality of life.

The guide includes a variety of specialized activity programs that are developed to meet the specific needs of older adults. They are designed to improve upper- and lower-body strength, balance, range of motion, and functional performance. Each exercise program is approximately 20 to 30 minutes long and works easily with busy schedules, a variety of participants' needs, and institutional budgets. Specific guidelines are included for working with older adults with arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, or stroke. Extensive research has verified that the guidelines and programs are safe and will result in significant functional gains for most participants.

There are nine activity programs to choose from. Three are basic strength training programs that are designed for different fitness levels, with each program including exercises to strengthen the major muscle groups needed for performing daily activities. One program is a walking and wheeling program for cardiovascular conditioning. The five remaining programs address specific functional needs, disabilities, and health concerns, including balance and mobility problems, incontinence, and dementia. These five programs may be offered in conjunction with one of the three strength training programs. Most of the programs may be conducted either on an individual basis or in a group setting, and both seated and standing exercises are included.

These nine cost-effective programs offer safe and effective strategies for developing the functional performance levels of you participants. The functional fitness programs enable you to improve the quality of life for your older adult population, help those who are functional to maintain or improve their functional level, enable others to regain the ability to participate in activities that are meaningful, and increase the degree of independence for most. The general fitness programs provide an easy-to-difficult progression:

The specialized programs enable you to address the specific functional needs of those with decreased ability to walk, incontinence, and dementia; and those who are wheelchair- or bed-bound also have specialized programs:

Functional Fitness for Older Adults includes materials that make it easy for you to conduct the programs. All exercises are organized into warm-up and cool-down exercises, upper-body exercises, lower-body sitting exercises, lower-body standing exercises, and seated modifications. Included are individual and group balance activities, foot exercises, and walking and wheeling activities. All exercise descriptions list the muscles worked and instructions for performing the exercise. Many also feature adaptations to the exercise, suggestions for those needing more of a challenge, and ideas for making the activities fun. You'll find illustrated summary sheets to use as handy program guides for each of the nine programs. These sheets can be easily photocopied, then enlarged and laminated to create a "cheat sheet" for conducting each session.

As those who have worked with older adults know, this population is notorious for not wanting to exercise, yet exercise is often the only thing that enables them to retain or regain a reasonable quality of life. The guide provides information on motivating frail or potentially frail elders to participate and keep participating:

The exercise instructions, abundant illustrations, and program guides put all the information you need to teach exercises and lead programs at your fingertips. Functional Fitness for Older Adults is the most comprehensive guide you'll find to build your repertoire of programs for elders who want to improve their overall quality of life by increasing their physical abilities.

About the Author

Patricia A. Brill, PhD, is the founder of Functional Fitness, L.L.C., a consulting company that designs and implements fitness and wellness programs for seniors. She has developed and produced 4 exercise and training videos for seniors as well as 10 functional fitness exercise programs with accompanying illustrated guides. For the last decade, she has conducted research and designed exercise programs for older adults living at home, in independent and assisted living communities, or in nursing homes, as well as in dementia care facilities. Older adults' regular participation in these exercise programs has resulted in their being able to walk, travel, bathe, dress themselves, and perform many social and physical activities they were previously unable to participate in.

In 1998, Dr. Brill was awarded the American College of Sports Medicine Healthy People 2000 Physical Activity Promotion Award for designing and implementing a research strength training program for a large assisted-living corporation. In 1997, she was awarded the South Carolina Governor's Award for Research in Aging for the design and implementation of a placemat that illustrates a strength-training program called "The Kitchen Table Is not Just for Eating . . . Let's Exercise." Dr. Brill also was presented with the University of South Carolina's Award for Excellence in Research for the 1994-1995 academic year for the creation of a Functional Fitness Strength Training Program to Restore Activities of Daily Living in Frail Individuals. In 2001 she won the National Mature Media Award for her dementia and exercise training video.

Dr. Brill is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. She has published more than 25 peer-reviewed research articles, coauthored a fitness prescription provider guide for physicians and health professionals, and has presented on exercise for older adults at more than 15 national conferences.

In her free time, Dr. Brill enjoys boating, traveling, and listening to blues music. She resides in Houston, Texas.

Table of Contents


A reference for activity professionals, physical therapists, nurses, aides, caregivers, or students working with older adults in independent and assisted-living communities, nursing homes, Alzheimer's care facilities, or home health care. A supplementary text for courses in health care, physical or recreational therapy, exercise science, and long-term care activity programs. A training manual for fitness instructors to share with their assistants, including certified nursing and activity assistants.

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