The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

May 16, 2007              

Table of Contents

  • Ankle Care (Try these stabilizing exercises)
  • Another Reason to "Sleep On It" (Memory fitness)
  • Whole-Person Wellness for Seniors (A model program)
  • Occupational Therapy for Dementia Patients (Research)
  • More Help for Dementia Patients and Caregivers (Research)
  • International Internship Sought (Industry news)
  • Strength of Spirit (Reflection)
  • Attention Group Fitness Instructors (Short-term opportunity)
  • The Cat from "Kat" Tugs at SFA's Heartstrings (Check this out!)
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Early anatomical diagramAnkle Care

Dr. Paul Donohue's "To Your Good Health" column in the News-Journal of Daytona Beach, Florida, recently shared some excellent exercise moves designed to make our ankle ligaments better resistant against sprains. As all SFA-trained fitness professionals know, ligaments connect bone with bone. Ankle sprains occur when there is a tearing of some or all of the fibers in a ligament (or in more than one ligament) that holds the ankle joint securely in place.

To firm up the ankle ligaments, perform these three sprain-discouraging exercises:
  • Seated in a chair with one foot resting on the floor, extend the other foot toward the front. With the elevated foot, trace all of the capital letters of the alphabet into the air, using the great toe as your "pencil." For best results, form the letters mainly by moving your foot at the ankle joint, not by moving your leg (that's another exercise!). Continue -- even repeating the alphabet -- until the first foot tires, then switch to the second foot.
  • With balance support available as necessary, perform a one-legged stand with the other leg bent. Over time, build up to standing for 20 seconds per leg. Repeat several times on each side.
  • Walk forward toe-to-heel for several minutes at a time, as well-tolerated. Begin on a flat, solid surface. Eventually, you may be able to progress to more challenging conditions. For example, if you live near a shore, toe-to-heel sand walking can be very beneficial.

While stabilizing the ankle joint, this regimen will also improve balance, promote fall prevention, and enhance one's functional fitness level.


Another Reason to "Sleep On It"

According to the Pulse wire report,
new research at Harvard Medical School suggests that sleeping may help us to retain information. Scientists there asked 48 participants to memorize a list of 20 word-pairs, then tested them on their recall 12 hours later. While some participants learned the words at 9 am, others learned them at 9 pm and then slept. Those in the "sleep" group recalled 12 percent more words than those in the "morning" group. Lead author of the study, neurologist Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, explained that a memory boost might result from the brain's replaying of daytime information during sleep.   


Whole-Person Wellness for Seniors

Something noteworthy is happening in Lenexa, Kansas.
SFA professional Jan Montague, MGS, and her colleagues are conducting a major wellness initiative at Lenexa's Lakeview Village life-care community. In April, 2007, they obtained baseline measurements on 450 volunteers with regard to functional fitness status and whole-person wellness perception. Re-testing will take place in approximately one year in order to assess the effectiveness of the village's commitment to quality wellness promotion. For exciting details about this pilot study, click on "
Whole-Person Wellness Enthusiasm Surprises the 'Experts'".

Jan Montague, Vice President for Wellness Initiatives at Lakeview Village, has pioneered the development of whole-person wellness programming for more than 25 years. We are delighted to announce that she will be providing a series of expert senior wellness tips for Experience! readers in the coming months!


Occupational Therapy for Dementia Patients

A Dutch study has found
that occupational therapy (with training to perform simple tasks around the house) improved the quality of life for dementia patients and their caregivers, according to a report by HealthDay. The results of the study were published in the British Medical Journal.

The subjects of the study were 135 persons, ages 65-plus, with mild to moderate dementia. Half the subjects received 10 home-based sessions with occupational therapists over a five-week period to learn various ways to cope with cognitive decline. Occupational therapists can teach adaptive techniques using familiar household items like calendars and clocks to help persons in the early stages of dementia. In this study, the caregivers of those receiving the training were also taught helpful coping skills.

Seventy-five percent of patients who received the training showed enhancement in their motor skills, and 82 percent required less assistance with their activities of daily living. Only 10 percent of those who did not receive training showed comparable improvements.

About half of the participants who received caregiver training reported feeling more competent at performing their duties, compared to a fourth of those who did not receive training.

Researchers hope the results of this study may make it easier for patients with dementia to obtain insurance coverage for occupational therapy.

The researchers stated, "Because outcomes such as improvements in activities of daily living and sense of competence are associated with a decrease in need for assistance, we believe that in the long term, occupational therapy will result in less dependence on social and health care resources and less need for institutionalization."


More Help for Dementia Patients and Caregivers

Reuters Health recently reported on two studies,
both published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, that may lead to the development of useful programs for dementia patients and for those who care for them.

In one study, it was mainly the patients who benefitted. Researchers divided 408 patients (each paired with his or her caregiver) into two groups. While the control group received no intervention, the other group received assistance from a care manager who helped prioritize and resolve disease-related problems, arrange doctor visits, and coordinate social services. After a year, patients in the intervention group had significant improvements in quality of life, quality of care, and social support, compared to little improvement in the control group.

In the other study, caregivers were the main beneficiaries. Researchers divided 518 caregivers into two groups. While members of the control group received only brief "check in" phone calls from a counselor during the study, the other group received regular counseling on caregiver burden, depression, and self-care. After six months, caregivers in the intervention group had significant improvement in quality of life and a much lower rate of clinical depression, compared to those in the control group (12.6 percent as opposed to 22.7 percent).


International Internship Sought

Jayanta Sharma is an SFA member from India
who seeks an American senior fitness internship, preferably during the summer months of 2007. His area of special interest is Nautilus training for older adults.

According to the resume that Mr. Sharma provided for SFA, he holds his Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Electronics & Power Engineering and currently works in the engineering profession. However, he expresses a keen interest in launching a new career as a senior fitness professional and in promoting the cause of older adult fitness in his home country of India as well as in other countries. 

Mr. Sharma has earned his SFA Senior Fitness Instructor certificate of completion and desires to undertake a U.S. based internship in order to gain additional practical knowledge and experience in the older adult fitness field. If your facility or fitness program would like to discuss possible internship arrangements with Mr. Sharma, please contact him directly. His email address is: His mailing address is: 8 Harabala Road, Ulubari, Guwahati-781007, India.


Strength of Spirit

Here is a beautiful thought to remember always:

"The invisible part of me is not old. In aging, we gain as well as lose. Our spiritual forces expand."

                                                                      -- anonymous 90-year-old woman


Attention Group Fitness Instructors

Some time ago, we provided a one-week-only reduced rate
on all SFA Senior Fitness Instructor professional training programs. In this area of study, you can earn 25 hours of continuing education credit, a respected certificate of completion, and/or full professional certification as an SFA certified Senior Fitness Instructor.

Since that time, SFA has welcomed so many new members that we've begun receiving numerous requests to repeat the offer for those who missed it before. To honor these requests, we are renewing the Senior Fitness Instructor fee reduction opportunity for another short-term period beginning today. 

So if you've been thinking of gaining new skills as an older adult group exercise leader, act now. This opportunity is only valid through Friday, May 25, 2007, and only applies to Senior Fitness Instructor educational resources.

To learn more or to order
please click here or call SFA (M-F, 10 am - 5 pm Eastern) at 800-243-1478 or 386-423-6634.


Gumbo shortly after his rescueThe Cat from "Kat" Tugs at SFA's Heartstrings

Don't miss our upcoming issue of Experience! for an important announcement affecting SFA members! Here's what the news media pro's would call a "tease" for next issue's revelation:

Gumbo is a tiny feline survivor of that terrible ordeal that was Hurricane Katrina. Adopted by SFA principals in Florida after his near-miraculous rescue not far from New Orleans, the diminutive tomcat now thrives as a daily reminder that not all is well yet in that troubled region.

Among those hardest hit by the Gulf Coast disaster were the area's disabled elderly citizens. With that in mind, SFA will unveil our plans to "adopt" the residents of an historic New Orleans nursing home. And we will let you know how you can get involved and help.

Gumbo has graciously volunteered to serve as our mascot for the project.


Experience! readers:
Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

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