Many personal trainers who work with people over the age of 55 take the same approach as they do with younger clients. However, you may find your “senior” clients don’t respond as well to your tried and true methods. That’s because older bodies have unique biomechanics.  

At Gray Institute®, we know that many movement professionals simply don’t get the educational tools they need to support their older clients’ health and healing. Despite this, healthcare industry standards are shifting to focus on “functional outcomes” without a comprehensive definition of what “functional” means or techniques to help practitioners serve their aging clients.

Functional Results Require Tangible Outcomes

Functional outcomes help your patients or clients achieve their goals for living a healthy, active life. Anything less than that isn’t actually functional, but an arbitrary “goal” that might check a box on paper but not be genuinely empowering. 

For example, your client might have a goal of going to the bathroom on their own. Using a conventional approach, a practitioner might consider weight training exercises to build muscle and endurance so their client can raise and lower themselves, squat, and balance. According to conventional wisdom, the increased strength is considered a functional result because they’re physically stronger. But, if that strength does not empower to achieve their goal — independently using the bathroom — the result isn’t truly functional.

We know that conventional wisdom and education don’t always support this approach. It can be challenging for professionals who help older people fill in the missing gaps. That’s where our Active Aging course enters the picture.

Active Aging Uses Applied Functional Science® to Get Real, Functional Results

In recent years, many healthcare providers and insurance companies have become fixated on “functional reporting” and data-driven decision-making. While CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has discontinued functional reporting requirements for some physical therapy and occupational therapy services, this hasn’t changed many people’s interest in “functional” results. Problematically, these functional assessments often aren’t grounded in real life—and many organizational definitions of “function” are vague or unclear.

At Gray Institute, we’ve been studying Applied Functional Science® (AFS) for over 40 years and have a unique perspective on assessing function and gauging results. Older bodies have different needs, abilities, and opportunities than younger ones. For instance, as we age, bones are often not as strong, ligaments become less elastic, and our sense of balance is affected, especially after events like a stroke.

That’s why we take a holistic, personalized approach, considering each person’s unique challenges and goals. Your older clients don’t fall neatly into one category. Some may be rehabbing after a joint replacement. Others are building strength after a serious health issue, like a heart attack or a stroke. And another group is training for their next marathon.

To help your older clients improve their quality of life, your approach must consider these elements. You may need to use mobility aids, parallel bars, and other tools that are part of your clients’ daily lives. For others, you’ll need to tweak your workouts to accommodate their physiology.

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How Applied Functional Science® Makes a Difference

Applied Functional Science is Gray Institute’s unique approach to human movement, biomechanics, and optimal function. AFS helps movement professionals like you understand the human body and apply techniques that get real results. Through the AFS lens, we view success as improved quality of life, meeting your clients’ goals, and feeling good about what they can do in the body they’re in.

Our Active Aging specialization appreciates older bodies as they are, unique needs and all. We never categorize results as “functional” if they don’t help our patients and clients achieve their goals. We also embrace a client-centered approach that views people as unique individuals. If you’ve been looking for a fresh approach to working with clients over the age of 55, scientifically sound methodology, and a community of like-minded practitioners, consider enrolling in Active Aging, where you’ll find all three.

Ready to Get Started? Enroll in Active Aging Today

We believe that every patient and client deserves world-class care that works for them and their bodies — whether they’re 26 or 86-years-old. Our Active Aging course is designed to empower practitioners like you with the education, tools, and perspective you need to help older clients identify functional goals and achieve them. Active Aging is approved for CEU credits, and courses are available online so you can get the education you want and need at your own pace, in your own home.

To learn more about Active Aging or to enroll, please visit the Active Aging course page. Or, if you’d like to speak with someone from Gray Institute, don’t hesitate to reach out! We love meeting passionate professionals and would love to hear from you about how we can help you meet your goals.