Today’s blog will explore how to communicate effectively with older adults as a Fitness Professional, including a 12 minute video where you’ll learn:
- Are you qualified to work with older adults as a FITPRO?
- Why we need to change communication and instruction for older adults
- Why is communication important?
- 5 factors to consider when communicating effectively with older adults
- Invite to become qualified to instruct exercises for older adults
Start by watching the 12 minute video tutorial
Watch: How do you communicate effectively with older adults?
Are you qualified to work with older adults as a FITPRO?
Most fitness qualifications do not include knowledge to cover the FITPRO to work safely with older adults. The traditional Gym, PT, Pilates and Yoga qualifications allow you to work with healthy adults, that pass a PARQ and are under the age of 65. If you want to work with older adults then you will require an additional qualification to equip you to understand the differences required when programming for older adults.
Why do we need to change our communication and instruction for older adults?
The human body changes as we age. As our clients get older, you can expect to see changes to their
- muscle density,
- bone density,
- joint stability and alignment,
- cardiovascular health,
- respiratory efficiency,
- motor connections
- and cognitive ability
- amongst many more
Each of these changes will affect the way our older adult clients respond to exercise and the stress that it places on the body.
These changes are the reasons for needing additional knowledge about the specific needs of older adults before prescribing exercise, and activity plans.
Why is communication important?
Communication is a key part of any client relationship as a FITPRO. Effective communication is equally essential when training older adults, as it can help ensure that they fully understand the instructions and successfully complete their learning tasks.
Advancing age comes with normal cognitive decline and changes to sensory processing, which can affect how information is relayed and recalled.
It is essential to consider the unique needs and challenges that older adults may face, such as changes in hearing, vision, and cognitive function, and to adapt the training accordingly.
5 factors to consider when communicating effectively with older adults
One key aspect of effective communication with older adults is to make sure our word choice is appropriate to the generational difference. This doesn’t just mean the use of swear words but other words that may be normal to you may be unused by an older generation (like bum, or belly for example).
Make sure you listen carefully to the language they use and use their language when communicating back to them.
2.Simple explanations and clear supporting plans
Make sure you use clear and concise language; older adults may have more difficulty processing complex or unfamiliar information, so it is important to keep explanations simple and straightforward.
It can also be helpful to provide written instructions or summaries for reference. Another important consideration is using visual aids, such as diagrams, charts, and demonstrations on your programme cards. These can help supplement verbal explanations and make the information more concrete and easier to understand. It is also helpful to provide ample opportunity for practice and repetition, as this can help solidify the learning and improve retention.
Make sure any supporting plans are in large enough font that can be seen by the client, and consider whether audio or video format options are more appropriate.
3.All Learning Styles
Include a mix of all learning styles to ensure the client understands the plan and exercises safely and effectively. This means being clear on visual cues, by using hand gestures to reinforce key numbers or highlight the main teaching points. You can also use clear and concise verbal communication, with an appropriate tone of voice.
Older adults may also benefit from the use of tactile or hands-on learning experiences, as this can help engage multiple senses and make the learning more meaningful and memorable. For example, if teaching a squat, it may be helpful to allow the older adult to physically do the squat not just see it. They should try out the exercise and take note of how it feels, so they can replicate it on their own later.
4.Encouragement and Support
Another important aspect of communication when training older adults is the use of positive reinforcement and encouragement. It is important to recognize and acknowledge the progress and achievements of older learners, as this can help boost their confidence and motivation. It is also important to be patient and understanding if there are any setbacks or challenges and to offer support and guidance as needed.
An older client is likely to have more issues with coordination and motor skills so be patient when correcting technique and continually reinforce the positives about their movement quality and progression. Find the right balance of them moving safely and effectively, but also having volume nad consistency to the amount of exercise they do.
All clients deserve respect and time to talk and share their opinions and thoughts. This is even more important for older clients who may struggle to complete sentences, don’t try and hop into the conversation by completing their sentences
… give them time and space.
Actively listening can help ensure that the training and advice is tailored to their individual needs and that any issues or difficulties are addressed in a timely manner. It is important to create an open and respectful environment where older adults feel comfortable asking questions and expressing their thoughts and feelings.
Overall, the importance of communication when training older adults cannot be understated. By using clear and concise language, visual aids, hands-on learning experiences, positive reinforcement, and active listening, trainers can help ensure that older adults fully understand the instructions and can successfully complete the tasks they are learning. This can help promote independence, improve quality of life, and increase the overall effectiveness of the training.
Get qualified to instruct older adults
Our new Level 3 award designing exercise programmes for Older Adults, is launching later this month. You can be one of the first to learn, qualify and start working with older adult clients safely and effectively.
Plus you learn the effects of ageing, the impact on the UK population, programming considerations and how to instruct older adult clients, so you know your sessions are safe, effective and insured.
Become knowledgeable and confident at working with older adult clients.
This is for you if you’re…
- attracting clients that are 65+
- a newly qualified FITPRO that knows they want to work with older adults
- want to run exercise sessions in retirement villages or care homes
- need planning ideas and adaptations including chair-based exercise
- want confidence and knowledge so you know the session are safe
- looking to expand your client portfolio
Dedicated to More
Hayley “How Do You Communicate Effectively With Older Adults?” Bergman
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Read more Older adult and specialist blogs: HERE