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"Never put your pants on standing up" doesn't get at the real problem.

Strength and balance training are not enough; old people need to learn kinesthetic awareness, also known as physical intelligence.

Photo of Mariah Burton Nelson
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An elderly relative of mine has fallen and broken a hip twice. Once he was putting his pants on standing up; another time he was leaving the dining room in his assisted living facility and "it just happened." After the first break, his motto became, "Never put your pants on standing up." Good advice perhaps, but it doesn't get at the root problem, which (in his case at least) is lack of awareness of where his body is in space. He spills things. He knocks things over. He considers himself clumsy -- but clumsiness can be reduced through physical education sessions designed to teach people how to listen to, respond to, and take care of their bodies. Old women are particularly likely to be "clumsy" because they were sidelined from almost all sports participation when they were young.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

What if we taught people (at all ages) to be aware of where their bodies are in space, how to move efficiently and gracefully, and how to respond when their bodies indicate weakness, soreness, stiffness, etc?

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm VP for innovation at ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership. I've written seven books, mostly about female athletes, and I've taken care of two elderly parents.

1 comment

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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Mariah!

Thank you for another brilliant post. Does Tai Chi and Judo help people develop the body awareness needed? e.g. Judo teaches its students how to break falls to prevent injuries and Feel the “Qi” (Energy) ?