Exercises to Help the Elderly to Stand & Transfer


Moving from a seated position to a standing one is a whole-body movement that requires adequate strength, balance and range of motion. This transitional movement is essential, and you must be able to do it whether living alone or in an assisted care environment. The sit-to-stand-and-transfer motion is a functional movement pattern; the best way to prepare for it is to break down the pattern and practice each part before putting the whole movement together.

Cup Balance

  • To successfully stand and transfer, you must be able to balance in both seated and standing positions. Sit on a firm chair with your feet flat on the floor, or stand with your back against a wall and support next to you if needed. Open your palms and turn them to face the ceiling. Place an empty plastic cup on each palm, trying to balance the cups. Once you can balance the cups for 10 seconds, open your arms out to the sides while pulling your belly button in toward your spine. Balance the cups in this position for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position. As you get stronger, try adding some water to your cups.

Nose Over Toes

  • If you remember the phrase “nose over toes,” moving from a seated position to a standing one is easy. Sit upright on a firm chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Keeping your bottom on the chair seat, bring your chest forward until your nose is in line over your toes. As you do this, reach your arms forward. Continue to reach your chest and arms forward until you feel your tailbone lift off the chair. Don't try to stand up, just practice reaching your nose over your toes. You can reach to a walker or another person for assistance. Pause for a second, then bring your arms back down to your sides and sit upright again. Repeat up to 10 times.

Mini Squat

  • To strengthen your muscles and take strain off your back, practice a mini squat. Have someone stand in front of you and hold your hands as you practice this motion. Stand with the backs of your calves touching the front of a sturdy chair that won't slide backward. In a smooth motion, push your bottom back as if you are going to sit down, but only push back a couple of inches. As you push your bottom back, look at your partner and let your knees bend like a hinge around the chair seat. This is a mini squat. Pause for a second in the squat position, then simply shift your hips forward and return to a standing position. For correct alignment, keep your calves touching the chair throughout this exercise. Repeat up to 10 times.

Sit to Stand and Balance

  • Before you can transfer, you must be able to move from a seated position to a standing one. Sit on a sturdy chair that won't slide and place your feet flat on the floor. Perform the nose over toes exercise -- bringing your chest and arms forward until you feel your bottom start to lift off the chair. Then push your heels down into the floor and shift your hips forward like you did to get out of the mini squat. Let your torso straighten into a standing position as your hips come forward. Balance in this position for a few seconds, then return to sitting. Repeat up to 10 times.

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