Seniors love their independence, but it’s no secret that they’re afraid of falling. And rightfully so. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that falls happen to one in four seniors annually, making falls a public safety issue. Furthermore, the CDC and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that, “Falls among adults aged 65 and older are common, costly, and preventable. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults.”
Also, according to the National Library of Medicine, “As we age, we lose balance function through loss of sensory elements, the ability to integrate information and issue motor commands, and because we lose musculoskeletal function. Diseases common in aging populations lead to further deterioration in balance function in some patients.” Medications can also alter your loved one’s balance.
The good news is that loss of balance can be reversible. So, how exactly can seniors improve their balance to decrease injuries?
Seniors need proper balance for walking as well as for everyday functions like getting in and out of bed and getting on and off the toilet. Fortunately, most simple exercises can be completed in the convenience of their own home while waiting for coffee to brew or while watching a favorite television show.
Note: Consult your loved one’s medical professional before starting any new exercise regimen.
These exercises can help seniors improve their balance:
- March in place while keeping elbows bent and the back straight. Keep knees lower at first. Raise them higher over time.
- Walk heel to toe like a tightrope walker.
- Practice standing on one foot. Make sure that a counter or chair is nearby so your loved one can steady themselves if needed.
- Walk 30 minutes a day to significantly reduce the risk of hip fracture. (Routinely climbing stairs decreases the fracture risk more!)
- Keep flexible by rotating one foot five times in a circular, clockwise motion, then five times counterclockwise while sitting in a chair. Repeat with the other foot.
Palos Verdes area senior centers and Torrance Memorial offer group exercise classes. Your loved one can get fit while improving their balance and enjoying social interaction, too!
Generally, resistance training, yoga, and lifting are great activities for boosting a senior’s balance. Click here for more information.
These simple tips will help seniors improve their balance, too. Your loved one can try to:
- Focus their eyes on an object ahead instead of looking down at their feet.
- Carry a small flashlight on a keyring so nighttime tripping hazards are illuminated.
- Understand which of their legs is dominant.
- Remember to never stand up too quickly.
While seniors improve their balance with exercises, it’s imperative that their loved ones assist with making sure their home is as safe as possible:
- Ensure that carpets and rugs are flat on the floor.
- Add handrails to staircases and grab bars in bathrooms.
- Help get rid of bulky furniture or clutter that could cause tripping especially near doorways and stairs.
- Install more lighting in dim areas or add night lights in areas like stairwells, bathrooms, and hallways.
- Make sure corded lamps and appliances aren’t creating tripping hazards.
Falls are dangerous and threaten your loved one’s independence and quality of life. Individual and/or group exercises can improve balance issues and significantly reduce the risk of falls and fractures. Ensure that there are no tripping hazards in your loved one’s living spaces.
A Peaceful Way Home Care is here to help your loved one stay independent and content in their own home. Call us for a consultation today!