Statistics show that the primary reason that individuals over the age of 65 go to the emergency room is because of a trip or fall accident. If you have good balance and remain active, the likelihood of falling is reduced.
If you notice your aging loved is struggling with balance, struggling to get up off of the couch or are in need of a cane to help with balance, you may want to talk with their doctor to see about incorporating balance techniques into their day. The reason you want to talk with their doctor is to make sure they’re healthy enough to do any of the following exercises to help improve balance.
Physical therapists say that aging may not be the only reason that seniors become “wobbly.” They say that our muscles weaken as we age (actually when we hit the age of 30, it begins) and if we don’t focus on stability and balance it is easy to lose it – the ability to walk without the risk of falling increases. Remaining active and maintaining balance could actually lead to a longer, more productive life. Health problems related to trips and falls and hip fractures result in the death of more women annually than many other health issues combined.
What can you do to enhance your stability? Here are some easy steps to take:
- Stand on one leg. At various times throughout the day, stand on one leg and try to hold that pose for 30 seconds per leg. If you’re wobbly, stand next to a chair. Once you can hold that pose for 30 seconds, make it harder by closing your eyes while you stand on one leg.
- When you’re walking, walk heel to toe. Taking 25 steps forward, heel to toe, then backward to help with stability.
- Find a tai chi class that is geared toward seniors. These classes involve slow, measured movements and can help increase stability.
- Do squats because strong leg muscles could help you remain upright in the event you stumble. To do a squat, stand with your feet hip width apart and bend your knees. Slowly lower yourself as if you were going to sit in a chair. Hold your arms out in front of you and do these in sets of ten, working up to 30.
- Propel yourself out of your chair at such force that you take a couple of running steps. Rather than pushing yourself out of your chair with your arms, leap out of it.
Here are some exercises you can do to test your balance and see if you are in need of the balancing exercises above:
- Stand with your feet together, ankles touching, arms folded and close your eyes. You should be able to stand for 60 seconds without having to move your feet. You may sway a little and that is all right.
- Stand on one foot and bend your other knee. Lift your foot off the floor without resting it on your standing leg. You should be able to hold this pose (on each leg) for at least 25 seconds.
- Stand on one foot, put your hands on your hips, place your foot against the inside of your standing leg and hold that pose for 25 seconds. It is a pose that is used in yoga to improve balance.
Getting a good night’s sleep can go a long way in helping improve not only your balance, but your overall health. It’s been shown that lack of sleep can lead to trip and fall accidents.
If you’re a caregiver and worry about your aging loved ones taking a tumble, you may want to consider adding a home medical alert device with fall detection. In the event they have a medical emergency, the push of a button will alert the Care Agents and provide access to help when needed. With the addition of fall detection the system will alert the Care Agents in the event a fall is detected, should it occur. Because no fall detection system can detect 100% of all falls, the standard medical alert pendant is a valuable asset.