Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury for older adults. These falls can take a toll on their physical and mental health, particularly when life-altering injuries are involved. While slipping and falling can happen to anyone at any age, it’s more common in older adults because they begin to lose their balance.
Let’s learn more about how balance works and ways to improve your own stability.
Why Good Balance is Important
Having good balance is more complex than you probably realize. That’s because it requires many systems to work together, including your vision, vestibular system in the inner ear and proprioception or ability to sense where your body is. Additionally, you need good muscle strength and a quick reaction time. If one of these systems is out of whack, you can easily lose your balance.
It’s estimated that one in four people over the age of 65 fall at least once a year. Some of these falls result in serious injuries that require long recovery times and physical therapy. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, the best thing you can do is practice good balance. Without practice, balance and stability will continue to decline.
Ways to Improve Your Balance
Whether you have balance problems due to medication, chronic illness or inactivity, there are some simple exercises you can do on your own. Focus on low impact exercises that will help you improve your strength and stability. Of course, be sure to discuss any new exercise regimen with your doctor.
Below you’ll find some simple stability exercises we recommend to our clients. You can also find more in-home exercises in this post from August when we discussed ways to keep fit when receiving home health care.
- One-legged stands. Stand on one foot for 30 seconds, then switch to the other foot. In the beginning, it’s best to use a chair for support.
- Heel rises. While standing, rise up on your toes as far as you can. Drop back to the starting position and repeat 10-20 times.
- Heel-to-toe walk. Take 20 steps forward while looking straight ahead.
- Sit-to-stand. Using a chair, get up and sit back down without using your hands. Do this 10-20 times.
- Use a balance board. Balance on a rocker board by shifting your weight from side to side.
Poor balance can lead to a cycle of inactivity, which further worsens stability and puts you at risk for additional health problems. Fortunately, you can practice good balance by staying active and doing some simple exercises at home. Not only will you reap the benefits of a stronger heart and lungs, but also you can enjoy improved stability, greater independence and faster recovery times.