Improve Your Balance to Prevent Falls: 5 Tips for Seniors
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one in three seniors over the age of 65 suffer a fall each year. Nearly 1.6 million of these injured seniors require an emergency room visit and approximately 5,000 of these falls are fatal. The NIH also asserts falls are the largest cause of hospital admissions, fracture and loss of vitality or independence for seniors. The loss of balance that accompanies age is a key reason for these unwanted falls and their resulting injuries. Here are 5 senior home care tips to help improve your balance, and quality of life.
Performing the correct exercises is the most effective way to improve your balance. Speak to your physician before performing these exercises and use caution to prevent a fall or other serious injury. Simple exercises include simply standing from a seated position without using your hands to shifting your weight from one leg to the other. While you’re waiting in line or using the phone, stand on one leg to help improve your balance. These exercises are most effective if performed daily and over time they will help improve an elderly person’s balance, and quality of life. If you need assistance with these exercises, ask your senior home care company for assistance.
Coordination and Posture
Coordination and posture play crucial role in maintaining balance, especially for persons over 65. To help maintain balance, watch your posture in the standing and sitting position. Stand tall with your shoulder’s square and your head straight forward. Practicing Tai Chi -- a form of martial arts that promotes meditation through slow, fluid motions -- and Yoga are excellent ways to maintain and improve your coordination and balance.
Your eye’s ability to communicate information to the brain is crucial to maintaining proper balance. Improve your eyesight, and in turn your balance, by performing a simple exercise 4 to 5 times a day. Remembering to mind your posture, sit in a sturdy chair and choose an object to focus on that is at least 10 to 20 feet away. Keeping your eyes focused on the object, slowly stand from the sitting position and sit back down. Close your eyes and repeat the process of standing and sitting slowly. Use a chair with arm rests if you are having difficulty maintaining your balance during this exercise.
Hearing and Eye Checks
Have you eyesight and hearing checked on a yearly basis to help maintain your balance. Your hearing plays a vital role in balance and should be monitored for any impairments and needs. Visit your optometrist regularly to monitor your eyeglass prescriptions, and update them when necessary. Glaucoma, cataracts and other eye conditions also effect balance and must be monitored accordingly. Hearing and eye checks are very important. If you are not able to drive, ask a family member or utilize a senior home care service.
Check your medications for any potential side effects that affect your balance. Use a cane or walker when necessary and keep your home well-lit to prevent injury. Keep your floors clutter free and pay attention that your rugs and carpets are firmly attached to the floor. Wear wider shoes that feature rubber soles, as these are more stable.
If none of the above-mentioned exercises and tips were helpful, it’s crucial you or an elderly loved one speaks to a physician. There are several tests available to test a senior’s gait, coordination and balance to determine if a medical deficiency is present. One of the main tests administered to seniors is the Tinetti, or Performance-Orientated Mobility Assessment, test. During the exam the senior is placed in a chair and asked to perform various tasks and movements, such as bending and standing, to test his balance and the overall score determines a potential fall risk.
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