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Senior Fall Prevention Tips and Balance Improvement Exercises

Apr 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of Riverside and Corona

Some of us classify ourselves as naturally clumsy. From tripping over a curb to falling over in high heels, this clumsiness is shown throughout our lives in different ways.

Unfortunately, this clumsiness may be more than just a quirky feature – it could imply a poor sense of balance.

As we get older, our balance naturally begins to worsen, too, which can be very dangerous. A simple fall for a senior can lead to an array of injuries, many of which require hospitalization – and some of which can be fatal.

Falling in your older years is therefore to be avoided at all costs.

So, whether you consider yourself “clumsy” or not, you may want to keep reading:

What Causes Falls?

There are many events or conditions that can cause our balance to falter more so than normal. Examples include:

  • Medications. Certain medications on their own can make you dizzy or fatigued, such as antidepressants or sedatives, but if you take several medications, they could be interacting together to throw your balance all out of whack.
  • Motion sickness/sea sickness. This is because your visual field is out of balance with your inner ear, causing you to feel dizzy and sick.
  • Postural hypotension. This is the sensation you feel when you stand up too fast and feel lightheaded.
  • Nerve damage. This could be from trauma such as a car crash, or from conditions like diabetes.
  • Vertigo. Inner ear problems or other causes can lead to this sensation of spinning or dizziness.
  • Neurological conditions. These include anything from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s, to strokes or multiple sclerosis. These all affect the brain directly, thus affecting balance as well.

Some balance issues caused by these things can be rid of or at least reduced by proper management of your conditions and medications, but there is another way to improve your balance.

Exercises to Improve Balance

There is no way to passively improve your balance – strength-training exercises are the only proven method to help.

Here are some moves to try daily to start increasing your balance immediately:

  • Pump your ankles when you wake up. If you get dizzy when first getting out of bed, sit on the edge of it and pump your ankles up and down a little bit before attempting to stand. Take a deep breath and, with strength, stand up slowly.
  • Sit-to-stand, unassisted. For this exercise, begin by sitting in a chair. Then, without using your arms to help you stand up or for balance whatsoever, stand up. Do this several times.
  • Heel-to-toe. Get into a big open space or a long hallway. Just as the name implies, take 10 steps forward, each time walking heel-to-toe. These steps will be slower and require more focus, but this is an effective way to improve your balance.
  • One-leg stands. Begin by standing. Without grabbing onto anything, raise one leg up, bending your knee to about 45 degrees. Hold this pose for 10 seconds. Place the leg down, and repeat for the other leg. Do this 10 times for each leg.

You can also sign up for a tai chi or yoga class at your local gym or senior center.

Other Ways to Prevent Falls

Alongside these exercises, also consider adding the following tips to your arsenal of fall-prevention methods:

  • Deal with your foot pain. Perhaps you’re at risk for falling because your feet are in pain, or your shoes are so unsupportive that they hurt your feet. Getting the right footwear and/or medicine to treat this pain can help remove this issue from your list of tripping hazards.
  • Use mobility aids. Your pride may be telling you that you’re not at the point of needing a walker yet, but your poor balance may say otherwise. Don’t be embarrassed to use a cane, walker, or even a wheelchair if you need to – your safety is worth more than others seeing you needing some help.
  • Make your home senior-friendly. Making some simple modifications to your home can make it much more safer for you. Installing grab bars, getting rid of slippery throw rugs or rearranging furniture, and other things can help make your home easier to navigate, thus reducing your risk of falling.

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