A fall can be a devastating, even life-changing event for an older adult. According to NIH Senior Health, more than 1.6 million seniors in the US are admitted to the emergency room each year due to fall-related injuries. Falls are also the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury-related deaths among seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the ways that older adults can stay independent and reduce their chances of falling is through regular exercise that focuses on increasing leg strength and improving balance.
Balance is one of the functions that begins to deteriorate in our golden years, and loss of balance means a higher susceptibility to falls. There are a number of exercises that can help improve balance; any exercise program should build gradually to avoid burnout, boredom, or injuries. Ask the doctor if the following strength and balance exercises are right for your senior loved one:
- Knee Lifts: Try to lift your knee as high as your hip using a secure object to assist in maintaining balance. As you grow stronger, decrease the tendency to lean on a support, and try holding the leg up for 3 seconds or longer.
- Point and Flex: While sitting, point your toes and then flex them. Repeat with both feet.
- Toe Tapping: While sitting, tap your toes. Repeat with both feet.
- Sit-to-Stand: When necessary, use a chair for support when standing and again when returning to a sitting position. Try to gradually decrease use of your arms as your legs get stronger.
- Calf Muscle Strengthener: While holding onto a wall, chair or the kitchen sink, repeatedly raise yourself up and down on tiptoes. As your strength improves, go higher up on your toes and eventually try it on one foot at a time.
- Shin Muscle Strengthener: Lean your back against a wall with your heels placed seven to eight inches away from the wall. Lift the toes of both of your feet off the ground as high as possible.
- One-legged Stand: Hold onto a secure object during balance training, such as a sturdy chair. Lift one leg off the ground and try to maintain balance on your standing leg.
The slow, controlled movements and breathing and muscle activity of Tai Chi have also been shown to help improve balance and gait among older adults. At North River Home Care of Norwell, MA, we strive to help all our clients live safer and healthier lives at home. Contact our team today to learn how our home care services can help your loved ones stay fit, safe, and happy as they receive the dedicated care and attention they need and deserve.