Maintaining healthy body balance is one of the most important tasks for people of any age, but this is especially true for seniors. There are many reasons why one’s balance may be off-kilter, including inner ear problems, arthritis, poor vision, and medication side effects. Often, we ignore balance problems, assuming that it is just a part of growing older. But balance difficulties can cause a wide variety of issues, one of the most dangerous being an increased risk of falling.
This is a real problem since according to the American Family Physician, 70 percent of accidental deaths in those over the age of 75 are caused by falls. The falls that aren’t fatal often lead to one needing in-home care or being placed in a nursing home. But thankfully, there are ways to keep yourself or your family member well-balanced and out of an elderly home. Really, all it takes is a little exercise and self-care.
The best way for seniors to avoid falls and to avoid having to rely on in-home care is to exercise. This might seem a little strange. After all, wouldn’t it make sense that since exercising requires balance, these kinds of activities would put them at higher risk for a fall? But it’s actually quite the opposite. There are easy exercises that can keep seniors steady on their feet and allow them to avoid the elderly home while maintaining the independence of living alone. These include:
Wall push-ups are one of the easiest exercises to perform because they require nothing except yourself and a wall. You begin by standing in front of a wall. Then, lean forward gently placing your palms on the wall and push back. This exercise not only helps with balance but also strength training.
Squat To a Chair
One of the hardest tasks for seniors trying to avoid respite care or being placed in an elderly home is getting into or out of a seated position. With this exercise, you stand in front of a chair with your feet apart (hip-width.) Next, bend your knees and lower yourself into a hovering or sitting position. This activity not only boosts stability, but it also strengthens the knees and the hips.
For those with balance issues while standing, the flamingo stance is a great exercise. With a chair in front of you, stand on one leg. If you can extend your arms upward, do so. If that’s too tricky, you can hold onto the chair as you extend your leg outward. Practice this stance by standing on each leg for at least 10 seconds.
If you want to try something a little more tricky, try the balancing wand. Balance a cane, broom, or umbrella in the palm of your hand. The goal of this senior exercise is to keep it steady and upright as long as possible.
Other Things You Can Do
If at-home exercise alone can’t help or your loved one can avoid in-home care for balance issues, consider the following:
- Joining a fitness group or consult a trainer at the local gym.
- Eating a healthy diet that doesn’t contribute to balance-related health issues.
- Using a walking aid (like a cane or walker) if it helps avoid in-home care and keeps your balance.
- Keep a check on your vision, keep your home free from clutter, and ask family and friends for assistance when doing things that require a great deal of stability.
- Consult your doctor if you feel dizzy frequently or your balance continues to decline.
At the end of the day, if the balance issues you or your loved one face doesn’t improve, you may have to consider hiring some form of in-home care services. Cranberry Home Care includes companion services that encourage seniors to exercise at home, and by participating in community activities.