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Seniors: Staying in Balance to Decrease Fall Risk

November 16, 2015

For seniors who’ve experienced the trauma of falling, it’s common to want to do whatever possible to prevent a fall from happening again.  It may seem intuitive to limit physical activity; after all, wouldn’t it be safer to skip an afternoon walk than risk taking a tumble down some steps?  Not so, according to the experts. It’s important for seniors’ overall health, well-being and confidence levels to work towards improving their balance and muscle strength.

Consult with a physician first and if cleared to start an exercise regimen, consider the following exercises recommended by the National Institute on Aging:

  • One-Foot Stand: Holding onto a sturdy chair for balance, raise one leg slightly and hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10-15 times and then switch legs.

  • Heel to Toe Walk: Place the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of the other foot, so closely that they’re touching or nearly touching. While focusing on a spot ahead of you, bring the back foot up and place in the same position in front of the toes of the other foot. Repeat for 20 steps.

  • Balancing Walk: Holding arms straight out to the sides and focusing on a spot ahead for balance, take steps forward in a straight line, pausing to lift the back leg and hold for a second. Repeat for 20 steps.

  • Standing Leg Lifts: Standing and holding onto a sturdy chair for balance, slightly bend one knee and raise the leg behind you. Do not lean forward or back, point your toes, or bend your knee any further. Hold for a second and repeat 10-15 times before switching to the other leg.

  • Side Leg Lifts: As with the standing leg lifts above, stand and hold a sturdy chair, but this time, slightly bend one leg and lift to the side. Hold for a second, lower the leg, and repeat 10-15 times and then switch to the other leg.

Most in-home care agencies are accustomed to helping seniors accomplish these types of exercises on what is called a "stand by" basis.  Or a family member can assist if the loved one is unsteady or having difficulty doing the exercises.  The important thing is to actually start or get the senior to start on a regular routine of mild exercises such as the above.

 

If a senior does need stand-by assist, AAging Better can greatly enhance the comfort and safety of seniors by providing a trained caregiver in the home to assist.  We offer a free in-home assessment performed by an RN that will create a Plan of Care outlining just the right services to bring about an improved quality of life.  To learn more, contact us any time at 208-777-0308 in the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls area, 208-263-7889 in the Bonners Ferry/Sandpoint area, or 208-784-1505 in the Kellogg/Wallace area.

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