Senior Advice: Developing Better Balance
We’ve covered the risks of seniors falling and even how best to prevent falls in the elderly through preventative measures throughout one’s house (i.e., use of grab rails, removing scatter rugs that are not attached to the floor, etc.), yet we have not dedicated proper focus on the measures an individual can take to improve their balance. Yes, it is true that balance issues can be overturned, at least to some degree. In fact, on www.eldergym.com/elderly-balance.html, there is a wonderful set of guidelines (along with safety measures and videos that illustrate many exercises that seniors may use to improve their balance, thus helping to prevent falls).
The following points are taken from the website noted above.
As we all know, aging can naturally lead to a loss of functionality in certain body areas (nothing last forever).
Some of those areas could include:
• Loss of vision
• Loss of muscle strength in legs
• Poor posture
• Drug interactions
• Low blood pressure
When we age, many factors come into play that lead to (or add to) our increased loss of balance. For example, we all know it becomes more difficult to run as far or as fast at 60 years old as we did when we were 20 years old. I played a lot of basketball up until I was 50 years old, yet somewhere around age 35-40, I seemed to miraculously have lost the ability to jump (no “white men can’t jump” jokes please).
We just lose certain abilities with age – we can forestall those losses to some degree, but our aging bodies will eventually change. The idea here is to reduce the rate of loss of these functions connected to falls through judicious and calculated exercises focused on the retaining one’s balance. As the article states, “Like anything else in life, it is about practice.”
Just as you must exercise your brain to keep it sharp, you must exercise your body to keep it sharp. This notion, of course, is nothing new to all of you. However, the article does provide you with a well defined set of guidelines and exercises through videos (yes, you actually have to look up the article and watch the videos to get the full benefit). The exercises will enhance upper body strength, as well as lower body strength. Also noted, one of the keys is to become or remain as active as possible.
A few of the guidelines include:
• If you are uncomfortable with any of the exercises, have a partner help you.
• Begin slowly until you get used to performing each exercise.
• Become comfortable with the exercise before attempting it.
• Practice two or more of these exercises for 10 minutes each day.
• Stick with it!!!
The exercises that are depicted in the videos are:
1. Single limb stance
2. Eye tracking
3. Clock reach
4. Staggered stance
5. Single limb with arm
6. Balance wand
7. Knee marching
8. Body circles
9. Heel to toe
12. Dynamic walking
Please take a look at the website, try some of the exercises yourself then offer them to your clients, friends, relatives, and colleagues. As always, make sure to strongly suggest that all those who launch into an exercise program of any kind, check with their physician first.