Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults, but a good sense of balance can go a long way towards preventing them. In a review of clinical trials published in the BMJ, researchers found that better balance lowers the risk of incurring a serious injury during a fall as well. While a variety of physical activities ranging from tai chi and yoga to dance classes can improve balance, these five simple exercises recommended by New Hampshire senior home care experts can be performed in any environment and as often as possible.
1. Standing on One Foot
Older adults should be able to stand on one foot for at least 10 seconds without having to put the other foot down to catch their balance. Your elderly family member can work on this skill by using a chair for support until balance improves.
2. Walking Heel to Toe
The ability to walk a straight line heel-to-toe is an indication of good balance. To get the full benefit of this exercise, seniors should avoid looking down when practicing and should instead focus straight ahead.
3. Slow Marching
Lifting the knee and holding the position for one second before taking another step is another good walking exercise. The leg can be lifted behind and held for one second in that position, too. Your loved one can extend both arms to the side while practicing or use a nearby wall for support.
4. Toe Stands
Lifting the heels so that the weight shifts to the toes and balls of the feet is a simple exercise that seniors can perform anywhere. Encourage your loved one to use extra support like a chair or counter until the skill is mastered.
5. Strength-Building Exercises
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found exercises that strengthened the lower limbs like leg extensions and curls were highly effective in enhancing balance. Stronger legs can also give seniors the muscle power they need to recover their balance should they start to fall.
At Home Care Assistance in New Hampshire, we know some seniors stop exercising because they need additional support during physical activity. Get your loved one back on track with an hourly caregiver who can provide mobility support and offer emotional support and encouragement to keep with it. Our caregivers can also supplement your loved one’s exercise routine with our Balanced Care Method, which focuses on a holistic approach to senior health and wellness. To learn more, call a friendly Care Manager at (603) 471-3004.