The mortality rate of seniors after an unintentional fall increases significantly. Among the elderly with 38-47% of those who fall will eventually have a fatal outcome . Furthermore, one-half of those who fall are likely to fall again . To minimize falls, exercise and staying physically active is extremely important to ensure that the mind and body is constantly optimized. Unfortunately, not all exercises are created equally for fall prevention. Therefore, here are some simple but effective balance exercises that you, or an elder under your care, can do at home.
Before you begin, here are some important considerations:
1. Ensure that you do not have illness or on any medication that interferes with your balance.
2. You have a secure and steady support aid (table, barre, etc.) to hold on to, and there is no dangerous object surrounding you if you fall.
3. There is someone nearby who is able to help you.
4. Start easy and progress as you get better.
5. Try focusing on a non-moving object in front of you to help with your balance.
SHARPENED ROMBERG TEST
Hold on to a support aid (barre, table, etc.). Begin by placing one foot in front of the other in tandem, or semi-tandem. When you feel confident, let go of the support and try to balance for at least 30 seconds. Switch sides. To progress, cross your arms across your chest and hold the position. Aim to achieve at least 60 seconds on both feet.
SINGLE LEG DEAD LIFT (2)
Hold on to a support aid and stand on one foot. Once confident, slowly lower your chest towards the floor (like you’re bowing down) with a firm and braced back (don’t hunch), and push the other leg backwards. Stand tall and repeat this movement 6-10 times on each leg, and switch after.
There are many modifications you can include to make it more challenging, such as shifting your point of focus, shutting your eyes, introducing distractions and using different surfaces. When it comes to maintaining balance, frequency is key. It is recommended that you perform these exercises often enough until you see improvement. Take note of the duration you can stay balanced to measure your progress.
Photo credit: John