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7 ways to improve balance and prevent falls amongst seniors

7 ways to improve balance and prevent falls amongst seniors

Falls don’t “just happen,” and people don’t fall because they get older. Often, more than one underlying cause or risk factor is involved in a fall.

Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of many falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.

  • Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
  • Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners).
  • Many people, who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities and confine themselves into their rooms. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.

What Conditions Make You More Likely to fall?

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:

  • Balance Issues
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
  • Low muscle strength
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants.
  • Vision problems
  • Neuropathy
  • Environmental Hazards
    • Broken or uneven steps,
    • Throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and
    • No handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors.

Strength building for improving balance amongst seniors

Research currently shows that our risk of falls is greatly influenced by the large reductions in muscle strength that occur secondary to sarcopenia (the term used to refer to loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength as a result of ageing) (Horling et al. 2008).

Strength training helps maintain muscle mass, bone density, and strength, and enhances the ability to function in daily life, and improves balance. Thus reducing a person’s chances of  fall due to loss of balance.

Apart from strength training there are various exercises that can be practiced to strengthen the muscles and the part of the brain that helps in maintaining balance. In balance training mirror can be a fairly important and easily accessible tool that can be used while practicing these exercises and giving the person an idea of the degree of the problem.

1) Here are some of the exercises that can be done by the elderly with little or no help to check and improve their balance can be read below.

2) Stand in front of the mirror and extend your hand .Observe the sway in your body and then try to control it and stand still in front of the mirror .

3) Repeat this same exercise but this time with closed eyes and control the sway.

4) Stand in front of the mirror in the walking position (one leg forward another backward), stretch your arms out and try to stand still in the position for five minutes.

5) Repeat the same exercise with closed eyes and try not to sway.

6) Stick a duct tape across the floor in a straight line and try to walk with the feet on both the sides of the tape.

7) Try to walk with one foot in front of the other in a straight line with no sway. (This is the dynamic exercise and can only be achieved after a lot of practicing with balancing exercises).

However make sure that you have someone with you while doing these balancing exercises.

Falls are not a necessary part of aging and do not “have” to happen, they can be prevented by adopting some changes and incorporating some easy exercises on a regular basis by our seniors.

Great Times by Samvedna is our new social and recreational club in Sector 43, Gurgaon, for members 55 years and above. Its a place where members come to get fit, meet like minded people and share their life experiences and give back to the community.

Activities at the club include fitness exercises, mind stimulation, tambola, dancing, book reviews, movies, community outreach, and talks on health management. The club has a library, computer room, visits by physiotherapists and doctors, access to board games and cards, a fully functional pantry with healthy and affordable snacks and tea and coffee on the house.

Transportation is available on select routes. There are special discounts for group memberships. The club is open Monday-Friday, 11am to 4pm. There are special classes for yoga, computers, spoken english, dance, music and painting. We also have Bridge mornings every Tuesday and Thursday.

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