Falls are a major concern for seniors and elderly care providers alike. Declining strength, coordination, mobility, and visibility all increase seniors’ risk of falling. Meanwhile, poor bone strength can increase the risk of severe fractures. Together, these risk factors have made falls the number one cause of accidental death among Americans over the age of sixty-five.
The good news is that it’s possible to lower that risk. Both medical and elderly care professionals recommend a number of fall prevention strategies that can help seniors and family caregivers lower elderly adults’ risk of falling. One of the best ways to do this is to have seniors take classes that improve their sense of balance and reduce their risk of injury from falls.
Exercise Improves Balance in Seniors
In terms of fall prevention, light/moderate exercise offers a number of benefits. Improved muscular strength helps seniors stay upright and maintain their footing. Cardiovascular exercise boosts heart health, which reduces the risk of exhaustion — a common risk factor for falls. Crucially, exercise also improves seniors’ sense of balance, making it less likely that they will misjudge their footing or put their body in a position that leads to a fall.
Exercise also lowers the risk of severe injury when falls occur. Stronger muscles and quicker reaction time make it easier for seniors to catch themselves when off-balance or brace themselves to reduce the impact of a fall. Physical activity is also key to bone strength, reducing the risk and severity of fractures.
Activities to Improve Seniors’ Balance
Some types of exercise are better suited than others when seniors want to improve balance and reduce the risk of fall-related injuries. Seniors and elderly care providers should look for activities that boost core strength, leg strength, coordination, dexterity, and fine motor skills.
The three activities below are some of the best exercise for improving balance in elderly adults. Seniors can perform these activities in the comfort of home, in the backyard, or with others. You should be able to find senior-focused classes for these activities quite easily within your local community.
- Dancing isn’t just great fun for elderly adults — it’s also an excellent way to improve physical dexterity, strengthen leg and core muscles, and boost total-body coordination. There are a number of popular dance classes for elderly adults, including salsa, jazz, and ballroom.
- Tai Chi. Tai Chi started in China as a form of martial arts, but its health benefits have made it a popular form of exercise in many countries. Seniors’ Tai Chi involves slow, controlled movements that use the entire body. This helps improve coordination, muscle strength, and balance. Medical professionals and elderly care providers often recommend it for seniors due to its low risk of injury and joint stress.
- Yoga is well known for its lifelong benefits. While some yoga classes offer higher intensity workouts, you’ll find a slower, gentler pace in a seniors’ yoga classes. Yoga poses can improve strength, coordination, flexibility, and offer key balance benefits for elderly adults.
Additional Balance and Fall Prevention Tips
Activities that improve balance are just part of elderly fall prevention. We asked Visiting Angels CEO and President Larry Meigs for additional tips on how seniors and elderly care providers can prevent falls in and out of the home.
One of Larry’s biggest tips is medication awareness. “A large number of seniors take medications that put them at higher risk of falling. It’s important that seniors are careful with any medication that causes drowsiness or poor coordination,” he says.
He also stressed the importance of visibility in fall prevention. “Poor eyesight can be a much bigger danger than a lot of people think, so make sure your mom or dad has regular check-ins with their optometrist.”
Another big factor is limiting fall risks in living spaces. “The vast majority of falls happen at home,” Larry says. “Unfortunately, most seniors live in homes where fall risks haven’t been minimized. Slippery flooring, thow rugs, electrical cords, poorly lit areas — these are just a few of the most common culprits.”
Larry’s focus on fall prevention is part of the reason why Visiting Angels elderly care agencies offer free fall prevention assessments. During elderly care consultations, care directors perform detailed inspections of seniors’ homes and make fall prevention recommendations to help correct any areas of concern.
To book a free elderly care consultation and fall assessment for your loved one, contact Visiting Angels today at 800-365-4189. Or use our online office locator to find your local Visiting Angels elderly care agency. 3 Senior Activities that Improve Balance & Prevent Falls
3 Senior Activities that Improve Balance & Prevent Falls
3 Senior Activities that Improve Balance & Prevent Falls 3 Senior Activities that Improve Balance & Prevent Falls 3 Senior Activities that Improve Balance & Prevent Falls 3 Senior Activities that Improve Balance & Prevent Falls 3 Senior Activities that Improve Balance & Prevent Falls
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