Fall Prevention for Older Adults: Balance and Strength Exercises

Fall Prevention for Older Adults: Balance and Strength Exercises
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As we age, falls can have very negative effects. Therefore, older adults need some exercises to increase strength and balance for fall prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25% of people aged 65 or over suffer a fall each year, and 3 million fall-related injuries are treated in emergency rooms.

What causes falls in older people?

In older adults, the risk of falling is typically influenced by a number of factors, including:

  • Issues with walking or balance. Changes in vision, vestibular issues, and changes in foot sensation can all influence balance.
  • The taking of numerous drugs. According to studies, people are more likely to fall when they take five or more medications.
  • Home risks (including dim lighting and trip hazards)
  • Positional hypotension, which occurs when a person stands up suddenly and their blood pressure falls.
  • Foot and shoe problems
  • The risk of falling is increased among older persons who have mild cognitive impairment or particular forms of dementia.
  • You may lose your balance and fall as a result of a number of illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, or issues with your nerves, foot, thyroid, or blood vessels.
  • Falls frequently happen in the bathroom while getting up fast to go to the toilet or shower, or at night in a dark bedroom when tripping on the way to the bathroom.

Exercises for fall prevention

Older persons may find it difficult or unsteady to do tasks like crouching, standing up from a chair, and walking, which increases their risk of falling. The exercises for fall prevention that are listed below are designed for people who have a low risk of falling and can stand alone.

Sit-to-Stand Exercise

The sit-to-stand exercise enhances balance, body mechanics, and leg strength, all of which are crucial for fall prevention.

  • To begin, seated, make sure the chair is stable, at regular height, and won't roll or slide. With your feet flat on the floor, you ought to be able to sit comfortably. In order to be able to grab it for support if you start to feel unstable when standing, have a firm support surface nearby, such as a countertop. Your buttocks should be in front of the seat as you move forward.
  • Shift your weight forward while leaning your chest forward over your toes. As you slowly climb to a steady standing position, squeeze your gluteal muscles.
  • Slowly return to the beginning position and repeat 10 times.
  • To assist in standing and sitting, put your hands on the chair's arms or seat, if necessary, and push through them. The objective is to completely avoid using your hands.

Perform 10 repetitions twice daily. Hold hand weights to add resistance for an advanced variant.

Stop exercising and consult your doctor or physical therapist if you get hip, back, or knee pain.

Exercises for Balance

If you have an unstable balance, try this set of exercises. To prevent falling, make sure someone is with you.

To start, stand in a corner or have a kitchen counter in front of you so you can grab it if you start to lose your balance.

Feet apart: Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your eyes open, and holding still for 10 seconds before increasing that time to 30.

Simply practice this exercise until you can complete it with little to no swaying or support if you find yourself grabbing for the wall or counter or swaying frequently. Start the following exercise as soon as you can maintain this position for 30 seconds.

Feet together: Stand with your feet together and your eyes open for 10 seconds. Eventually, you should be able to keep your position for 30 seconds.

Go on to the next exercise if you can do the previous one for 30 seconds without needing much assistance or swaying.

One foot: Stand on one foot with your eyes open for 10 seconds, then try for 30. Change to your other foot.

Eyes closed: Try performing each of the first three exercises with your eyes closed if you can do so safely and with minimal assistance. Working up to 30 seconds, hold for 10 seconds.

For each exercise, the target time is 10 seconds, with a progression to 30 seconds, five repetitions (including five per leg for the one-foot exercise), and twice daily.

Additional fall prevention strategies

Do not forget to discuss fall prevention with your physician or physical therapist.

  • Talk to your doctor about any changes to your medication schedule.
  • If you fall, let your doctor know.
  • Instruct a friend or member of your family to look around your house for fall risks.

Final word

While falls cannot entirely be avoided, the chance of falling can be decreased with exercises that focus on balance and muscle training. For fall prevention in the future, these exercises can strengthen the body and enhance balance. Always consult your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any new exercises, especially if you have poor balance. For safety, supervision, and in case you need assistance, it is ideal to exercise with the company at home.