10 Nov 7 Ways for Seniors to Improve Their Balance
Poor balance is a major contributing to fall-related injuries in seniors. Research shows that roughly one in three seniors will fall in any given year. While some of these falls are harmless, others can lead to severe injury. Fortunately, there are ways for seniors to improve their balance and lower their risk of fall-related injuries.
#1) Walk More Frequently
Walking can improve a senior’s balance. A report by Harvard University indicates that walking promotes stronger leg and lower-body muscles, thus improving balance. Seniors who are sedentary are more likely to experience balance problems than their active counterparts because they have weaker leg and lower-body muscles. When these muscles are weak, they can’t adequately support the weight of a senior’s body. By walking more frequently, seniors can build stronger leg and lower-body muscles so that they are better protected against balance problems.
#2) Manage Joint Pain
Seniors who experience poor balance should focus on managing and preventing joint pain. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), joint pain is the leading cause of balance and gait problems in seniors. When a senior suffers from joint pain, he or she may struggle to maintain proper balance. Therefore, managing and preventing joint pain is important for seniors with poor balance.
#3) Stay Hydrated
Another way seniors can improve their balance is by staying hydrated. Water helps to supply muscle tissue with much-needed electrolytes. Seniors who are dehydrated often have low levels of electrolytes, resulting in muscle cramps and spasms. These cramps and spasms can make it difficult for seniors to maintain their balance. Staying hydrated, of course, will counter these effects by ensuring that a senior’s muscles have the necessary electrolytes to function.
#4) Tightrope Walk Exercises
There are certain exercises that seniors can perform to improve their balance, one of which is the tightrope walk. As the name suggests, the tightrope walk exercise involves walking on a straight line — similar to how an acrobat or gymnast walks a tightrope. It can be performed in any open space, whether indoors or outdoors. By performing the tightrope walk exercise, seniors will strengthen their muscles while improving their balance in the process.
Here are the basic steps to performing the tightrope exercise:
- Find an open space that’s free of obstruction and tripping or slipping hazards.
- Extend arms horizontally to the sides.
- Look forward while maintaining a vertical posture.
- While holding arms to the sides, place one foot in front of the other.
- Continue walking for about 20 steps.
- Turn around and reverse direction while performing an additional 20 steps.
#4) Participate in Yoga
Along with tightrope walk exercises, yoga can help seniors improve their balance. Yoga has been around for thousands of years. As you may know, it consists of postures and breathing techniques that incorporate physical and mental relaxation. Yoga offers a myriad of benefits for seniors, including better balance. It allows seniors to stretch and engage their muscles — specifically their lower-body muscles — so that they are less susceptible to balance problems.
#5) Manage Blood Pressure
Both high and low blood pressure can affect a senior’s balance. When a senior’s blood pressure drops or rises beyond the “normal” level, he or she may feel dizzy or light-headed. When this occurs, the senior may have trouble maintaining his or her balance. High blood pressure and low blood pressure can cause other problems as well, so it’s important for seniors to control it.
To manage blood pressure, seniors must get into the habit of checking their blood pressure levels on a regular basis. They don’t have to do it themselves. Rather, a physician can check a senior’s blood pressure levels. After getting the senior’s blood pressure levels, the physician can recommend medication or lifestyle changes needed to achieve healthy levels.
#6) Beware of Headaches
Headaches are often a contributing factor in balance problems for seniors. According to WebMD, over half of all women over the age of 75 experience headaches, while a little over one in four men of the same age experience headaches. Headaches, of course, can affect a senior’s balance. If a senior suffers from a headache, he or she may experience vertigo or similar conditions that adversely affect the senior’s balance. When a headache occurs, seniors should use caution when walking to minimize their risk of falling and succumbing to physical injury.
#7) Get the Right Footwear
Seniors should consider replacing their footwear if they experience balance problems. Shoes can degrade. Over time, they’ll lose their ability to absorb shock. As a result, seniors may struggle to maintain their balance when wearing them. When should seniors replace their footwear exactly? It really depends on the type of shoes as well as how often the senior wears them. With that said, most shoes will degrade after about a year. By replacing their footwear annually, seniors can improve their balance and lower their risk of fall-related injuries.