Falls are a huge public health problem. 1 out of 3 older adults (age 65 or older) fall every year. Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. The good news is most falls can be prevented. Follow these guidelines.
- Activities such as walking, water workouts and yoga can improve strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.
- Wear proper footwear: properly fitted shoes with non skid soles.
- Know your surroundings: Wet leaves, black ice and uneven surfaces such as cobblestone walkways can be a fall hazard. (BE AWARE!)
What can you do at home to prevent falls?
- Remove electrical cords and phone cords from walk ways.
- Secure loose rugs with double sided tape.
- Install non slip mats in the shower.
- Turn on lights before going up or down stairways.
- Install a grab bar at the bathtub entrance.
- Do not go up or down stairs in stocking feet.
BASIC EXERCISES: For improved balance and posture the following exercises can be done using a folding chair. Stand behind the chair holding on with both hands. Start with a goal of performing 10 repetitions. Stop the exercise and see a physician if you feel any pain or discomfort.
Stand with legs shoulder width apart. Bend knees as if you are sitting in a chair until knees line up with toes and return to start position.
Stand up straight and alternately bring one knee up to a 90 degree angle. Return to start position and repeat with opposite leg.
Stand flat footed and raise up on toes. Return to start position.
Begin standing on both legs and slowly raise one leg out to side.
Stand on one leg. Swing other leg forward and backward. Repeat with other leg.
In addition light weight training using dumbbells can help improve overall body strength which can help you maintain a correct posture. Overhead press, chest fly, bicep curls, triceps extensions are some of the effective exercises.
In the recent Fighting Falls class offered by Mashpee Fitness all four of the participants that took the Berg Balance test before and after the program showed improvement in basic balance in the areas of: stand from a sitting position, leaning forward on toes, picking items up from the floor, standing with feet together, standing on one leg and stepping up a simulated flight of stairs. Balance can be improved. Are you ready to start fighting falls?
Blog post by Alan Harrison.