elderly fall prevention

Balancing Exercises for Elderly Fall Prevention

As we age, it becomes more and more important to take care of our bodies and take precautions to protect ourselves, especially from the risk of falling. Age can turn falls into dangerous—and even deadly—mishaps, so it’s important to ensure that your loved ones are safe. Are you worried about the possibility of an older person falling? There are elderly fall prevention steps that can be taken to reduce that risk.

Elderly Fall Risks

Falling can be a serious problem for older adults, and it’s more common than you may think. Each year, more than one out of four older people experience a fall. These falls can have serious consequences, such as broken bones (particularly hips), head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and death.

While anyone can experience a fall, there are factors that may make your loved one more susceptible to falling. These include:

  • Weakness in the legs or hips, or difficulty walking
  • Foot pain or ineffective footwear
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Certain medications, including sedatives and antidepressants
  • Vision problems
  • Recovering from a recent surgery or medical event
  • Environmental factors, such as stairs or clutter to trip over

Elderly Fall Prevention Preparedness

Many elderly people have a combination of these risk factors; the more they have, the more likely it is that they will experience a fall. It’s important to address as many of these factors as possible to ensure your loved one is safe. Some may involve simple fixes, but others might necessitate a temporary or permanent change in their lifestyle. Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Address environmental factors. Consider their daily environment, especially if they live alone. Do they regularly make it up and down stairs on their own? They may benefit from safety measures such as new banisters or a chair lift. Are there throw rugs or other clutter that could get in their way? Suggest downsizing some of their belongings (and help them do it!). Helping them get organized and get rid of unnecessary clutter reduces their risk of tripping.
  • Focus on the footwear. Pay attention to your loved one’s shoes. Are they too big? Too small? Are they worn out or otherwise likely to cause a fall? If you’re not sure, try taking them to a shoe store for a fitting.
  • Keep a healthy diet. The food we eat has a big role in keeping us healthy, so it’s important to make sure they are eating enough protein, Vitamin D, and calcium to keep their body strong.
  • Regular exercise. Frequent movement will help your loved one keep their body strong. Exercise can improve muscle tone, coordination, and balance. Try to find the right type of exercise. This might be as simple as taking regular walks or signing up for a senior exercise class.
  • Check in with the experts. Each person is unique, so it’s important to have regular conversations with your loved one’s doctor. They can help you better understand the risk factors and the best ways to address them.
  • Extra care when needed. If there has been a recent medical event or surgery, they may temporarily be at higher risk for falls. They must recover fully in a safe environment. Consider whether they may need rehabilitation or sub-acute care in a nursing home while they recover.

Balancing Exercises for Fall Prevention

The most effective way to prevent falls is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and practice daily balancing exercises. These should be low-impact, simple movements that strengthen your loved one’s muscles (particularly in their legs and hips), reducing the risk of stumbling. Looking for a place to get started? Help them learn and practice some of these exercises:

  • Single Limb Stance. Stand with both feet together. Slowly lift one leg and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other leg. For balance, you may choose to hold onto the back of a chair.
  • Walking Heel to Toe. Take slow steps, placing the heel of one foot in front of the toes of the other foot. Take care to shift weight onto the toes of your front foot before moving your back foot forward.
  • Foot Taps. Stand in front of a low stool or step. Slowly raise one foot and tap it on the top of the step. Return to standing position, then do the same on the next foot.
  • Rock the Boat. Stand with your feet hip’s width apart, with a chair back in front of you for balance. Slowly put your weight onto your right leg, and lift your left leg up and out. Bring your left leg down and repeat on the other side.
  • Toe Raises. Stand with a chair in front of you for balance. Hold onto the chair back and slowly raise yourself onto your toes, then back down.

These exercises will serve to strengthen your loved one, helping them to maintain better balance and reducing their risk of falls. An important note: make sure that they are safe when exercising. If you’re not sure what level of activity they can handle, work with their doctor to develop an exercise plan—and make sure that the exercise sessions are supervised.

Keeping Your Loved One Safe

At Knollwood Nursing Center, we care about the health and safety of our residents, during and after their stay with us. If your loved one needs the support of a safe, welcoming nursing environment, we’re here for you. To receive an application and see whether Knollwood is the right fit, fill out our application request form. We’re looking forward to helping you with all of your loved one’s health needs.

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