As our loved ones age, their chances of being injured by a fall or some sort of accident increase. It’s estimated that as many as 45 percent of seniors fall each year, and falls are one of the leading reasons seniors end up in the hospital. Often this is the result of a decrease in balance that occurs due to age, poorer vision, weaker muscles, bent posture, and more. To reduce the chance of falling, it’s critical that the senior care community creates a safe physical environment for your loved one. Additionally, balance exercises for seniors can be a big factor in keeping your loved one healthy and safe.
If a balance exercise class isn't already offered at your loved one's current senior care community, ask the Executive Director to begin one while explaining the importance of balance exercises for seniors. In addition, you can help you loved one do simple balance exercises in the privacy of their own residence. However, make sure she or he learns proper and safe techniques for their exercise.
Important Senior Safety guidelines
- Check with the doctor and make sure there aren’t any pre-existing health or medication issues that would make it too hard to do these exercises.
- Especially frail or unstable seniors need to be supervised by a senior care staff member when they exercise.
- Start exercises near a chair or table for safety.
- Get out of the chair slowly and avoid twisting motions.
- Don’t close your eyes during exercise!
- Proceed slowly and don’t try to do too much too soon. That’s how injuries happen!
Simple Balance exercises for seniors
This is a good balance exercise for seniors to start with, because it helps them figure out their center of gravity over their ankles, which is the goal, to maintain a center position over the ankles. Hold on with both hands to the back of a stable, solid chair and balance on one leg. Try to do this for a few seconds for each leg. Advance to a one-hand hold and, if your loved one's balance allows, no hand hold.
Side leg raise
Stand behind the chair with your back held straight. Put your feet flat on the floor, slightly apart. Hold onto the back of the chair or table. Exhale slowly and lift your right leg about six inches off the floor to the side. Keep both legs straight and toes pointing out. Inhale and hold this position for a few seconds. Exhale and return to both feet on the floor. Alternate legs and do this several times. This exercise helps build your leg strength and your hip flexibility.
Work on standing up and sitting down without using your hands. This is a great balance exercise for seniors because it helps overall balance and strength. You may want to have your loved one do this exercise on the sofa or a soft chair for their safety.
One foot stand
Raise one leg and stand on the alternate foot as long as you can. Alternate the legs to build balance on each side – people often find that one leg is much stronger than the other. This one is so simple seniors can do it just about anywhere without much risk.
This is a great exercise once you have mastered the static balance exercises, because, like the one foot stand, it can be done nearly anywhere. Practice this first near a chair for extra support if needed. Put one heel in front of the toes of your opposite foot each time you take a step. The heel and toes should touch or almost touch.
These simple balance exercises for seniors will keep your loved one spry and safe. Looking for more senior caregiving resources? Senior Solutions is here to answer your questions about senior care. Contact us or schedule a tour today!