Our homes are where we feel safe, rested, and happy. We unwind in our homes. We enjoy hobbies in our homes. We raise families in our homes. So, it’s important to feel safe in your home as well. For older adults, a safe home is a home that you can easily navigate without the fear of tripping or falling.
An estimated 30% of adults aged 65 and older experience a fall each year. Falling can not only result in injuries, broken bones, bruises, and pain. It can also cause you to live in fear of falling again. As you are navigating the joys and the challenges of older adulthood, the last thing you should have to be afraid of is falling in your own home.
Luckily, there are exercises you can perform in your own home to build your balance and help you stay safe.
Exercises to Prevent Falling
While there are many dangers to falling, there are also many exercises that can promote your balance and strength so you can stay safe. Below are some of the simplest balance exercises to prevent falls.
While performing these exercises, be sure you have someone with you the first few times in case you start to lose balance. You can also perform these exercises in a corner so you can balance with each side of the wall, or in front of a table so you can hold it for exercise.
1. Feet Apart Exercise
This first exercise should be done behind a table, counter, or something sturdy you can hold on to if you begin to lose balance. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Let go of the table and stand for 10 to 30 seconds.
If you begin to lose balance, just place your hands on the table in front of you. The goal of this exercise is to work up to 30 seconds of standing up by yourself with as little swaying as possible! Once you can do this exercise without swaying, move on to the next one.
2. Feet Together Exercise
Similarly, the feet together exercise can be done by standing up straight, but this time place your feet together. Let go of the table or counter and try to balance for 10 to 30 seconds without swaying or grabbing the table.
As soon as you can do this exercise for 30 seconds without swaying, move on to the next one!
3. One Footed Balance
To scale up the first two exercises, try them on one foot. Be sure you are secure if you need to grab the counter for balance. You can lift one of your feet up slightly, hold for as long as you can, and relax it back down. You can then alternate to the other foot. The goal is to hold each side for at least 30 seconds without swaying or needing to grab the counter for balance.
4. Balance with Your Eyes Closed
When you are able to go through each of the previous exercises without swaying or needing to rely on the counter as much, you are ready to perform them each with your eyes closed. This helps target your inner-ear balance not relying on sight.
Perform the balance exercise with your feet apart, feet together, and alternating going on one foot, and try to do them all with your eyes closed.
5. Heel Raises
Heel raises are another great exercise to build your balance and strength to help prevent falls. To perform this exercise, position yourself behind a counter or table and stand so your feet are shoulder-width apart. Lift yourself up so you’re standing on your toes, and then lower your heels back to the floor.
You should feel this exercise in your calves. Repeat this exercise slowly to ensure your safety and repeat ten times.
6. Standing Side Leg Lift
This exercise is also a great way to prevent falling. The standing side leg lift should be done behind a counter or table as well. Hold on to the table throughout the exercise. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, lift one of your legs straight to the side, so it sits about six inches above the floor. Your toes should still be facing forward.
Hold this exercise for five seconds and slowly lower your leg back down to your side. Alternate between your right and left legs and perform ten times on each side.
7. Standing Hamstring Curl
The last exercise is the standing hamstring curl. Stand behind a counter and hold onto it throughout the exercise. Just like the previous exercise, you are going to extend each leg out one at a time, but this time you’re going to reach behind you.
Extend your leg out behind you, bending your knee so that the heel of your foot almost touches your buttocks. Hold this for five to ten seconds and let your foot slowly back down to touch the ground. Alternate legs and repeat ten times on each.
Other Tips to Prevent Falls
In addition to incorporating these exercises into your routine, there are other ways you can improve your balance. Here are some of the reasons you may experience balance issues and some tips to help!
Be Mindful of Your Medicines’ Side Effects
Sometimes prescription medicines are the culprit for why you feel dizzy. While it’s important to take the medicines you need, there may be an alternative medication or even smaller dosage that can help you not feel so off-balance or dizzy. Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of any medicines you’re taking.
Have Your Vision Regularly Checked
Sometimes, balance issues can be a result of our vision. Our vision may not be as sharp as it was when we were younger, so if you use prescription eyewear and struggle with balance, it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly and keep your glasses up to date.
Vision damage can also be a result of an injury too. Sometimes a fall or injury can cause the communication between our eyes and our brains to be disrupted. Luckily, our brains are one of the most resilient parts of our bodies and can snap back to health even after injury.
If you do notice your vision blurring after a fall or accident, be sure to talk to your doctor. In addition, making regular check-ups with your eye doctor can help you keep your eyes sharp and help your balance!
Insufficient lighting is another common reason for older adults to fall. You may not see a step or object on the floor because of the lighting. For this reason, it’s important to prioritize safety in the home. Adding plug-in lights to the hallways, bathrooms, and kitchen can help you eliminate falls too.
To learn more about home modifications that can make you safer and more confident in your own home, check out this resource!
Finding the Root Cause of Dizziness
If you get dizzy after standing up, this may also affect your balance. Not drinking enough water, high blood pressure, and low blood sugar can cause you to feel dizzy and lose balance after standing up too quickly.
Here are some tips to reduce dizziness from standing up too quickly. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. It’s recommended that adults 65 and over drink at least six glasses of water per day. In addition, if your blood sugar gets too low, you may feel dizzy and lose balance, so make sure you’re eating nutritious food.
Dizziness may also be a side-effect of overexertion. If you’re working too much and begin to feel dizzy, take a break and wait until you feel balanced again to resume your activity! Whether you’re gardening, cleaning, working, or exercising, it is important to monitor your balance during activity to protect yourself from falling.
Muscle soreness and joint pain are also common reasons older adults may experience a fall. If you do suffer from tension or discomfort in your muscles or joints, try using a topical pain reliever such as a hemp extract salve or hemp extract roll on to soothe your muscles and aching joints! This will not only result in some temporary relief from pain, but it could also help reduce your risk of falling and keep you safe in your home
As we get older, our bodies can have a harder time doing what they once did, and this can make us more susceptible to falling. However, there are ways to prevent falling and ensure your safety in your home that can eliminate this risk and help you live without fear. You deserve to live your life to the fullest—without the fear of falling.
Understanding what factors make you more susceptible to falling and learning how to improve your balance with exercises and other tips can help you remain safe and live your life without fear.