Seniors are at high risk of severe falls. According to the CDC, about 36 million older adults fall each year, resulting in 32,000 deaths.
How does this happen?
As people age, gradual physical changes, such as decreased strength and loss of flexibility, lead to a greater risk of accidents. These falls can lead to more significant health problems than they would in a younger adult and may impact a senior’s ability to lead an active, independent life.
Fortunately, exercises that focus on improving balance can help.
Keep reading to learn more:
Facts About Older Adult Falls
Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death in adults aged 65 and over in the U.S.
According to the National Council on Aging, an older adult is treated for a fall in the emergency room every 11 seconds, and the average health care cost for each of these falls is approximately $35,000 per patient.
Other notable statistics include:
- One out of every five falls results in an injury, such as a broken bone or head wound
- Every year, at least 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for a fall-related hip fracture
- Women fall more often than men and account for three-quarters of all hip fractures
However, it’s important to note that falls are NOT a normal part of aging, and there are things you can do to reduce your risk.
The risk of falls in older adults is usually related to various factors, including balance and/or walking problems. For many seniors, activities such as standing up from a chair or getting out of bed at night to go to the bathroom can pose a risk.
While it’s impossible to eliminate the possibility of falls completely, exercises that focus on balance can reduce the risk.
These five exercises from Synergy Sports and Rehab can help:
Standing March: Alternate lifting one knee at a time as high as comfortable, for up to 30 seconds. Vary the surface on which you march (i.e., hard floor to the back yard) for more of a challenge. A sturdy countertop, table, or chair back can be used for support if necessary.
Heel to Toe: Starting with both heels touching the wall, put one foot in front of the other, so the heel touches the toes of the opposite foot. Repeat with the other foot, as if you’re walking a chalk line. Hold your arms out to the sides for balance and repeat for up to 20 seconds.
Weight Shifts: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight equally distributed on both legs. Shift your weight to one side, lifting your other foot off the floor just a few inches. Hold this pose for as long as you can maintain good form, then shift and hold on to the other leg.
Single-Leg Balance: Starting with the same stance as above, lift one leg off the floor, bending it back at the knee. Hold for as long as you can maintain form, up to 30 seconds, then do the same with the other leg.
Try Yoga: Balancing poses in yoga, such as balancing mountain and tree pose, can improve stability, endurance, and confidence. Find a local class or look online for a beginner series and amp up your practice as you become more comfortable.
Balance training is an essential tool to help prevent falls and subsequent injury or loss of function. As always, if you are new to exercising or suffer from a chronic condition, check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new program.
Good luck on your fitness journey. Stay happy and stay healthy!