Caring for and improving your body ensures that you experience a happy, healthy life at any age. However, as you get older, your body’s capabilities may change. Maintaining one’s balance is one such ability that can start to wane.
Older adults with weakened balance are more prone to falls and at a higher risk of experiencing serious injury. Fortunately, this does not have to be an inevitable circumstance. Discover the many ways older adults can improve their balance.
Why is Balance Important for Older Adults?
It can be surprising to learn that balance plays a vital role in helping you do everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, walking up the stairs and even stepping in the shower. Improving your balance can allow you to tackle these tasks with ease.
Balance is important for older adults because common aging issues such as bone loss, nerve deterioration and decreased muscle mass can affect gait and depth perception. These problems can cause serious falls or other accidents.
What are the Benefits of Improving Balance?
- Fall Prevention. A hard fall on the floor or sidewalk can cause painful bruises, sprains, an injured back or worse – broken bones. Improving your balance will help you stay upright. If you do stumble, you’ll be more likely to stop yourself from falling.
- Better Flexibility. If you’ve started to experience tighter muscles and a more limited range of motion, improving your balance can help your body become more flexible.
- Stronger body: When you engage in exercises that improve your balance, your body becomes stronger. This reduces the aches and pains you may feel as you age. It will also help your body bounce back more quickly if you experience physical injuries.
Assess Your Fall Risk Factors
Before working to improve your balance, it may be helpful to assess your current abilities. At Querencia, we offer all residents access to VSTBalance and VirtuSense, which are automated fall-risk assessment tools that utilize artificial intelligence with machine vision to identify fall risks.
This evaluation only takes a few minutes, and creates a report on key fall indicators that are then used to create treatment plans. These plans include engaging biofeedback activities that assist in reducing falls and improving mobility.
This type of risk assessment and the creation of unique, personalized plans has been shown to:
- Reduce post-acute care falls by 73%
- Improved mobility for residents by 85%
Those without access to programs like these can speak to a healthcare professional about possible alternatives for identifying their risk factors.
How to Improve Balance
- Strengthen Your Core. Your core, which the Mayo Clinic defines as “the muscles around your trunk and pelvis” is essential in helping you walk, move and maintain balance. The Mayo Clinic recommends the abdominal crunch and the bridge as one of many exercises you can do to toughen your core.
- Increase Your Flexibility and Mobility. In addition to core and balance exercises, increasing your range of motion and your flexibility will help improve your balance. Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi can help improve your flexibility.
- Install Equipment. Customize your home to adapt to your needs. Install railings on both sides of the stairs to help you climb or even exercise and stretch. You can also install handles near your bathtub or shower to help you safely get in and out.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Did you know your diet can improve your health and also improve your balance? Vitamins and minerals like calcium can strengthen the bones and muscles that help you stay balanced.
Be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen or program.
Stay Agile at Querencia
At Querencia, an upscale senior living community in Austin, Texas, we design retirement lifestyles that empower you to better care for your mind and body. Our custom wellness programs are designed to fit your personal health goals. Living in a community of like-minded individuals who are in a similar stage of life can motivate you to stay healthy and active. Residents also get access onsite to VirtuSense and VSTBalance, a rehabilitative technology that reduces falling risks by improving balance and increasing mobility through biofeedback activities.
To learn more about life at Querencia, contact us.