Balance Exercises for SeniorsSeptember 18, 2023
We don’t tend to realize how much balance impacts our day-to-day life until it becomes a problem. If we struggle with balance, it isn’t just a matter of feeling dizzy. It leads to issues with standing, walking, and generally moving about one’s environment without falling. This can impede upon one’s ability to carry out their daily activities and remain independent at home. Balance Awareness Week, which is the third week in September, strives to recognize this.
For seniors, balance problems can arise for a number of reasons—from medication, to vertigo, to heart disease. If you experience any new dizziness or other symptoms, speak with your doctor. They may be able to offer treatments. In addition to these treatments, balance exercises for seniors could help you see overall improvement.
Stay safe when practicing balance at home
While balance is heavily impacted by your inner ear, as well as other brain functions, your core and leg strength also have a substantial effect. These exercises won’t cure you, but they will help reduce your risk of falls.
- Avoid fast movements and/or quick changes in your poses
- Don’t close your eyes when exercising
- Use a chair to hold onto for standing exercises
- Have someone nearby to supervise
Balance exercises for seniors to practice
When one researches balance exercises for seniors, dozens of overwhelming options pop up. Instead of jumping from article to article to find the most common exercises, start with these. As you should for any change in your lifestyle, remember to talk to your doctor before incorporating a balance practice into your daily life.
Keep a chair nearby during this practice so you have something to hold onto. As you grow more confident you don’t have to use it, but having it as a safety precaution is highly beneficial.
This movement is a great way to assess your balance at all points in your journey. Stand behind a sturdy chair (without wheels on a floor that won’t cause the chair to slip) or at a countertop. Hold onto the surface with both hands and lift one leg up to a 90-degree angle and hold the stance for as long as possible. Once you’ve reached your limit, slowly lower your foot back to the floor, then repeat the motion with your second leg.
You may find you can’t raise your leg to a 90-degree angle—and if you can, you can’t hold the pose for long. That is fine. The longer you practice this pose, the easier it will get with time. For now, just raise your leg as high as you can. That could be at a 45-degree angle, or it could be so your foot is just hovering above the ground. Whatever it is, meet your appropriate edge and mirror it with your other side.
Tree pose takes the single-leg stance to the next level. Start by standing with your legs at shoulder-width apart, holding onto a chair in front of you. Raise one leg up, like in the previous pose, and turn your foot into the side of your left thigh. Rest it there, hold it as long as possible, and then slowly release the pose. Repeat this on the opposite side.
If you can’t get your foot to your thigh, or you can’t get it to stay there, that is totally fine. Place your foot at your calf or even your ankle. Do not place it against your knee, as that could be painful for those with joint issues.
Rock the boat
Firmly plant your feet at hip-width apart. Then, holding onto the back of a chair, slowly lift one leg out towards your side. Hold the pose as long as you can, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Repeat the move on your second side, then go back and forth as many times as you’d like.
As time goes by, you may be able to test your balance by practicing the pose with your hands on your hips, then out to either side of you, and eventually above your head.
Walk heel to toe
This exercise may seem like a strange option to improve your balance, but it works. It is beneficial to your leg strength, which directly impacts your ability to walk without falling. Start by placing your right foot in front of your left one so that the heel of your right foot touches the tip of your toes on your left foot. Then, move your left foot in front of your right, slowly putting all your weight onto the foot. Repeat this for a specific length of time, then turn around and do it again.
One of the best ways to ensure you’re walking in a straight line is to follow the lines of tiles on the floor. If you don’t have easily defined lines on your floor, lay tape in a straight line and follow it. As you grow more confident in this exercise, try looking over your shoulder as you walk.
Support from a trained caregiver
While balance exercises are incredibly beneficial for seniors to prevent falls, you may still need additional support. This is where Home Care Powered by AUAF can help. Our at-home caregivers offer older adults personalized care with their activities of daily living so they can age in the comfort of their homes.
If you or your loved one are in need of home care services, reach out to Home Care Powered by AUAF to explore the personalized care options available. Our dedicated team of caregivers is committed to ensuring the comfort, safety, and well-being of seniors. For more information, give us a call at 773-274-9262.
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