Balance has always been a perennial problem among the elderly. The worst thing about it is how life-threatening the effects of falls on older adults. One of the best ways to keep balance problems at bay is to exercise. Here are 10 exercises for the elderly that promote balance and overall well being.
Causes of Balance Problems
Before discussing the 10 best balance exercise for the elderly, it is important to understand what causes balance problems to begin with. Here are some of the potential reasons of one’s physical imbalance especially among older adults:
- Old age
- Inner ear problem
- Circulatory diseases
- Low blood pressure
- Head injury
- Certain medications
Symptoms of Balance Problems
You have to take extra care if your elderly loved ones exhibit the following symptoms which are telltale signs of concerns with imbalance:
- Complaints of a spinning sensation (also known as vertigo) or lightheadedness
- Blurred vision
- Staggering or teetering when walking
More serious symptoms may include:
- Notable shift in heart rate and blood pressure
Keep your physician updated regarding the symptoms that you notice. Appropriate medication and proper home care are needed to manage said symptoms.
Falls among elderly
Without proper intervention, there is an increase in risk of falls among the elderly and this is very dangerous. Statistics consistently show that falling is one of the most common causes of death and disability among older adults. These can further lead to social and psychological complications so reducing the risk of falls among the elderly should be given priority.
As mentioned earlier, exercise can be one form of home care that you can introduce so your older loved ones can better manage their problems with balance. Here are 10 of the most effective balance exercise for the elderly that you can try:
- One foot stand. As the name of the exercise connotes, have the older adult stand on one foot for about 10 seconds. Have a sturdy chair in front to grip for balance. After 10 seconds, stand on the other foot. You can repeat this exercise five times at the very least.
- Side leg raises. Maintain the sturdy chair to grip for balance. Take position behind it. Feet should be slightly apart. Swing one foot slowly to one side. Hold this position for about two seconds then swing to the other side. Do about five repetitions before you switch to the other foot. You can repeat this set of exercises three times before taking a break.
- Back leg raises. Follow the same mechanics as side leg raises but this time, bring the leg to the back. Do five raises for each leg. The older adult can do as many as three sets.
- Back leg stand. This is similar to back leg raises but instead of raising the leg up and down, you will hold it it raised position for about ten seconds. Do the same for the opposite leg. This is considered one of the best balance exercises for the elderly because it promotes not only balance but strength as well.
- Balance walk. Here is one of the most effective exercises for the elderly which promotes balance. Aptly called balance walk, identify a location of ample distance. Position the older adult at a fixed starting point. Let them walk directly to the location following a line. You can put tape from point A to point B as a guide for them to walk on. Count to five before taking another step. Be ready to assist them as they walk. They might need your arm to grip for balance.
- Advanced balance walk. Here, the older adult is asked to walk from heel to toe. In this exercise, you put your foot right in front of your other foot hence the description walking from heel to toe. Take fifteen to twenty steps before resting. You can repeat this twice in one session.
- Side front swing. This is a little complicated since it will involve moving of arms and legs simultaneously. While advanced, this promotes both balance and coordination. Start with your right arm. Extend it to right side at shoulder level then bring it to the front. When the right arm reaches the front, lift left leg. Position a sturdy chair in front of your to grip for balance. Repeat five times before moving to the next arm and leg.
- Single limb stand. One of the best exercises for the elderly is this next exercise because again, it promotes balance and coordination. In this exercise, you would need to position a sturdy chair at one’s side to grip for balance. The opposite arm is then raised above the head while the corresponding leg (left arm and left leg; right arm and right leg) is raised as well with the knee bent. Hold this position for a good ten seconds. Do the same on the other side.
- Wall push up. As the name connotes, you do your push ups using the wall as counterweight. The older adult can do as many as twenty but always be ready if assistance is needed. Do this slowly and gradually. This is not a no pain-no gain type of a situation. Keep in mind the condition and age of the person doing the exercise.
- March in place. To complete the ten best exercises for the elderly is one of the most basic thing to do which is to march in place. The key here is to lift the knee as high as possible. Do this twenty times.
These are just some of the best balance exercises for the elderly that you can try. Remember, healthy balance decreases as age increases so it is good to start balance exercises when the body is still able. Just make sure all these exercises have been cleared with an attending physician or physical therapist to ensure the health and well-being of the elderly.