Of all the bad things that can happen to a senior, falling is one of the most feared, and with good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each year 3 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for falls, with 800,000 hospitalized, 300,000 of these for hip fractures. Falls are also the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in seniors and deaths from falls are expected to occur seven times every hour by 2030. Avoiding falls, however, can be as simple as doing some basic exercises to prevent falls by building balance, flexibility, and strength. First, talk to a physician about undertaking an exercise routine then take a look at some of the best exercises to prevent falls.
Regain lost balance
It may not be noticed early on, but getting older can impact balance, making walking, standing and doing daily tasks hard to do safely. Among the many reasons for impaired balance are loss of muscle strength, but also conditions like arthritis, migraine headaches, inner ear problems, vision problems, and medications. But regaining balance can be accomplished with exercises that challenge you to balance better.
According to the health.harvard.edu article, “Body and brain are crucial to good balance,” our bodies as well as our minds are necessary for good balance which is why practicing mind-body exercises like Tai Chi, qigong and yoga to can help, especially if gentle exercise is best. Other great balance exercises to prevent falls are described in the healthline.com article, “11 Balance Exercises for Seniors” and can help build on mind-body exercises to prevent falls and build strength, enhance coordination and help improve posture and stability.
Download our free Guide to Aging Well to learn more about the habits of the “super agers” around the world.
Rebuild lost strength
Loss of strength is actually loss of muscle mass or sarcopenia, something that occurs naturally as we age. It is also a primary reason why seniors fall and get hurt, or worse. There are many exercises that can help build strength, but for seniors who are just getting started it’s a good idea to begin with the basics as described in the silversneakers.com article, “Everything You Need to Know About Strength Training,” which lists exercises for all parts of the body, something that is essential for balance and stability.
For those who prefer (or need) to exercise sitting down, there are also plenty of strength building exercises that can be performed from a sitting position. These exercises to prevent falls are especially good for people who are still working on balance and for those with dementia or other conditions that limit their mobility. For an in-depth list of chair exercises with accompanying graphics and instructions, check out the californiamobility.com article, “21 Chair Exercises For Seniors: A Comprehensive Visual Guide.”
Although a sedentary lifestyle and the lack of strength building activities are partly at fault, diet can be another complicating factor to keep in mind, specifically a lack of protein, which according to the now.tufts.edu article, “Muscle Loss in Older Adults and What to Do About It,” a diet that contains adequate protein coupled with weekly exercise can help regain lost muscle mass and the strength necessary to avoid falls.
Reclaim lost flexibility
Like loss of balance and muscle mass, loss of flexibility can play a role in falls. And loss of flexibility is also often a part of getting older and living a less active life. It is never too late to increase physical flexibility and when combined with improved balance and strength may make a big difference in minimizing fall risk, can make you feel more capable and help may positively affect mobility and joint pain and stiffness.
Exercises described above will have some impact on flexibility but there are some that are specifically designed for that purpose. Among the most important are stretching exercises to prevent falls like those in the YouTube video Senior & Beginner Workout – Gentle Pilates and Stretch. For those who prefer chair-based exercise, the aginggreatly.com article, “19+ Chair Stretches for Seniors” provides exercises to prevent falls as well as instructions for doing them correctly.
For those who haven’t already tried Tai Chi or yoga for building balance, they are also excellent for building flexibility as well. Other excellent exercises to prevent falls and improve flexibility are swimming, which works out several parts of the body and can help increase range of motion, and dancing, which is an excellent physical workout as well as great for the cardiovascular system as well.
Exercises to prevent falls and keep seniors fit are a priority at Sonrisa Senior Living. Download our free Guide to Aging Well to learn more about the habits of the “super agers” around the world. Contact us today to find out more about luxury senior living at Sonrisa and schedule a tour!