Many people assume that falls are a normal part of the aging process, but nothing could be farther from the truth. While falls among people 65 and older are common – they are the leading cause of injury in this age group – they are preventable and do not have to be an inevitable part of aging.
Sadly, the numbers are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every second of every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall. And 1 out of every 5 falls causes an injury such as broken bones or head trauma. Each year at least 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for hip fractures due to falls.
You can dramatically reduce your chances of falling with a few simple steps, including:
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have fallen or feel unsteady. There may be a medical condition causing your unsteadiness.
Review all your medications with your healthcare provider and discuss possible side effects such as dizziness or sleepiness.
Have annual eye exams to diagnose vision problems such as cataracts or glaucoma and ensure your glasses are up to date.
Make your home safe by getting rid of trip hazards, such as throw rugs and clutter.
Keep your home well lit. If you're getting up in the middle of the night, be sure to use night lights in hallways and bathrooms.
Install grab bars in the bathroom and handrails on all staircases.
(For more details on home safety, download this brochure.)
Exercise for Strength and Balance
The best way to reduce your risk of falls as you age is to perform strength and balance exercises. In particular, our core (abdomen), back muscles and hip flexors play an important role in keeping us balanced as we stand and walk. When these muscles get weak, we are prone to balance issues and are unable to stop ourselves from falling. Exercising regularly reduces your fall risk by strengthening key muscles and improving balance.
Begin by talking to your healthcare provider about what type of exercises are safe for you and your current health. If you aren’t experienced with exercising, have balance issues or tire easily, enlist the help of a spouse, friend, or caregiver when you exercise to provide support if you become unsteady.
While there are many great daily exercises for older adults, these four are commonly recommended by healthcare professionals and physical therapists to help reduce falls:
1. Sit to Stand
Sit up tall in your chair, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Shuffle forward to the front of your chair.
From this position, bring your feet back, so your heels are behind your knees.
With your hands on the chair, on the armrests of the chair, or on your thighs, lean forward at the hips so your nose comes over your toes.
Stand up putting equal weight through both feet/legs.
Make sure you fully extend your legs at the knees and the hips.
To sit down, hinge at the hips, reaching for the chair and sitting down.
Make sure to keep your chest up throughout the exercise.
Repeat 10 times.
If this is too easy, try crossing your arms in front of your chest instead of using the armrests or your thighs.
2. Marching in Place
Hold on to a sturdy chair back or countertop. Stand with good posture and bring one knee up toward the chest and then the other, as if you are marching.
Do this exercise slowly and deliberately, using muscles instead of momentum.
Do 10-20 knees raises for each leg daily.
3. Single leg raises
Lie down on the floor or on your bed using a PhysioBoard (see Why PhysioBoard?) with your knees bent.
Slide your right leg out so it’s straight.
Keep your toes pointed toward your nose and raise your leg. Lift your leg no higher than the opposite thigh. Pause there.
Bring the leg down in a slow, controlled manner.
Do 10-20 raises with the right leg and then bend that knee back in and perform the same exercise with the left leg.
Keeping one knee bent will support your low back.
Lie on your back on the floor or on your bed using a PhysioBoard (see Why PhysioBoard) with your knees bent and feet flat, hip-width apart.
Place your arms at your sides.
Tighten your buttocks, then lift your hips up off the floor until they form a straight line with your hips and shoulders. Hold for a few seconds.
Return to the starting position.
Repeat 10 times each day.
Other exercises, such as squats, calf raises, and heel lifts can also improve balance. If you're not sure where to start, consider consulting with a physical therapist who can design a plan for you.
Ideally, you should do a combination of physical activity. The CDC recommends 150 minutes (about 30 minutes a day) of moderate intensity aerobic activity (e.g., brisk walking), and two or more days of muscle strengthening exercises, including balance activities.
Many people have trouble getting down and up from the floor, which makes a large number of beneficial exercises impossible. Whether you or someone you know has arthritis, back issues, hip or knee replacements or simply don't feel safe getting on the floor, PhysioBoard is the solution!
PhysioBoard is a lightweight, yet sturdy board that transforms your bed into an effective exercise surface. Any exercise or stretch that requires a hard surface can be done on your bed with PhysioBoard. Simply place PhysioBoard on your bed, do your exercises, and then easily store it in a closet or behind a door. The benefits of PhysioBoard include:
It weighs only 11 pounds, making it easy for most people to lift and move it.
Unlike bulky exercise tables, it doesn't take up floor space. Store it in a closet or behind a door.
It has comfortable foam padding and a water- and bacteria-resistant cover that is machine washable.
There is no assembly or set-up required. Simply place it on your bed and begin exercising.
It's less expensive than exercise tables.
Mattresses do not provide an effective exercise surface, but the PhysioBoard lets you exercise with proper posture and alignment, avoiding further strain or injury.
People who use it, love it! Read testimonials here.
While it’s true that our bodies start to lose their ability to maintain balance as we age, and we naturally lose muscle mass, falls are not inevitable. We can continue to do the things we love and stay active by using targeted exercises that build muscle and support balance.
Get started today with PhysioBoard!