You’ve worked hard your whole life. You’re now looking forward to taking a rest and enjoying doing all those things you love; travelling, spending time with friends and seeing your grandkids more. But, one foot wrong, and all your plans can all go out the window.
You can be as healthy as a horse, but one stumble at an odd angle, can really set you back. This is why it is so vitally important to stay active and maintain good balance so you can avoid falls and the ensuing consequences. In the event of a fall there would likely be hospital visits and doctor appointments, as well as a chance of surgery or a long-term disability.
A large contributing factor to these falls is decreased balance. Over time, our muscles naturally begin to reduce in size which directly affects our strength and balance; increasing our risk of falling. The good news is, like most things health related, you are in control of how you approach maintaining your health.
There are many things you can do to help improve your balance and reduce your risk of a fall. Your balance can be improved, along with exercise, by looking at how appropriate your footwear is, or reviewing your home environment to see if anything could be made safer. This could be minor modifications to your home with specially designed equipment, or just tidying up some of the clutter around your home.
Don’t wait until something happens before you think about your balance. Start working on improving your balance today, so you can get on with all your plans. Mobile Rehab Australia have physiotherapists, occupational therapists, exercise physiologists and podiatrists who are highly trained in providing services to help seniors keep balanced and stay on their feet.
Our top five tips for staying balanced
#1 - Stay active
Regular strength and balancing exercises, as set by a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist, can help you gain strength and endurance, improve mobility and flexibility and reduce your shortness of breath. If you are looking at some exercise to do in a group and social setting, Tai Chi could be the perfect fit for you. Often described as ‘medication in motion’, Tai Chi is gentle, controlled and can help maintain strength, flexibility and ultimately balance. Exercising in groups also has proven benefits for helping with motivation and support.
#2 - Fall-proofing your home environment
Approximately 50% of falls among the retired community occur within their own homes. Most falls occur on level surfaces within commonly used rooms such as the bathroom, bedroom, lounge room and kitchen. Ways to reduce the risk of
- De-cluttering areas in hallways and near doors;
- Ensuring that areas are well lit so you have a clear view of where you are going;
- Removing trip hazards such a cords and rugs from walkways;
- Keeping items where you can reach them; and
- Being mindful of wearing clothes that are too long, or with a fallen hem, as you might trip up on these.
#3 - Managing your medications
Some medications can result in side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion, which may increase a person’s risk of falls. It’s important to ensure you follow the instructions on the label and any other instructions given by your doctor or pharmacist.
#4 - Wearing correct footwear
Over time, feet can change shape and lose some feeling and flexibility. This can alter the way we walk and affect our balance. Painful or swollen feet can make it difficult to walk, especially if you are wearing shoes that are ill-fitting. Also, some shoes or slippers can make you more likely to slip, trip or stumble. Choose comfortable, firm-fitting, flat shoes with a low broad heel and soles that grip and avoid wearing poorly fitted slippers or walking in socks. You can also ask an occupational therapist to suggest ways to improve circulation, decrease swelling and reduce pain in the legs and feet. Look after your feet!
#5 - Looking after your eyesight
Your eyes not only allow you to see obstacles and judge steps, they help you to keep your balance and stand erect. You should have your eyesight (and glasses if you wear them) checked by an optometrist at least once every two years and yearly by a GP. Do you have good balance? How is your balance at the moment? Do you think it could be improved?
Have you noticed that you are:
- less flexible than you were 12 months ago?
- tripping over small things more frequently?
- taking longer to regain balance after a small stumble?
- less confident walking distances?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is recommended you make an appointment with your GP. Regain control and increase your confidence through a strength and balance exercise program designed by a health professional, just for you.
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