A bad spill can be a life-changing experience. More than 1/3 of adults 65 and older fall each year in the US! If you feel like your balance isn’t what it once was, or if you’ve experienced a minor or major fall in the past, here’s a few tips for you:
1. Move regularly! Don’t avoid physical activity because of fear. Exercising, walking, and moving will continue to train your brain and your muscles in how to balance. The more you move, the more confident you will be in your steps and movements. (An exercise class is a great way to do this!)
2. That being said, you want to make sure you’re moving in a safe environment. Wear sturdy shoes when you’re out and about, and be careful of slipping while wearing socks in your home. Look around your home and see if there are any tripping hazards like cords, loose rugs, etc. Make sure your staircase has handrails and your shower/tub has grab bars. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the use of a cane or walker. Plow and salt your driveway in the winter (or hire someone to do it). Position yourself for safety in your everyday tasks in your home.
3. Vision: One of the biggest causes of falls is poor vision. Have your vision checked annually and wear your contacts or glasses. The other part of this is to have good lighting in your home, and take extra precautions when you’re out and the lighting is dark.
4. Have your hearing checked. The inner ear is highly related to balance! Also, if you suffer a certain type of vertigo (BPPV), physical therapy can help you, and it is often a quick treatment process.
5. Train your brain & muscles to balance: perform exercises (in a safe environment, with instruction) to improve balance while standing/sitting still, and while moving.
6. Improve your strength, mobility and posture: a lack of strength or mobility in a joint can add stress or pain to other parts of the body, and can contribute to a fall. Focus on training your core, hips, and legs, (along with stretching), as these are shown to significantly help improve your balance.
If you struggle with balance or have had some close calls with falling, don't hesitate to give us a call and see what we can do to help you: 616-662-0990.
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
Steve Bartz, PT