From adulthood onward, all of life can seem like a balancing act. We balance work, family, friends, community, etc. But then there comes a time later in life when, for the sake of our safety and independence, we have to consider our actual balance. As we age, our bodies naturally change, and there are many things that can affect a senior’s balance, including:
- Low vision
- Poor muscle tone
- And more
Luckily, there are several simple, common-sense lifestyle changes that can help seniors improve balance and prevent falls.
Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and research shows that following a regular exercise routine can help older adults build muscle tone that can improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. Consider working the following types of exercise into your daily routine:
- Tai chi
- Water aerobics
- Strength and resistance training
Adjust your diet
Generally, eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding alcohol in excess is key for a healthy lifestyle. However, some seniors may need to make adjustments to their diets in order to get the nutrition needed to improve balance. For example, seniors who have low levels of vitamin D are at an increased risk of having balance problems, falling down, and breaking bones.
Additionally, if the senior has a condition like Meniere’s disease that affects the inner ear, his or her doctor may suggest dietary changes such as:
- Avoiding caffeine as caffeine may make symptoms like tinnitus worse
- Eating six small meals daily rather than three large ones
- Reducing daily salt intake to less than 1,500 mg, to reduce fluid retention
- Avoiding monosodium glutamate (MSG), as it may cause fluid retention
Use corrective devices as needed
Often, poor balance is caused by physical changes in the body, such as reduced vision, hearing or mobility. Hearing aids and prescription eyeglasses can help reduce symptoms of dizziness and disequilibrium, and seniors should get treatment for cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration if needed.
Also, walking aids, such as canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, can help seniors live safely and independently when they are properly used.
If a dizzy spell occurs…
It may not always be possible to prevent a dizzy spell, even if you take all the precautions listed above. In order to prevent loss of balance when feeling dizzy, follow these steps:
- Sit or lie down as soon as you feel dizzy
- Move slowly and try not to change the position of your head
- Rest as much as you can and don’t try to go back to your regular activities before you are ready
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid exposure to things that may cause sinus congestion
- Try to manage your stress and anxiety levels
At Nightingale Homecare, we strive to help seniors stay safe, happy, and healthy in the comfort of home by offering a full range of Scottsdale home care services that can allow them to live the lives they want. To help ensure the home is a safe place, we are always happy to provide a home safety assessment and make recommendations on how to reduce the risk of falls in the home. Additionally, our Paces Fall Prevention Program incorporates the expertise of our professional therapists, dieticians, social workers, home health aides and others to provide a well-rounded fall prevention plan that can be implemented to enhance safety even further.