The statistics are staggering – literally! Millions of older adults were injured as a result of falls between 2000 and 2013, and fatalities from falls have more than doubled in that time. Annual costs for senior falls are already in excess of $30 billion and are predicted to double by 2020.
We clearly need to view fall risks in seniors as a crisis that requires immediate attention to protect our loved ones, and yet surprisingly, many health care providers haven’t yet made fall prevention a priority. Thankfully, however, there are steps being taken to help seniors stay safe and steady on their feet, such as the CDC’s new program, STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries).
One great way to help seniors reduce their fall risk is by encouraging them to participate in balance training classes, often available through local senior centers. Or, try some of these simple balance and strengthening exercises at home (after first checking with the physician to make sure he or she approves):
- One-leg stand. While performing routine tasks, such brushing teeth or making a sandwich, practice standing on one foot for a count of 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
- Heel-to-toe. Use a straight line on the floor, such as between hardwood floor boards or floor tiles – or, place a strip of tape securely across a carpeted surface – and walk carefully across the line, placing the heel of one foot in front of the toes of the other.
- Rise and relax. From a sitting position in a sturdy chair, simply stand, sit back down and repeat several times.
- Balance balls or boards. A trainer at the gym or in a strengthening class, such as tai chi or yoga, can teach proper techniques for using these pieces of equipment to improve balance.
- Weights. Raising and lowering small weights, or even cans of soup or vegetables, can improve not only balance, but muscle tone and bone strength as well.
We welcome you to call on the Phoenix in-home nursing care experts at Nightingale Homecare for more tips and hands-on assistance with balance and exercise programs to help your senior loved one improve his or her overall health, strength and wellbeing, and remain safe at home. Our Paces Fall Prevention Program incorporates a full team of fall prevention specialists, including physical therapists, nurses, occupational therapists, dieticians, medical social workers, and home health aides to ensure that the seniors in our care remain steady on their feet and reduce their chances of experiencing a fall. Contact us any time at 602-504-1555 to learn more!