Regular exercise has many benefits for people of every age and stage, but, for older adults, it is especially important to incorporate strength exercises into daily life. Caregivers and family members play a vital role in providing tools, motivation, and support to help seniors maintain a regular routine. With a wide range of exercises to do at home, seniors can build strength and prevent falls, as well as the potentially devastating injuries that can occur.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one in four older adults falls each and every year. Over 800,000 senior patients are hospitalized due to fall injuries, the most common being head injuries or hip fractures. In fact, the CDC reports that more than 95 percent of hip fractures in seniors are caused by falling.1
Those statistics may seem worrisome if you are the primary caregiver or family member caring for a senior, but the good news is that most falls are avoidable. In fact, the best way for seniors to prevent falls is for them to “fall” in love with moving their bodies.
Here are some easy ways for the older adult in your life to safeguard themselves against falls:
Build Muscle and Protect Joints
What to do: Use hand weights to develop your upper body strength. Take brisk walks to build strength in your legs. Participate in fitness classes designed for older adults, such as yoga or water-based fitness programs to build your muscle tone and protect your joints.
How it helps: Developing muscle, improving tone and stabilizing joints, can not only prevent falls but, if a fall does occur, the resulting injury can be less severe and the recovery period can be substantially shorter if your body is in shape.
Improve Balance and Stability
What to do: Practice standing on one leg while holding on to a chair or wall for support. Walk heel to toe across the room without looking at your feet. Practice certain yoga poses. These are all excellent options to improve your balance and stability in movement.
How it helps: The mind/body connection is very powerful and needs to be nurtured, practiced on, and maintained just as much as an older person’s physical strength. Improving balance, mobility, and body awareness is essential in preventing falls and the resulting injuries.
What to do: Move your arms in slow circles, as large as your range of motion comfortably allows. After several rotations, circle your arms opposite of each other. Or, how about trying the classic pat-head-rub-belly exercise? Once those are mastered, try exercises that require you to move arms and legs in conjunction.
How it helps: The body is designed to move, and its parts need regular practice to move in conjunction with each other. Improving coordination is one of the key ingredients to staying upright and preventing falls.
These are just a few exercises older adult can do at home to build strength, improve balance, increase coordination, and, ultimately, fall in love with fitness to prevent injuries.