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How To Improve Balance In Elderly

Balance issues are exceptionally common in the elder. As you age, the sensations in your feet start to decline. In turn, this can reduce your ability to detect when you become out of balance.

The result is an increased risk in falls – which can cause fractures, a broken hip, bruises, and even serious disability. Every year, at least 25% of the US population older than 65 years’ experience a fall.

In fact, an elderly individual is treated for a fall in an emergency room setting almost six times every minute in the country.

The elderly should participate in physical activity in order to maintain a better balance. There are also several exercises that could help older people with existing balance problems experience a reduction in the risk of falling.

This is usually accomplished through physical activities that may improve the strength and stability of muscles, tendons, and joints.

We take a look at some of the best ways that older individuals can improve their balance.

Strategies for Improving balance In Senior citizens

There are multiple ways that the elderly can improve their balance and, in turn, reduce their risk of suffering a fall.

When it comes to determining an effective way of improving balance in seniors, it is crucial to consider the severity of their immobility. If there are any specific conditions that are causing the individual difficulty with balance, this needs to be addressed too. For more visit this page.

RELATED: How to increase mobility in older adults

Use mobility Aids

The use of mobility aids is one useful method for reducing the risk of falls in senior citizens. There are multiple options that can be used, including canes and crutches. These products help to provide support for the person while they are walking.

Right shoes

Wearing the right shoes is another important strategy for improving the balance of an older person. These shoes tend to provide a larger area at the toes and offer better support at targeted areas of the feet. In turn, they help the person remain in balance and can significantly reduce the risk of falling.

RELATED: Nonslip slippers for seniors

Exercises for Seniors to Improve balance

Apart from the strategies that we shared above, there are certain exercises that may help to improve the strength of muscles and joints in an older person’s body.

One concerning factor about elderly individuals participating in physical activities is that certain exercises could be too much for their bodies.

This could lead to potentially harmful effects – for example, certain activities could make symptoms associated with a hip fracture worse, even when surgical treatment was provided.

There are, however, some exercises that put less strain on the body, but can still yield improvements in the senior person’s ability to keep their balance when walking.

One of the best ways for the elderly to keep active and maintain appropriate muscle tone is to go for a brisk walk frequently. Walking is considered an aerobic activity that gets the heart pumping but also works on several muscle groups – particularly in the legs and feet.

These are important muscles when it comes to talking about balance. When there is a weakness in the muscles that are located in the legs and the feet, going off-balance while walking becomes a more serious problem.

Other exercises that seniors can do to help improve their balance include:

  • A single-limb stance, which is an activity that specifically focuses on balance. Here, the person would balance on a single leg for a short period of time, and then switch to the other leg. While it may seem like quite a simple activity, it is a great way for an older person to regain a sense of balance when they stand still and when they move around.
  • Heel to toe walking is another effective strategy that can be practiced when taking a simple walk. The exercise involves walking with one foot placed in front of the other during movement – in such a way that the toe touches the other foot’s heel.
  • Back leg raises are a perfect activity for improving muscle strength in the lower back. The activity also targets the upper legs. With this activity, the person would position themselves behind a chair and lift one of their legs backward. The position would then be held for some time, after which the leg is returned to the ground. The other leg should then be raised.
  • Similar to a back leg raise, a side leg raise is also an excellent activity for improving balance. With this, the person would also stand behind a chair. They would then lift their one leg to the side instead of backward, hold the position, and bring the leg back to the floor. The movement should be alternated between the two legs a couple of times each day.
  • Wall pushups can help to work on several muscles without causing the same strain that a normal pushup would impose on the body. There is also no need for special equipment with these exercises – the person would only need access to a wall. They need to start by standing against the wall and then lean slightly forward. The palms of the hands are then placed against the wall. The hands and arms should be used to push the body away from the wall, and then the body should be pushed back toward the wall.

RELATED: Guide to exercises for seniors

What’s next?

When you lose your balance as an elder individual, your risk of suffering an injury, such as a broken hip, becomes something to be concerned about.

In serious cases, this could lead to hospitalization, disability, and other complications. There are methods that can be utilized to improve balance in the elderly, however, as we outlined in this post.

I hope this post was helpful. If you want to continue reading I will outline some related topics. In case you have trouble with putting on socks, you should consider assistive device for dressing. Clipping toenails is difficult if you cant bent, check my tips to overcome this problem.

Unable to put on socks?/Use this device for dressing

If you are unable to put on socks and you need a quick solution you should consider sock aid or dressing stick. If you have pain in your hip or knee you should do some exercises to increase the blood flow and reduce pain. This article will also suggest what you can do if you are unable to remove socks. Read to the end and find out a simple way to put on or remove socks.

Let’s face it, socks, stockings, and hose aren’t the easiest items of clothing to put on at the best of times. If you aren’t careful, you will stretch the garment out of shape and end up with it twisted up your leg, making it very uncomfortable.

You need to be agile and have a body that will allow you to touch your toes. Socks are even more difficult to put on when you have mobility problems like many of the seniors in the country today.

Why do you struggle to put your socks on?

Putting your socks on your feet needs a body supple enough to touch your toes or you must be able to sit down and lift your shin onto your opposite knee. Not only that, but you also need the use of both hands to do it properly.

The list of ailments that can prevent you from easily doing these simple movements contains many that you probably wouldn’t have thought of.

  • Hip or knee replacements.
  • Worn and painful leg and hip joints.
  • Fractures leg and arm bones.
  • Sciatica and other back pain.
  • Balance issues.
  • Arthritis in legs, arms, and hands.
  • Injuries to hands and arms.
  • Shoulder and neck pain.
  • Being overweight and not being able to bend at the waist.

Hip exercises to ease arthritis pain

Out of these, probably arthritis is the most common cause of problems in the over 60 years age range. As with all types of osteoarthritis, relief partially depends on how often you’re able to exercise the joints. Because of the pain involved with moving these joints, many people worry that they’re doing more harm than good. Don’t worry, this isn’t true.

Yes, it’s natural to experience aches and soreness after exercising but it’s a fact that exercising the muscles around a joint will increase its mobility, increase the blood flow, reduce pain and increase its function.

If you haven’t exercised much before, remember to start gently and move slowly or you might end up tearing muscles and ligaments. And most importantly don’t do too many at first.

Exercise 1

  • Stand next to a wall, balance on your right foot and hold on to the wall to keep your balance.
  • Keep your leg straight with a slight bend at the knee.
  • Tap your left foot around your right one as if it’s tapping out the numbers on a clock from 1 to 12.
  • Retrace the number in the reverse direction from 12 to 1.
  • Repeat this four times.

Note: don’t twist at the waist and don’t lean forward.

Exercise 2

  • Lie on your back with legs extended and together.
  • Bend one knee and hold your shin with both hands.
  • Pull so your knee comes toward your chest. Don’t pull more than is comfortable. With practice, this might become easier.
  • Hold your leg in place for 30 seconds then replace your leg on the floor for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat with your other leg.
  • Repeat using both legs together.
  • Repeat the entire sequence four times.

Note: try to keep your back flat on the floor.

Exercise 3

  • Lie on your stomach on a firm flat surface such as a floor or your bed.
  • Place a pillow under your hips while keeping your head, neck and upper body in line and relaxed.
  • Bend a knee to 90 degrees.
  • Lift the other leg straight up as far as you can go.
  • Slowly lower the leg to the floor counting to five while you lower.
  • Repeat this eight times
  • Repeat everything with your other leg.

Note: start with 8 repetitions, then over time slowly work your way up to 12 repetitions. When this becomes easy, add 1 pound weights onto your ankles and start from 8 repetitions again. Keep adding weights as the exercise becomes easier.

There are many other exercises you can try. As long as they are ‘resistance exercises’ you will feel some benefit. Ask your doctor or physiotherapist for exercises that may be more suitable for your circumstances.

RELATED: Exercises for seniors

Is there Something to help put Socks on?

Exercises are great for long term help, but how will we manage to put our socks on today or tomorrow?  If you have a partner who can help, then great. However, this isn’t helping you become more independent, is it?

You should look at the many online catalogs, that specialize in dressing aids. Look for the following two aids:

Sock Aids

Sock aids can help you if you’re temporarily or permanently incapacitated and helps both disabled and elderly people to keep their independence.

Most sock aids are just variations of a set format. They consist of a ‘foot chute’ over which your sock slides, and into which you place your foot. You then pull the handle straps which pull the sock on your foot and push the chute from your foot. The sock then travels up your ankle.

Dressing Stick

That sounds great doesn’t it but how do you take your sock off? The solution is a ‘dressing stick’.

This is a stick between two and three feet in length, with a hook on the end. Some have a variety of hook shapes to help with different dressing tasks from socks to jackets and from panties to shirts. Some also include a shoehorn for help with putting your shoes on. Additionally, most of them dismantle for easy storage when traveling.

RELATED: Guide to dressing aids for seniors

How do you take socks off?

How do you take your shoes off at the moment? With difficulty, I’ll bet. It’s relatively easy to remove your shoes without using your hands. Just, ease the heel of one shoe off with the toe of the other foot. But how about removing your socks. Not so easy.

You probably trap the toe of one sock under the other foot and try to drag your sock off by pulling your foot out. Not only does this stretch your socks, but you are also standing for a while without proper balance and this can be very dangerous.

Using a dressing stick allows you to push the sock down your leg and over your heel without stretching anything and without losing your balance. Try one, you’ll be amazed at how easy the task becomes.

What’s next?

Don’t wear socks all the time. It is important to take off your stockings before going to bed, especially if you wear compression ones. If you liked this dressing aid you should also check out more useful products for seniors.

How to Get up from the Toilet?

As we get older many of us are less able to move around unaided. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s a common problem with getting old, and may just be a consequence of losing muscle mass. This, we can often help with regular exercise.

Unfortunately, if you have problems sitting and standing at the toilet, you need help now, not sometime in the future. So, let’s look at a few ways to help with this basic necessity.

Techniques to Help when sitting or standing from the Toilet

Believe it or not, you can learn the correct way to stand up and sit down at the toilet seat. This will make life so much easier when you answer a call of nature.

Likewise, you can also make use of many aids designed to help use this essential household fixture.

Standing

If you already have a frame or grab rails around your toilet, use them. If you haven’t got any, it’s worthwhile thinking about having some fitted.

RELATED: Best grab bars for seniors

Let’s assume you already have armrests you can use.

  • Place your hands firmly onto the frame or grab rails.
  • Lean forwards so you move toward the front edge of the toilet seat. You will probably have to shuffle on your buttocks, transferring your weight from one to the other and slightly lifting your body using your arms.
  • Place your feet about shoulder-width apart and make sure they’re in line under your knees. Not tucked underneath or pushed out in front.
  • Move your head and shoulders in-line above your knees.
  • Push down on the armrests while straightening your legs. If you haven’t got armrests or grab bars, you can place your hands onto your knees and push down on those. It’s not as good as using a frame but it will help.
  • Stand up.

Remember: Don’t hold onto a walking frame while you stand. It isn’t fixed and might topple over. Only use something that is firmly fixed to the wall or floor.

Sitting

But how do you sit down on the toilet in the first place? Maybe these tips will help you overcome that problem.

  • Stand so you can feel the front of the toilet seat against the back of your legs.
  • If you have grab rails,  hold onto them firmly.
  • Stand with your feet about a shoulder distance apart and distribute your weight evenly between them.
  • Bend slightly at your hips and knees and reach back for the frame if you have one.
  • Carry on feeling the toilet seat against your legs, slowly sit down taking your weight through your arms.
  • If you don’t have a frame or grab rail, hold onto your knees and push against those as you sit.
  • Move your bottom about until you are in the correct position and are comfortable.

Use toilet aids:

If you need a toilet aid to help you sit or stand, it’s best if you speak to your doctor who can refer you to an appropriate health care specialist for an assessment. As everyone’s needs are different, you should have a one-to-one discussion to find out what your needs are, and what aid is best for you.

Let’s have a little look at some of those that are available.

Toilet Frames and Surrounds

There are many of these on the market. All with a slight gimmick to help you decide to buy theirs. Although a frame placed around the toilet and fixed to the floor is probably the simplest, it may not be the best. The big problem with a frame is that it is fixed and you can’t move it out of the way to clean or if you need access with a wheelchair.

The best one to overcome these problems is a wall-mounted, drop down rail. They provide support when you need it and can be folded out of the way if you have able-bodied people sharing your home, need to clean around the toilet bowl or require access if you have a wheelchair.

Remember that if you choose a drop-down rail, it must be fitted to a wall with fixings appropriate for the wall. Many modern homes use plasterboard drywall as an internal wall covering.

Usually, these will not be strong enough to support the rail and your bodyweight unless the rail also has legs and feet that rest on the floor and can transfer your body weight to the floor. If you are in any doubt as to the best way to install these, consult a suitably qualified professional.

You will also find that the ideal type of and location for grab bars, rails and frames will depend on your size, stature, your specific mobility problem, whether you need a carer,  as well as the bathroom’s layout. Once again, this information can only be assessed by a suitably qualified occupational or physical therapist.

Elevated Toilet Seat

Many seniors with mobility problems find they can’t bend down to sit on a standard height toilet seat. Either their hips don’t work properly or their knees are at fault. A common way to fix this problem is by using a replacement toilet seat, one that’s thicker than standard. Although, there are many different variations on the theme.

Raise the toilet seat’s height. You can attach a raised toilet seat to the existing ceramic bowl while keeping the existing seat in the ‘up’ position. Or, remove the existing seat and replace it with a raised one using the same bolt holes. These methods can be temporary or permanent.

RELATED: How to make toilet seat higher?

Comfort Height Toilet

Raise the height of the toilet bowl. You can either position the standard ceramic toilet onto a shallow plinth, just high enough to give you the advantage. Otherwise, you can buy specially made non-standard toilet units that are taller than standard. In both cases, raising the height requires plumbing to be adjusted to suit different water and drainage systems. For this reason, it’s best to reserve these methods for a permanent application only.

Commode

A commode is a mobile chair on lockable wheels which has a detachable toilet bowl fitted in the seat. These are useful if you are bedridden and cannot walk very far or very quickly.

Many seniors have problems with needing the toilet in the middle of the night and might awaken with barely enough time to make it to the bathroom.

This is why a commode is so valuable. It can stay in your bedroom, and for much of the day, it can be used as a normal chair. When you need to use the toilet, just fold the seat upwards, revealing the bowl.

What’s next?

Whichever method you use to raise the toilet seat, remember that other people who live in your home, may wish to use the toilet as well and yours may not suit them. If you have more than one toilet at home, reserve one for you and one for everyone else. If not, then be prepared for some people, especially little children, to find your seat too high.