Reduce Falls with 2 Useful Balance Exercises for Seniors to Do at Home

Balance exercises for seniors preserve independence

Balance training is essential for helping older adults reduce their fall risk.

This is important because falls are a leading cause of loss of independence or the need to move to assisted living.

We found a free 12 minute video that helps seniors improve their balance with 2 useful balance exercises for seniors to do at home.

In the video, physical therapists Bob and Brad clearly demonstrate how to do these exercises and explain how to make them less or more challenging as needed to suit your older adult’s abilities.

With regular practice, these simple exercises increase balance and reduce fall risk – keeping your older adult as independent as possible.




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Take safety precautions to prevent injuries while exercising

The last thing anyone wants is to get injured while exercising. That’s why it’s best to take it slow, especially in the beginning, until your older adult gets used to the movements and is steady on their feet.

Hear Bob and Brad talk about safety at 3:33 in the video.

If your older adult’s balance isn’t strong, make sure that someone is with them when they do these balance exercises. Many people could benefit from the safety and support that a gait belt can add. And if they normally use a cane, they should use it for these exercises.

Even if they start out with poor balance and need a lot of assistance, encourage your older adult to keep doing the exercises safely with someone at their side. With practice, they’ll gain balance and strength and will need less and less help.

 

2 useful balance exercises for seniors to do at home

Exercise 1 (3:05 in video)
Lay out the pattern of “dots” on the floor using something non-slip like non-adhesive shelf liner material.

Even something as simple as pieces of colored paper taped to the floor would work. Choose a color that contrasts with the floor so the dots are easy to see.

To do the basic exercise, start by standing on the middle dot. Keep the left foot on the ground and lift the right foot to touch the dot in the front. Then, use the right foot and touch the dot on the right side. Then, use the right foot and cross over in front to touch the dot on the left side (this is tough!). Finally, use the right foot to touch the dot behind.

Repeat on the other side by keeping the right foot on the ground and using the left foot to touch all the dots.

To adapt for people who are working on their mobility:

  • Use a cane
  • Get help with balance as needed (for example, using a gait belt)
  • Place the pads closer together

This is a challenging exercise, so most older adults won’t need to make it more difficult.

In case someone progresses beyond the basic exercise, here are some ways to make it more challenging. Remember to increase the difficulty slowly!

  • Place the pads farther apart
  • Replace the center standing dot with a foam exercise pad or flat cushion
  • Reduce vision with DIY “extra dark” sunglasses – see it at 6:02 in video (for safety, another person must be present when vision is impaired)
  • Combine all of the above to make it super challenging

 

Exercise 2  (7:55 in video)
Lay out “cones” in a T-shaped pattern.

You don’t have to buy the cones shown in the video, anything that’s fairly tall and slim, easy to see, and won’t fall over will work – maybe something like large plastic bottles of juice.

To do the basic exercise, start at the base of the T. Walk forward, just past the cone in front. Sidestep to the left-most cone. Sidestep all the way to the right-most cone. Sidestep back to the center cone. Walk backwards to the starting point.

To adapt for people who are working on their mobility:

  • Use a cane
  • Get help with balance or walking as needed (for example, using a gait belt)
  • Place the cones closer together to make the “T” smaller

This is a challenging exercise, so most older adults won’t need to make it more difficult.

In case someone progresses beyond the basic exercise, here are some ways to make it more challenging. Remember to increase the difficulty slowly!

  • Change up the footwear – shoes vs anti-slip grip socks
  • Wear the DIY “extra dark” sunglasses to reduce vision (for safety, another person must be present when vision is impaired)
  • Place the cones farther apart to make the “T” larger
  • Walk a little faster
  • Bend down and touch each cone

Add a “distraction”:

Many falls happen when someone gets distracted and is momentarily not fully concentrating on walking. To improve balance for these situations, do the same T exercise, but look in different directions while doing it. (See 10:39 in video)

 

Next Step  See a clear demonstration of 2 useful balance exercises for seniors to do at home from 2 physical therapists (12 minutes)

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Seniors News

 

This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain affiliate links. We never link to products or services for the sole purpose of making a commission. Recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.


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