2 Fall Prevention Exercises for Seniors: Improve Balance While Reaching

1 out of 3 older adults fall each year

Every year, millions of people aged 65+ fall. In fact, 1 out of 4 older people falls each year.

And, if someone falls one time, the chance that they’ll fall again doubles

Falls can happen at any time. Even simple movements like reaching for an object can trigger a fall. 

That’s why balance exercises for seniors to prevent falls are so important. They reduce fall risk by improving balance and strength. 

We found a 7 minute video that helps older adults improve the balance they need for everyday movements like reaching. 

It explains why reaching can put someone off balance and demonstrates how to do 2 simple at home balance exercises – no equipment needed.

Note: The video’s title says it’s for people who have had a stroke, but as discussed in the video, these exercises are perfect for anyone who would benefit from improved balance.


The simple act of reaching for something could cause seniors to fall

Bob and Brad are physical therapists who make easy-to-follow videos showing how to do physical therapy type exercises at home.

In this video, they describe why the simple act of reaching for something often causes falls in older adults. 

Then, they demonstrate simple exercises that improve balance and coordination while reaching. 

This reduces the risk that your older adult could fall while trying to get something.


2 simple home exercises for balance while reaching

It’s important that your older adult is safe and balanced while going about their daily activities. 

To reduce their risk of falling, Brad demonstrates 2 exercises that will improve balance while reaching for an object.

Exercise 1 (1 min 43 sec in video)
Place a tissue box and a TV remote control on a high table or countertop. Any similarly sized objects will work – one larger and one smaller.

Your older adult should stand far enough away so that they will have to lean forward and reach to pick up an object.

Ask them to lean forward to pick up the larger object with one arm and bring it toward them while standing up straight again. Then, lean forward and put the object back onto the counter.

If that’s easy, move up to the smaller object, which will be more difficult.

Exercise 2 (4 min in video)
Have your older adult stand between two countertops or two high tables. Standing where the counter forms an L shape might work or find a stretch of clear countertop to move across.

Put the tissue box and remote control on one side.

Ask your senior to use one arm to pick up the larger object and move it across their body to the other side. Then, pick it up again and move it back to the starting point.

Brad also shows a few variations for this exercise: how to modify for an arm that’s weak from stroke, how to use a cane for extra balance, and how to make the exercise more challenging.

How many repetitions? Which side?
They don’t say how many repetitions to do, so it might be good to start with just a few and see how your older adult responds.

If they’re very tired, you’ve probably reached their limit and can increase slowly over time.

If they find the exercise very easy, either increase the distance from the countertop as Brad showed and/or increase the number of repetitions.

If your older adult has had a stroke, it might be helpful to focus more on their weaker side.


Prevent falls during exercise

Safety first! The most important thing is that your older adult doesn’t fall or hurt themselves while exercising.

For safety, Bob and Brad recommend using a gait belt and standing next to your older adult while they do these exercises (see 3:05 min in video).

That way you can provide instant stability in case they get off balance.


Next Step  See 2 simple at home exercises that reduce the risk of falling while reaching for something (7 min)


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


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