Prevent falls by making an effort to maintain your strength and balance using these tips.

 

 

Laney Berg:

Did you know that every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.

 

Hello, and welcome to the third video of a four-part series on fall prevention. My name is Laney Berg, and I am the operations manager of Alternative Senior Care. We are a home care company serving central Minnesota for over 15 years. In the previous videos we talked about the causes of falls in the elderly as well as some of the things you can do to prevent falls. If you saw the last videos you will know the three tips that involve seeing your family doctor, your optometrist, and also making sure you talk with your pharmacist, checking out your medications and making sure that everything works together. However, the tips I’m going to give you today, which address the issues of muscle weakness and poor balance, are things that you can do for yourself.

 

One misconception that people have is that as you age you get weaker and there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, that’s wrong. Yeah. We do lose our muscle mass and strength as we age, but there’s so much more that we can do to maintain the strength and our balance. Don’t just take it sitting down, so to speak. If there’s only one thing you remember from this video today, it should be, “Keep moving.” In the last video I mentioned that the fear of falling is a huge indicator of future falls and this is why if we stop moving, are less active, we lose muscle strength and have a decrease in balance. Then that just puts us more at an increased risk for fall. And if then we just have a small fall, but we develop a fear of falling, which leads us to being less active, we want to be less active because of fear. You can see the cycle, it just keeps going. There’s only one way to disrupt the cycle and that is to get moving.

 

I’m going to give you a couple of ways to get moving and show you a couple of easy exercises you can do to help increase your strength and your balance. Let’s first talk about being more active. What can you do today? Well, that’s easy. The first thing that you can do probably is go for a walk. Yeah, go ahead. Call a friend, walk around the block, go down a path. Or if the weather is bad, you can try walking around a store. How about just instead of finding the closest parking spot at Walmart you park a little bit farther out, so then you can walk back and forth and bring some more exercise into your day and movement. You want to keep moving.

 

One more idea is if you take the stairs, if you’re able. Instead of the elevator, you could get off one floor early and take one flight of stairs that can increase your activity level. I’m going to encourage you to share and post your ideas on how to be more active in your daily life.

 

Another way to increase your muscle strength and balance is to attend an exercise class or go to a gym. There are many ways and options in our communities that you could get active. Check them out and find one that fits your level of comfort and your ability. Some insurance companies may even help pay for the class so you should check into that. It’s important.

 

Now I’m going to show you two very simple exercises that you can do at home. Please remember to consult your physician before starting any exercises. The only equipment you’ll need is a straight back chair. This exercise is great for strengthening thighs and buttocks. Do three to five times a week. Sit in a straight back chair with your feet shoulder-width apart, count to four as you slowly rise up to the standing position. Try not to use your hands. If it’s too difficult, you can start by using your hands for support. Pause, then slowly lower yourself to the chair and bend your knees to the count of four. Repeat 10 times. Rest for one minute and complete another 10. If this is too difficult, just start at a lower number and then try to build up to 10.

 

Now, for the second exercise. You’ll use the same chair as you bend your knees. Get that chair and count to four. You’ll want to straighten your legs with both hands on the back of the chair and slowly lift your leg out to the side as you count to that four. But you want to keep your legs straight. Only a small amount of movement’s necessary. You want to pause, then slowly lower your foot back to the ground to the count of four. Repeat 10 times with each leg. Rest for one minute and then complete another set of 10 with each leg.

 

I hope these simple ideas and exercises will inspire you to be more active and reduce your risk for falls. If you want more information you can go to stopfalls.org and stay tuned for the fourth video in our four-part series. We’re going to talk about how you can make more changes in your home to make it a safer place and prevent falls. Thank you and stay safe.

 

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