Five Tips to Improve Balance and Prevent Falls

30% of seniors 65 older encounter at least one fall each year. Falls remain the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Australia, with approximately 200,000 falls each year resulting in hospitalization.

The natural aging process increases risk factors for falls. Some of these changes can include a person’s general health, vision, the anxiety of falling, medication, and reduction in strength and muscle mass. All of this can contribute to the increased risk of falls.

Many of the risks we have listed above can be managed and modified to help reduce the risk of Balance and Prevent falls. Let’s take a look at some!

The Five E’s of falls prevention can effectively reduce the risk of falls and injury related to falls.

1. Environment: Take a look around the home in each room and remove any hazards that may be fall hazards.

‒ Repair or remove loose rugs and floorboards from your home.
‒ Use non-slip mats in your bathtub or shower, or consider using a shower chair.
‒ Clear away clutter around the house for easy access.
‒ Ensure adequate lighting throughout your home.
– Place night lights or have a torch in easy access.
‒ Install railings and grab rails as needed.
‒ Wear appropriate, supportive and well-fitted shoes.

2. Exercise: Exercise is a fantastic way to reduce risks, in fact, the more we exercise the better our strength and balance will become!

Exercises that can help to reduce the risk of falls include:

‒ Balance exercises: These include standing on one leg.
‒ Resistance/strength training: Utilize hand-held weights, resistance bands, bodyweight exercises, and gym-based machines.
‒ Flexibility exercises like Tai Chi, Yoga, and Pilates.
‒ Low-impact aerobic exercises, walking.

3. Eyes ‒ Have an annual eye test to monitor for any visual changes including cataracts and other eye or vision changes.

4. Ears ‒ Hearing loss has been associated with an increased risk of falls.

‒ Dizziness can contribute to falls, including vertigo and other inner ear problems.
‒ Have your hearing checked to monitor for any changes.

5. Education ‒ A great way to reduce risk is to educate yourself on all the steps you can take to improve your own safety. This could be attending education talks and seminars or even understanding what medication you are taking. Medication can cause adverse reactions to your balance, vision, or hearing. Learn about this by talking to your GP or pharmacist.

Consider yoga and Pilates to improve balance!

Where to from here?

Taking part in an exercise program should be something that we aspire to continue for many years. Changing our own behaviour is important to stick to an exercise program is a fantastic way to improve our own safety.

Making the exercise program enjoyable, sociable, and beneficial to your health can improve health, reduce fall risks, and maintain independence. Participating in group exercise programs catering to older adults is a way to ensure safety and gain benefits for your health.

Exercise programs like Tai Chi, gentle group exercise classes, yoga, and Pilates for seniors, going for a walk, are all appropriate and beneficial physical activities.

If you’d like to know more about improving your balance, there are hundreds of Accredited Exercise Physiologists who can support you through one on one sessions or in a group class setting. To find your closest expert, click here. 

Written by: Silvana Deep (Accredited Exercise Physiologist, ESSAM)

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Resources: Vitkovic, J., Le, C., Lee, S. L., & Clark, R. A. (2016). The contribution of hearing and hearing loss to balance control. Audiology and neurotology, 21(4), 195-202.$File/Don’t%20fall%20for%20it.pdf

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