Exercise is Key to Fall Prevention in the Elderly

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Exercise is Key to Fall Prevention in the Elderly

Posted on August 23, 2012

Exercise is key when it comes to fall prevention in the elderly. Statistics show that injuries caused by falls are the leading cause of death among people 65 and older, and that the risk of falling only increases with age. The loss of independent function and strength is the biggest culprit of falls. Of the elderly who suffer from fall related injuries, 50 percent are later found to be admitted to nursing homes or elder care facilities.

Poor muscle tone, decreased strength, loss of bone mass and flexibility are all side effects of failing to exercise regularly. Exercising can increase strength in core muscles and assist in maintaining balance when done on a regular basis. Balance and mobility exercises are essential in the daily routines of older adults.

Try encouraging the older adults you know to participate in scheduled exercise routines. Be sure to tailor the exercises based on the physical capabilities of the individuals to maximize progress. As exercise programs become more consistent, be sure to slowly increase the difficulty overtime as initial strength and balanced are improved. Here are examples of exercises that can be implemented that will result in more flexibility, improved posture and balance, increase overall strength and assist in maintaining bone mass.

Chair exercises:

While sitting, work on stretching the legs individually by rotating and bending joints working from the ankle up to the hip according to one’s ability. Once stretching has made its way to the hip, work on leg extensions and strengthening of muscles by holding feet straight out and as parallel to the ground as possible. Timing the leg extensions is a great way to track progress in strength.

Standing exercises:

While standing, work on shifting weight from one foot to the other holding onto a chair for extra support if needed. Once this is exercise is completed with ease, practice standing on one leg for a limited time and then alternating and repeating with the other leg. Through time this activity can be lead into walking exercises to work on proper heel to toe placement of the feet. Also be sure that individuals always take the time to make themselves aware of their surroundings when walking.

For more information and helpful hints on improving balance, strength and mobility click here, and remember the progress of exercise is first determined by the mind and the willingness to do what it takes to gain strength from the inside out.