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The Best Exercise Advice to Reduce the Risk of Falls for Seniors


by: Sharon Wagner

seniorfriendly.info


As you grow older your risk for falls increases. Even more disturbing, falling can lead to serious injuries. With a handful of basic exercises added to your routine, you can greatly lower that risk.


Scary Statistics

Age brings a number of health-related concerns, and falling is one of the biggest. In fact, according to the 

National Council on Aging, falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors. American emergency rooms treat an older American every 11 seconds due to fall-related injuries. Some experts feel the fear of falling can even affect seniors’ quality of life in other ways, such as causing depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal. However, it’s important to understand that falling is not an unavoidable result of growing older. An exercise routine that engages balance, step, and strength exercises can be a key to lowering your risk for falls.


Stay Balanced

As US News & World Report explains, a number of changes can cause older adults to lose balance and stability. As we age, we can lose the ability to perceive our body’s position. When combined with any nerve damage due to medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes in our legs and feet, the result can be a tumble. What’s more, with reduced strength in our legs, arms, and core to catch ourselves as we go down, the ability to stay upright can become nearly impossible. Exercising can improve neurological function, boost blood flow to lower extremities, and enhance strength, bettering to your ability to stay balanced. Through exercises such as alternating lunges, single-leg stands, and slow toe touches, you can improve balance and stability.


Step It Up

Step exercises are a key to enhancing your mobility in your senior years. Reuters points out that a step-training program can increase your balance and strength, as well as enhance physical functioning. When everyday slips and missteps occur, thanks to a step-training program, you can recover your balance more easily and reduce the chance you’ll take a fall. It improves response time, snap decision-making, and your bodily reaction to becoming off-balance. Simply adding walking to your regimen is the key to your step training. Perform exercises while walking, such as tandem walking, shifting weight from one foot to the other, and stepping on a variety of surfaces.


Build Strength

While any form of exercising offers some level of strength building, using body-weight exercises or lifting weights can be particularly beneficial. Some professionals point out that a strength-training program can keep you more independent, help you stay more social, reverse some symptoms of aging, and boost your energy levels. Strength training can reduce the symptoms of several chronic conditions, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, obesity, depression, and back pain. If you’re new to strength training, one recommendation is to begin by focusing on your form. You can gradually add weights or resistance bands to your routine.


Making Your Plan

It’s important to avoid injury when you’re jumping into any new exercise regimen. Any time you’re beginning a new workout program, you should ease into it. You should also talk with your physician about any issues you have that will require personalizing your workout routine. You don’t want to overdo things or become injured in your effort to be more healthy. Some easy exercises for seniors include stretching, indoor walking, balance exercises and swimming. One suggestion is to have another adult assist you with your exercises initially. The important thing is to ensure you get started in a way that allows you to feel good and stay safe.


Strong and Stable

Reduce your risk of falling with a smart fitness plan added to your lifestyle. Do some balance, step, and strength exercises. You can be more confident, healthy, and strong throughout your senior years!


Courses offered in this article have not been evaluated or endorsed by Bring Smiles to Seniors, Inc. 

How Seniors Can Prepare for and Get Through the Grief of Losing a Spouse

Grieving for a deceased spouse is a completely normal and healthy part of life. This doesn’t make the process any easier, however. A senior going through the spouse-loss journey is going through one of the hardest moments in their life, and the moment can last for weeks, months, and even years. Here’s what you can do when the time comes.


First things first: make the passing as peaceful as possible

For most seniors, passing at home is the preferred way. You must do what you can to help them create a peaceful environment at home. This may involve home modifications, depending on the type of medical equipment they need for their palliative care. You will need to help your senior loved one set up a space for in-home hospice care. In the end, you want the space to be clean but not sterile. It should be warm and full of the things they know and love.


Seek help in the immediate aftermath

Even when you’re dealing with a prolonged illness, the moment you lose your spouse is a shocking and traumatic event. Unfortunately, you can’t just begin to grieve. There are multitudes of things you must do immediately following the death of your spouse. This includes, but is not limited to, making funeral arrangements, settling governmental accounts, handling life insurance, contacting banks, handling real estate and assets, and reviewing final wills and testaments. It’s a lot. You shouldn’t attempt to do it alone. Seek help among family first and then begin to assemble a team of friends, church members, attorneys, etc. to spread out the tasks.


Focus on your physical health first

When you’re grieving a lost loved one, there are a lot of things that are outside of your control—mainly your emotions. Focus on what you can control. You can make sure you stay well by being mindful of your diet and activity level. Grief can cause some people to comfort eat and others to lose their appetites completely. Try to focus on maintaining a healthy diet and try to get 30 minutes of exercise each day―even if it just means walking around your neighborhood. The combination of good food in and solid energy out will help you cope.


Stay social

Grief is a personal emotion, but it doesn’t have to be an isolating one. You may not feel like hanging out with friends and family every day after your spouse is gone, and that’s ok. But completely cutting yourself off from social interaction in an attempt to heal yourself is misguided. Being social is a tenant of overall mental well-being.

Not only that, but you are allowed to be happy, and you are allowed to laugh. Science has shown the healing power of laughter in grave situations. Smiling and laughing while reminiscing about your lost loved one is even more important. One research study showed decreased levels of anxiety and depression in widows/widowers who were able to be positive in memory of their spouses.


It’s okay to grieve for whatever amount of time it takes you. Some say you never actually stop grieving the loss of a spouse. What you can’t do is let that grief prevent you from enjoying the rest of your life. If you’re struggling to figure out how to get yourself well following this tragic event, there are online wellness courses available that can help. Beyond that, you should never be wary of asking for help. People love you, and it is not their burden to guide you through this difficult time; it is their privilege.


By: Hazel Bridges, Chief Wellness Coach for Seniors, AgingWellness.org


Photo by Christian Langballe on Unsplash

Courses offered in this article have not been evaluated or endorsed by Bring Smiles to Seniors, Inc.