1 out of 3 older adults fall each year
Every year, millions of people aged 65+ fall. In fact, 1 out of 3 older people falls each year. And, if someone falls one time, the chance that they’ll fall again doubles.
Fall prevention exercises for seniors can help reduce fall risk by improving balance and strength. We found a 7 minute video that helps older adults improve balance needed for essential tasks.
Reaching can cause falls
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 act of reaching for something often causes falls in older adults. They show how to do simple exercises that improve balance and coordination while reaching. This reduces the risk that your senior will fall while trying to get something.
The video’s title says it’s for people who have had a stroke, but as Bob and Brad mention in the video, these exercises are also perfect for anyone who needs to improve their balance.
2 simple home exercises for balance
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 (1:43 in video)
Place a tissue box and a 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.
Then, ask your senior 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 shows a few variations: 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.
We also think it’s a good idea to do the exercise first on one side of the body and then switch to the other side. If your older adult has had a stroke, it might be helpful to focus more on their weaker side.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMjS4M741Js
Prevent falls during exercise
Like Bob and Brad mention in the video — safety first! The last thing you’d want is for your older adult to fall while doing this exercise.
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.