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Balance activities that we can do in the comfort of our own home can be life changing!
One of the greatest risks we face as we age is falling. Every year in America, according to the National Council On Aging (NCOA), 1 in 4 people 65 or older falls. September is National Healthy Aging Month. According to recent research on fall prevention, although there are many factors which can help reduce falls, exercise produces consistently beneficial results (JAMA 2018).
Fall prevention programs should include balance activities, tailored to a person’s ability.
Fall prevention exercise programs should involve strengthening, cardiovascular exercise (walking, biking, etc) and balance activities. For safety and greatest benefit, the balance activities should be tailored to a person’s specific needs and abilities. The best action would be to talk with your physician about getting an evaluation from a Physical or Occupational Therapist- their insight in developing a program specifically for your safety and level could be very beneficial, as no one program is appropriate for everyone. However, the most important thing is to start moving!
It is good to challenge balance and improve safety in the home in a variety of ways:
Family Caregivers and Seniors: These are general ideas for improving balance that you can discuss with your health care team. Consult and follow your personal health care team’s guidelines. Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new exercise program. Please see the medical disclaimer.
- sitting and reaching (Cornhole, Jenga, even pin the tail on the donkey.) Use good posture and core activation with all movements.
- standing in place (puzzles, board games- use large print and pieces for decreased eye strain) Stand in upright posture.
- transitions from sit to stand (play a game at taller counter and stand when it’s your turn) Use good form with movements.
- standing and reaching Use memory cards and place matches on the wall with sticky tack, play pass with a balloon) Weight shifting form side to side, and forward and back improves balance!
- standing and picking something up off of the floor (picking up the Cornhole bags, or a plastic version of horseshoes) Use good posture and body mechanics!
- walking– smooth and non level surfaces (set up an ‘obstacle course’, use appropriate help and devices)
- walking and reaching (retrieve sticky notes off of walls) Maintain safety with assistance and devices as needed.
Games can bring an added cognitive component to challenge balance in home care.
Games can bring an added cognitive component, as well as some fun for home health exercise and balance. Use games that are light, easy to carry, and washable! A great tip for clinicians: carry a ziplock bag with plastic game pieces that you can wipe down and reuse for standing activities. Check out these games that are perfect for seniors (affiliate link):
Playing Boggle (affiliate link) while standing can help increase standing endurance.
Cornhole(use a washable plastic set) (affiliate link) could be used for sitting and reaching, standing and reaching and picking things up off of the floor.
Help your loved one or client stay compliant with exercise logs health trackers- you can find Individual Printable Resources or get access to over 50 printable handouts for one low price on the ALL ACCESS PASS page!
If you are new to home care and would benefit from an Ebook full of info and tips from seasoned clinicians, check out this link!
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