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:
Everyone’s level is different, and assistance and devices should be used per your therapist. But here are some ideas…
- sitting and reaching (Cornhole, Jenga, even pin the tail on the donkey!)
- standing in place (puzzles, board games- use large print and pieces for decreased eye strain)
- transitions from sit to stand (play a game at taller counter and stand when it’s your turn)
- standing and reaching Use memory cards and place matches on the wall with sticky tack, play pass with a balloon)
- standing and picking something up off of the floor (picking up the Cornhole bags, or a plastic version of horseshoes: watch your safety and body mechanics!)
- walking– smooth and non level surfaces (could set up an ‘obstacle course’, use appropriate help and devices)
- walking and reaching (retrieve sticky notes off of walls, practise dusting: use assistance and devices)
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.
Tri-ominos (affiliate link) with large numbers.
Cornhole (plastic set) (affiliate link) could be used for sitting and reaching, standing and reaching and picking things up off of the floor.
For more fun ideas, check out handout you can use for family education with balance training in home care.
You can find this Home Program handout on my Premium Resources page, along with 40+ others.
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