The aging process often involves several factors that can lead to a loss of balance or balance disorders, which can increase your risk of falling. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to prevent falls and problems with balance, including:
• Reviewing co-existing health conditions and medications with your doctor to see if any affect your balance.
• Getting your vision checked, as it plays an integral role in balance.
• Making your home safer, such as removing throw rugs, install grab bars in the bathroom, and avoid wearing socks or slippers on smooth surfaces.
• Developing a regular exercise routine that helps strengthen your muscles and improve balance.
Before you start any exercise routine, talk to your doctor about what is safe for you.
One of the most important parts of preventing falls is beginning a regular exercise routine that incorporates walking, balance and strengthening exercises. A few simple exercises that you can practice at home are:
• Heel Raises
• Toe Raises
• Standing on one foot
• Standing with narrow support
Start by practicing these while holding on to the back of a chair or something else to help stabilize you. As you get stronger, you can stop holding on to the chair. Eventually, you may feel strong enough to go for a walk with a friend or join exercise classes at your local gym.
The key to sticking to an exercise routine is to find things you like to do that get you moving. If you aren’t sure where to start or need help, talk to your doctor about what options are available to you. Cone Health Neurorehabilitation Center has an exceptional team of physical therapists and related healthcare providers dedicated to helping individuals in the community improve their balance and prevent falls.
Christina Weaver is a licensed physical therapist and balance and vestibular specialist at Cone Health Neurorehabilitation Center. Christina received a Bachelor of Science in zoology at N.C. State University in 1996, and a Master’s of physical therapy from Western Carolina University in 1998. She also received her vestibular certification from Emory University in 2002.