How do I help my residents improve their balance?

We all know exercise can reduce the fall risk of older adults, and improve balance. Here are tips to help you teach the best balance classes:

1) Include visual exercises in your balance classes by asking residents to focus on a vertical object in front of them as they move (such as a door, tree trunk or corner of a building).

2) Exercise the ear! The inner ear tells the brain where the body is in space. Exercises for this include safely bending side to side and/or turning circles.

3) Include exercises that strengthen the muscles in the legs and feet to maintain a vertical balance position. These are the muscles and joints that give the brain information about the ground we stand on!

4) Using a walker or cane trains the body to lean forward or to the side, which increases fall risk when not using the device. Teach the proper use of these devices, as well as exercises that strengthen the upper torso and muscles between the shoulder blades to enhance upright posture.

5) Reduce the fear of falling. The more someone thinks they are going to fall, the more likely they will fall. Anxiety can impair good judgment. Balance exercises increase confidence, while meditation can contribute to decreased anxiety.

Residents living with dementia:

All residents can benefit by getting their vision checked regularly and wearing good supportive footwear.

For a great resource on balance, check out our evidence based FallProof master classes with Dr. Debra Rose and Tai Chi with Gloria

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