Balance and Strength May Reduce Fall Risk for Seniors

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Visiting Angels

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Jul 22, 2023

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Florida - Southwest

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Maintaining balance and strength is increasingly vital to the overall well-being of aging adults, particularly for those with mobility concerns. Falls can have severe consequences for seniors, leading to debilitating injuries, loss of independence, and a decline in overall quality of life.

One in four older adults experiences a fall each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can assist your senior loved one in reducing their risk of experiencing severe injuries by helping to improve their balance and strength.

What Causes Balance Problems?

Mobility concerns become increasingly prevalent in aging adults due to various factors, including physiological changes, chronic health conditions, and reduced physical activity. These issues can significantly impact their balance, strength, and daily lives, affecting their independence, safety, and overall well-being.

In addition to normal aging, balance problems can be caused by:

  • Medication side effects
  • Inner ear problems
  • Medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, stroke, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc.)

How Can Seniors Improve Balance and Strength?

Recognizing and addressing mobility concerns is crucial in empowering older adults to maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle while minimizing the risks associated with falls and functional limitations. By working with your loved one’s doctor, you can develop a plan to address their balance and mobility concerns, which may include:

  • Physical therapy
    Physical therapists are experts who understand how reflexes, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing all work together to help people move. A physical therapist can assess your loved one’s condition and recommend balance exercises for seniors to address areas of concern and help them get around confidently.
  • Occupational therapy
    Occupational therapists can teach strategies to reduce fall risks, such as getting up from a chair properly or using a cane or walker. Occupational therapists can also work with family members to teach them how to assist a loved one with mobility concerns.
  • Yoga and tai-chi
    Yoga and tai chi for seniors are exercises that can help improve strength and balance in older people. These forms of exercise are gentle and can be safely modified to be done while seated.

How Can Seniors With Balance Problems Stay Safe?

Improving balance through exercise can help your senior remain independent for as long as possible. However, if your older adult is experiencing challenges with balance and wants to age in their own home, one-on-one assistance from a qualified personal care provider can reduce the risk of a fall — especially when navigating the bathroom, stairs, or outdoor spaces.

A Visiting Angels’ caregiver can be by your loved one’s side to assist them when getting out of bed or a chair, walking around the home, bathing, or going outdoors. Through its Safe and Steady® Fall Prevention Program, Visiting Angels will keep your loved one as safe as possible by promoting habits and easy home modifications to reduce your loved one's risk of falling at home.

Contact your local Visiting Angels home care office and learn how the Safe and Steady® Fall Preventionprogram can help reduce your aging loved one’s risk of experiencing a life-altering fall and keep them safe and comfortable at home.

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The Importance of Medical Alert Systems for Seniors Who are Aging in Place

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That is because these health conditions can further compromise seniors immune function, therefore increasing their vulnerability to illness. Since flu strains and cold viruses in the environment pose a higher risk to seniors, it is crucial to take extra precautions to stay healthy during this time.9 Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu SeasonWash Your Hands OftenFrequent handwashing is a simple yet powerful way to combat cold and flu viruses. Make sure to frequently wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds (or sing Happy Birthday twice). This is especially important after being out in public or touching surfaces like door knobs, railings, light switches, and more. When soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can be used. This can be a good option for seniors with less mobility to still keep their hands clean.Be sure to also wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, and using the bathroom to prevent the further spread of germs. Avoid Close Contact with Sick PeopleDuring flu season, remember to limit close contact with people who are sick. It may sound obvious, but it is an important reminder for seniors.Viruses spread easily through close contact. If your friends or family members are feeling under the weather, encourage them to take precautions and wait to visit with them until they are better. If you find yourself near someone who is sick, avoid touching, shaking hands, hugging, or sharing drinks with them.  Maintain a Healthy DietA balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will provide seniors with essential nutrients that can improve their immune system. Certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are particularly important for maintaining immunity. In fact, studies show that additional Vitamin C can shorten the length of an illness or limit its severity. So grab some oranges and get in that Vitamin C (but be sure to consult with your doctor first)!Get Your Flu ShotOne of the most effective ways to protect yourself from the flu is by getting an annual flu shot. The flu vaccine is specifically designed to match the common flu strains that year. Seniors should prioritize getting a flu shot because it can lessen their risk of developing the flu. It can also reduce the severity of flu symptoms and protect against complications. Click here to find locations near you that offer the flu vaccine.Stay Physically ActiveRegular exercise not only helps seniors stay in shape, but also contributes to a strong immune system. According to the Cleveland Clinic, just 20-30 minutes of exercise per day can boost your immune system significantly, helping you fight off illnesses.Staying active can also improve circulation, reduce stress, and enhance your overall well-being. Seniors can participate in countless fitness activities such as pickleball, walking, Zumba, swimming, aerobics, yoga and many more. Most assisted living communities offer fitness activities for seniors as part of their daily programming. Learn more about how you can participate on FloridaSeniorConsulting.com. Get Enough SleepGetting adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining a strong immune system. Studies have shown that sleep helps the immune system function properly, and that chronic sleep loss is a risk factor for an impaired immune system. So, make sure to prioritize a good nights sleep as much as possible. Seniors should aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night. Drink Plenty of LiquidsStaying hydrated is a crucial part of maintaining your health during flu season. Drinking water helps the body fight off germs. Women should aim to drink 2.7 liters of water per day, and men should aim for 3.7 liters. Florida seniors in particular need to make drinking enough water a priority because Florida temperatures can still be high during the fall, increasing the risk of dehydration and heat stroke. Avoid Touching Your FaceMany of us touch our faces as a mindless habit. However, it is best to avoid touching your face if you can help it, or to wash your hands first. Germs can easily enter your body through your eyes, mouth, and nose. So, the more you touch your face, the more germs you may be introducing. Avoid Crowds and Unnecessary TravelBeing in crowded areas increases your chances of catching the cold or flu from someone else. This risk is increased in indoor and poorly-ventilated areas. If you cannot avoid being in these crowded areas, try to keep your distance from others as much as you can.Keeping Your Loved Ones HealthySeniors should be vigilant when it comes to cold and flu season. By taking proactive steps to prevent sickness, seniors can significantly reduce their risk of getting sick and continue to lead an active and fulfilling life.  Making sure your loved ones stay healthy can be difficult, especially if you live far away. Florida Senior Consulting treats seniors as part of the family. We will guide them through the senior living process to make sure they get the care they need to stay safe and healthy. Visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com or call (800) 969-7176 to speak with an expert senior advisor based right in Florida. Our services are at no cost to you.

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Visiting Angels

Home Health 1222 Southeast 47th Street, Cape Coral, Florida, 33904

The Visiting Angels national, private duty network of home care agencies is the nation's leader for providing non-medical senior care. Our Angels provide in-home care, respite care, senior personal care, elder care, and companion care so that elderly adults can continue to live independently in their own homes throughout America.

Visiting Angels

Non-Medical 13180 North Cleveland Avenue, North Fort Myers, Florida, 33903

The Visiting Angels national, private duty network of home care agencies is the nation's leader for providing non-medical senior care. Our Angels provide in-home care, respite care, senior personal care, elder care, and companion care so that elderly adults can continue to live independently in their own homes throughout America.

Visiting Angels

Non-Medical 4210 Metro Parkway, Fort Myers, Florida, 33916

Visiting Angels is a national network of in-home care agencies providing non-medical senior care. Our Angels provide in-home care, respite care, senior personal care, elder care, and companion care so that elderly adults can continue to live independently in their own homes.  We accept all long-term care insurance policies and offer a free long-term care insurance benefit analysis.