Let's face it. Many of us have chuckled at the commercial where the woman falls and cries out, "I've fallen and I can't get up." We're not laughing at her... just at the awful production of the actual commercial. The acting isn't the best, after all. But the issue is a serious one.
Annually, thousands of American seniors die after breaking a hip. The fear of falling is valid. When a senior falls, head injuries and broken bones naturally increase this fear as their independence starts to ebb away. Their health often declines steadily after such a fall. That's why it is essential to encourage your elderly loved ones to engage in fall-prevention and mobility exercises.
Researchers in France compiled the results of seventeen trials that monitored the effects of these exercises on the risks of falls and fall-related injuries. The overall results indicated
These findings are significant. By implementing an exercise program that improves balance, mobility, endurance, muscle strength, and flexibility can make a major different in the risk of falls and related injuries.
According to Howard LeWine, M.D., Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing, the benefits of these multi-component exercise programs include: faster reaction time, improved coordination, stronger muscles, better brain function, and balance.
Better Balance, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, suggests the Single-leg Stance as a good place to start. Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the article for instructions.
One of the best exercises to improve senior mobility, according to DailyCaring.com, is the Sit to Stand Exercise. There isn't any special equipment needed -- just a sturdy chair and, if you want to get more advanced, a flat throw pillow, foam balance pad, and a ball.
The video below demonstrates the Stand to Sit Exercise. As a caregiver, you can supervise and, if there is a concern about stability, use a gait belt and stand next to the senior, holding lightly, but firmly to the belt, while they exercise.
It's never too soon or too late to start working exercise into a daily routine. And the benefits will speak for themselves!