Did you know that 7 out of 10 seniors have stability issues and actually fear they will lose their balance and accidentally fall? There are so many people searching online each month on how to improve stability for themselves, especially as they are getting older that I decided to touch on this subject on this website.
Let’s look at some of these stability issues here and how to deal with them.
To some people, the fear of falling may seem trivial. Yet to the 65+ age group, this can be a highly stressful thing.
Studies show that people who fall during their senior years are much more prone to injury, broken bones and sometimes even death.
Am I Susceptible to Falling?
This is an excellent question. It shows that you’re proactive and interested in your well-being. Many people automatically resign themselves to their problems and blame it on aging. The first step in prevention is in being aware of your situation.
There are a few questions you will need to ask yourself before you can ascertain if you might fall. Of course, even if the answers indicate that you won’t, you may still fall. Life can be unpredictable and anything is possible.
Have you been physically active for most of your life?
If you have been exercising daily or frequently all throughout your life, your body will be stronger and more coordinated than someone who has led a sedentary life all the way into their senior years and your chances of falling and injuring. yourself will be lower.
Are you still exercising now?
Some people exercise for most of their life but taper things down and stop as they get older. They either lose interest and motivation or they just give up.
You must carry on exercising and tailor your workouts to suit your lifestyle. Generally, your training should be lower impact and at a slower pace as you get older. There is no shame in slowing down. It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.
If you’re still getting regular exercise, your chances of falling are a lot lower.
What type of exercise do you do?
The type of exercise you do will also determine your chances of falling and make a big difference in how to improve stability. Not all exercise is created equal. If all you do is a slow walk for 30 minutes every morning your chances of falling will be higher than someone who does Pilates or weight training regularly.
Because with Pilates and weight training, the core muscles and other important muscles are worked. The stronger your muscles are, the more optimally the body functions as a whole.
Stronger legs mean that you’re more capable of walking, running, climbing stairs, etc. You may have noticed that many seniors have problems going downstairs. It’s often more difficult than climbing stairs.
The reason for this is that there are flexors and extensors in the legs. Flexors are used when climbing stairs and are generally stronger. Extensors are weaker and recruited into action when descending stairs.
If you have worked the extensors during strength training with lunges, Bulgarian split squats, etc. your legs will be stronger and you will be less prone to falling.
If you were a dancer, gymnast, martial artist, etc. in your younger years, the body would have developed an innate sense of balance, that never really goes away. Your chances of falling will be much lower.
There is no denying that what you do when you’re young directly impacts your condition when you’re older. Aikido is a Japanese martial art and its masters are usually well into their sixties.
They have been practising the art for years and their bodies move gracefully and have developed the reflexes and ‘flow’ that can only come from a lifetime of training.
This is proof that you can retain your mobility, balance, and strength even as you age.
If you consume alcoholic beverages, your chances of falling will be much higher. This is true whether you are young or old.
Your reflexes slow down, you get sleepy, disoriented and lightheaded. This will do nothing when it comes to how to improve stability.
Use extreme caution if you’re drinking… and always drink in moderation.
How To Improve Stability
Many older people wonder if it’s possible to improve their balance and stability while also getting stronger so that they’ll be more stable. Should they accidentally trip or slip, their bodies would be more resilient and they will be able to handle the impact?
The hard truth is that people do not become physically unstable or unbalanced as they age. Of course, there is no denying that a certain degree of strength and mobility is lost as we age, but don’t just accept this as the norm, because there are many way one can look at on how to improve stability.
The main reason people become frail and weak is due to a lack of exercise. This may seem unpalatable because it highlights one’s neglects and failings, but the truth is a bitter pill to swallow.
You may have noticed that some people in your neighborhood, who are in their 60s, have trouble walking and getting around. Yet, if you look at Sylvester Stallone, he is still muscular and in excellent shape. Not only is he in great shape, but he is still directing movies and acting, even though he is well into his sixties.
Dan Inosanto is 79 years old and he is still fit and active. He used to train Bruce Lee and many other martial artists. The martial arts are one of the best forms of exercise, as they provide a good overall workout without too much strain on the joints.
What about Arnold Schwarzenegger? He doesn’t lack coordination or balance, and the muscles in his arms are larger than most men half his age.
Irish dancer, Michael Flatley, is 57 and still dancing. The former model, Christie Brinkley, is sixty and she is as elegant and fit as ever.
What is the underlying reason here? Why are these people healthy and well-coordinated while you or others you may know are sickly, unfit or unable to move without assistance?
The answer is – the life choices that were made in the past.
Many people sacrifice their health in pursuit of their career. They are so busy making a living that they neglect to make a life. The excuse that they do not have time to exercise, and this in time causes their fitness levels and health to slide downhill.
If you are not regularly active, you will get muscular atrophy over time. Your flexibility will decrease. Your core strength will diminish. As time progresses, you will be less limber and more rigid.
This is exactly how people age poorly. It’s a process that has snowballed over time.
Only with regular exercise and a healthy diet can you have a body that is fit and has the ability to almost reverse aging.
Because you need balance, flexibility, strength, and stamina to excel at it. All the punching, kicking and movements will help the body to retain its natural vitality and vigor.
If you have neglected your health for years and life seems to be laborious now because you can’t get around without assistance, do not feel dejected.
You can still remedy the situation. You can restore the strength, balance, and stamina that you have lost. It is never too late to become what you might have been. Your body will help you, if yo, in turn, help it.
So, Why We Fall?
Before even looking at how to prevent falling, you will need to understand why older people are more prone to falling. This is one of the first things to know about when it comes to knowing how to improve stability.
There are several possible reasons why a person may fall. Here are a few of them.
Yes… we have to admit that things generally slow down as we age. One important thing that slows down is our reflexes. When you’re young, your responses are much faster and swifter.
If you trip, you instinctively reach out to grab something to stabilize yourself. If you slip on a slippery surface, your feet may make a few quick backward steps to compensate and regain your balance.
When you’re old, before your instincts and reflexes can kick in, you’re already on the ground.
Your reaction time will be much slower when you’re old, unfortunately. Regular exercise and sports can help to improve your reflexes.
Vision problems are another often neglected issue. Many accidents have taken place on the road involving seniors who are pedestrians. They’re often unable to see the traffic lights or the oncoming traffic clearly.
In the home, they may not be able to see objects in their way and may trip over them. Using spectacles may help but if the glasses are bifocal, there may be depth perception issues that could pose possible problems.
In cases like these, it’s best to keep the surroundings at home clear, easily navigable and well-lit. Most falling incidents happen at home.
Loss Of Traction Or Footing
The ground could be slippery leading to a loss of traction. This often happens in bathrooms where the floor is slippery.
This can easily be solved by placing an anti-slip mat on the floor of the bathroom. In fact, it is highly recommended that all seniors place these mats in their toilets or bathrooms.
Even with a strong core and good stamina, if the floor is slippery, there is really nothing much you can do to prevent a fall. How to improve stability also calls for practical aids sometimes, as prevention is better than cure.
Another reason for falling is tripping. People have tripped over carpets, children’s toys, shoes, table legs, stools, etc. Always keep your home tidy and organized. Make sure your carpets do not get in your way when walking.
If you have grandchildren, get them to store their toys away after play.
If you use the staircase at home, always have one hand on the handrail and always be careful.
Prevention is better than cure. Being mindful of where you are going and what you are doing is the first line of defence against falling and on how to improve stability.
Muscle Atrophy And Strength Loss
As a person ages, there is a change in the body’s composition.
People are more prone to weight gain and muscle mass decreases. In fact, men lose 1% of muscle every year from the age of 30.
This is why regular exercise is so crucial. It cannot be overemphasized. Only regular exercise, especially weight-bearing ones, can retard muscle loss. In fact, it can even cause muscle gain.
Strong leg muscles and a strong core will prevent people from falling.
Imagine a tree… your legs are like the roots and your abdomen(core) is like the trunk. If these are strong, the tree won’t fall just like you won’t fall.
That’s really all it is in a nutshell. The answer to how to improve stability is that exercise throughout your lifespan is not only key but essential.