Maintain Your Balance and Dexterity as You Age

Posted by: St. Clare Commons - Monday, January 28, 2019

Have you or your loved one been tripping?  Are you or your loved one using furniture to walk around the house? Do you or your loved one genuinely act fatigued by getting up and walking around? Have you or a loved one developed a fear of falling?

According to Whitney Woodward, MOTR/L, Therapy Program Manager at St. Clare Commons, a Perrysburg senior living community, this is common as we age. Woodward has some advice to share on how to age in place while maintaining your balance and flexibility. 

First and most important, according to Woodward, “Never do a balance program by yourself.  You should always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program and have a family member present when beginning any new exercise program.”

By age 65, Woodward recommends adding strength, balance and endurance training to one’s daily routine.  “Light exercise for the arms and legs with light weights, or even without weights is good,” she said. As we continue to age, she suggests adjusting the routine to fit the individual.

“Chair Yoga and Chair Tai Chi are great for the whole body and emphasize strengthening the core and breathing as well,” said Woodward.

As you age, you should modifying exercises from standing to sitting and/or laying down.  She also believes if someone is having balance difficulties to learn what is contributing to the problem.  Is your center of gravity off? Could medication can be affecting balance?  Even eyesight can be a factor.  She advises meeting with a physical therapist to help determine what factors could be impacting balance and then have a personalized program developed for you.

“Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about your balance concerns or apprehensions. Your doctor can write up orders for you to utilize physical therapy to strengthen your balance.  You need to take preventive action before something happens,” said Woodward.  

Medicare or insurance often covers inpatient and outpatient physical therapy. “We always encourage people to talk to our business office at St. Clare Commons to check their insurance coverage.”

St. Clare Commons Therapy Department supports their assisted living and skilled residents, but also works with the general community on an outpatient level. “We work with each person on their own individual program to do what is best for them on their balance training and posture.  We tailor a program specific to them and their medical conditions,” said Woodward.

According to Woodward, you will absolutely see the difference after doing a balance and strength training program.  You will feel stronger, feel more flexible, be able to tolerate activities longer and feel more confident with your balance.  The St. Clare Commons Therapy Department can adjust your routine to help your balance and flexibility grow as you progress. 

Balance and Flexibility Exercises

The following are simple exercises that can improve your balance and flexibility. Always get permission from your physician before starting an exercise program and have a family member present when beginning a new exercise program.

SIT TO STANDS

  • Stand tall with your back facing a sturdy chair and your feet hip-width apart.
  • If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.
  • From here, sit back and slowly lower your hips onto the chair as gently as possible.
  • Pause, and without swinging your torso, push through your heels to stand up. 
  • Repeat 10 times.

STANDING MARCHES

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • If needed, hold onto the wall or a sturdy piece of furniture for balance. As you get stronger, perform the move without holding onto anything.
  • From here, lift one knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor (or as close to parallel as you can go) while keep your torso straight and avoiding any leaning.
  • Pause, then slowly return your foot to the floor. 
  • Perform 20 marches, alternating between legs with each march.

BACK LEG RAISES

  • Stand behind a sturdy chair, grip for balance.
  • Slowly breathe in
  • Breathe out while slowly lifting one leg directly back without bending your knee or pointing your toes. You should not lean forward with the leg you’re standing on slightly bent
  • Hold this stance and count to one
  • Breathe in while slowly lowering your leg
  • Repeat this 10 times
  • Repeat this 10 times with the alternate leg

SIDE LEG RAISES

  • Take position behind a sturdy chair, feet slightly apart, gripping chair for balance.
  • Slowly breathe in
  • Breathe out while slowly lifting one leg out to the side. Your back should be straight, and your toes pointing forward. Slightly bend the leg you are standing on
  • Remain in this position and count to one
  • Inhale while you slowly lower your leg
  • Repeat these steps 10 times
  • Repeat these steps 10 with the alternate leg