With the concern over falls increasing in the winter months, seniors can take a proactive approach to prevention with balance training and regular exercise. Research published by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine has found promise in the practice of pilates as means of improving balance and reducing falls in older adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three adults over 65 has a fall each year. Approximately 2 million seniors are treated in emergency rooms in the United States for fall-related injuries including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries. The risk of falling increases with age but with exercise, medication management, vision care and home safety, some of the risk can be mitigated.
The fear of falling also contributes to the likelihood of falls. Exercise such as pilates, yoga or Tai Chi, which improve overall fitness, balance and mood, has been found to reduce the occurrence of falls in older adults.
Prevention exercises, in addition to lowering rates of falls among seniors, can also reduce the severity of injury when falls do occur. Cognitive function, which affects the ability to quickly react to an imminent fall risk, is also improved with targeted exercise, according to a 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal. Being able to quickly grab a handrail or other nearby object, can lessen the impact of a fall, resulting in a milder impact on the body.
For an online guide to strength, balance and flexibility exercises you can do at home, visit the National Institute on Aging website at https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/workout-go .