Preventative health care is more than taking vitamins and eating healthy; it’s also about maintaining mobility and muscle tone. As people age, injuries take longer to heal, leading to more severe health complications, so it’s critical to stop injuries before they happen. Good balance is a crucial aspect of preventative health care for older adults. Here’s why balance is essential as we age.
When Do People Start Losing Balance?
The ability to balance begins to weaken around 50 years old for most adults. The decline is slow but noticeable. Even an activity that once seemed easy can start to feel challenging as we age. Balance is a necessary part of physical health, from tying shoelaces to sitting on a stool or climbing a ladder.
Why Do People Lose the Ability to Balance?
Some loss of balance in older age is expected because we don’t have the same muscle mass as in our younger years. Differences in metabolism and hormone levels can impact muscle quality and tone from around age 30, though it’s likely not enough of a change to see in the mirror. Regular physical activity and good nutrition can reduce the rate of muscle loss as we age.
Some medical conditions or events can cause an inability to balance. Having heart disease, diabetes, or thyroid problems can lead to dizzy spells and issues balancing. Some medications have side effects that make it harder to balance as well.
What Are the Dangers of Losing Balance?
Not being able to balance is an issue that should be taken seriously because significant health risks are associated with falling and tripping. One out of four older adults gets injured in a fall every year.
For people 65 years and older, falls usually happen at home while going about daily life. Walking up and down stairs, getting in or out of the shower, and bending to pick something up are common situations that can result in a severe fall when balance is compromised.
What Can Older Adults Do To Improve Balance?
Fortunately, improving balance takes very little time and is pretty straightforward. Regular exercise is the key to staying stable as we age. Physical activity that focuses on the core muscles is vital. Gentle yoga, daily walks, and a 10-minute stretching routine are all great options for improving balance.
If these types of physical activities are not possible, older adults can work on balance at home in as little as five minutes a day. Repeating movements, such as transitioning from standing to sitting and back, is a gentle way to build core strength. Another simple exercise to improve balance is to stand on one foot for seven to ten seconds, switch feet, and then repeat three to four times.
Embracing Independent Living for Older Adults
Being able to keep our balance as we age is one of the ways we can protect our independence. Older adults stay healthy longer when they can maintain their routines and control their daily lives. Independent living communities for older adults offer a holistic balance of community, self-reliance, and care. Schedule a visit to one of our communities today to see what’s possible for your future.