How to Look After Your Strength and Balance
It is natural to lose some of your strength in old age. You may notice other common symptoms of ageing such as stiff joints and a decrease in stamina. Health conditions such as COPD can cause breathlessness whilst moving. Arthritis can cause pain during movement and Multiple Sclerosis can cause reduced mobility and problems with coordination.
Because of these reasons, you may have to focus on working on improving your balance and stability.
Certain exercises can improve your strength and balance. Exercises that focus on your leg muscles enable you to walk longer without falling. Exercises such as heel-to-toe walking, step-ups and sideways walking are great for improving your balance.
If you are taking medication, it is important to be aware of all the side effects. Some medications can cause dizziness, lack of alertness and drowsiness. If this is the case with your medication it is best to arrange physical activity around the time where the side effects least affect you.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
Wear shoes that improve your balance and reduce foot pain. Shoes with a good grip mean you are less likely to slip over. To avoid foot pain, choose a shoe that fits your feet well and has a comfortable insole.
Walking aids can help you when you experience difficulty moving around. Your GP can recommend a walking aid for you that will suit your needs.
Examples of walking aids include:
- Walking stick
- Rollator walker
- Walking frame
- Forearm walking frame
Using certain equipment around the house can help you move around safely and reduce the chance of injury if you do fall. These include:
- Reacher’s and grabbers – Using a Reacher means you don’t have to stretch or bend over to grab objects, meaning you don’t compromise your stability.
- Non-slip mats and rugs
- Toilet frame
- Bedside fall mat
Home adaptations involve small adaptations to your house to make rooms more accessible for you and reduce the risk of falling around the house. These include:
- Grab rails
- Lift chair
- Widening of doorways – Having wide enough doorways means you can move freely around your house whilst using walking aids such as a walking frame.
- Bed hoist
- Outdoor ramp
Moving Around Safely at Night
Falls can be more likely to happen at night time due to dim lighting and you may be less alert due to tiredness. Having adaptations in place can make it safe for you to move around your house safely at night. These include:
- Bedside lamp that is easy to turn on and off
- If needed have glasses next to your bed
- When walking between your bed and the toilet turn your lights on
- Grab rails to help you in and out of bed
- Walking at a slow and steady pace (don’t rush around)
To reduce the likelihood of needing to get out of bed in the middle of the night, you should avoid drinking and eating at least two hours before bed.
How to Walk With Decreased Stability
Techniques for moving around with decreased stability and balance;
- Use walking aids – Find a walking Aid most appropriate to you. You may just need a walking stick or require a bit more assistance from a walking frame. Walking aids will decrease your risk of falling and make walking more enjoyable for you.
- Take your time – Rushing around will make you more likely to fall, take your time with moving from place to place. This also includes standing up and sitting down.
- Sit down if you feel dizzy – If you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy or weak find somewhere safe to sit or lie down. You may need to relax for a while whilst you get your strength back and let your blood pressure level.
- Use an emergency pendant – Emergency pendants are ideal for anyone who is at higher risk of incidents at home, especially if they live alone. If you have an accident press the button on the pendant and it will automatically dial whoever you set as your emergency contact.