It’s true that there are a number of pretty good ways that seniors can improve their balance and coordination, but I’m going to give you the Top 5 that I feel are crucial, aside from just doing balance exercises. We know that balance is important for seniors because falls tend to be more dangerous as you get older, and it isn’t just as easy as standing up and dusting yourself off. Here are my Top 5 ways that Seniors can improve their balance and coordination.
- Vision – This is the first sense that your body uses to establish balance. Don’t believe me? Try balancing with your eyes closed, and you will soon realize how important your eyes are to stability. The problem with vision as we get older is that it tends to get worse with age, so my advice would be to get your eyes tested regularly.
- Hearing – Typically when you turn your head, you use your ears for balance. After speaking with an audiologist, I discovered that seniors with hearing deficits can improve their balance with regular hearing tests and a hearing aid if they need it.
- Touch- For those that have a condition called ‘neuropathy’, they experience an issue with sensing the ground while moving, which stems from a lack of sensitivity in their lower limbs. Even if you don’t have acute neuropathy, a good way to increase the sensitivity in your lower limbs would be to practice balance exercises with as little on your feet as possible. This might mean doing balance exercises with just socks on, or even barefoot.
- Muscular Strength and Power- Another big reason that seniors struggle with balance is that they gradually lose strength and power in the muscles responsible for keeping them upright. Strength is important, because when muscles like the gluteus medius (butt) aren’t strong, you don’t perform well on exercises like balancing on 1 leg. Power is important because it allows us to recover quickly if we stumble or take a misstep. My advice would be to do resistance exercises to strengthen areas like your hips, quads, gluteus, ankles and core.
- Posture- If you can’t stand straight, your balance will almost certainly be affected. Try to strengthen your back muscles, which play a big role in keeping you in an upright standing position. Try doing strengthening exercises for your back like seated or standing rows, and rear deltoid (shoulder) lifts.