More than a third of those age 65 and over fall each year. At age 80, that number goes up to about half. Seventy percent of all accidental deaths of those 75 and older are the result of injuries from falls, and most of those occur in the home environment.
Falls can cause both physical injury and psychological distress from fear of falling, and fear of falling can result in decreased activity, which can result in weakness, which in turn can lead to a higher likelihood of falling.
Other factors that contribute to falling besides age and fear are certain diseases or disabilities, insomnia, some medications, and environmental hazards. So what is one thing that can be done to cut down on the risk? Exercise!
What kind of exercises work best? Obviously, there needs to be some discussion with a doctor, and the exercise program needs to be tailored to an individual’s particular needs.
That being said, the types of exercises that seem to work best to prevent falls are strength training, balance training, and endurance building.
- Strength training using bands or light weights can strengthen muscles and reduce chances of falling and breaking bones.
- Dynamic balance training, which is slow-movement training such as stretching, yoga or Tai Chi, can improve posture and flexibility, which increases mobility and helps to prevent falls.
- Keeping a regular exercise schedule builds endurance and also increases mobility.
What are the other benefits of exercise for elder adults? In addition to the improvement in physical health and activity and the reduction of risk for falling, exercise also lessens depression, improves sleep, improves circulation, and can be a fun, social activity. So it not only helps with falls, it improves one’s overall quality of life!