Falling is a real concern for many seniors, including those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The number of hospitalizations related to falls in the senior population is astronomically high. Statistics show that many of these accidents can even be fatal.
Keep in mind that balance is a skill, and like any other skill, it requires practice to maintain. This is why helping those with AD to improve their balancing skills is a must. One of the most effective ways to improve balance is to strengthen the leg muscles. As seniors age, they may use their lower extremities less often, resulting in weakening of the leg muscles. This usually occurs gradually over a long period of time.
A regular exercise program is important to keep seniors in top physical condition. Strengthening exercises focus on the legs because leg muscles control the feet when walking or standing and are vital to maintaining proper balance. If you are a caregiver for someone with AD be sure to consult with your loved one’s physician before encouraging any type of exercise program.
According to Mayo Clinic, exercise is important to strengthen bones and improve balance. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, help you maintain peak bone density. Exercise also increases overall strength, making a person less likely to fall. Balance training is important to reducing the risk of falls in seniors because balance tends to deteriorate with age.
There are several exercises to help strengthen legs and improve balance. CLICK HERE to view demonstrations of several different exercises on Elder Gym.com
Specific exercises to improve balance
Eye Tracking: CLICK HERE
Calf Raise: CLICK HERE
Straight leg Raise-CLICK HERE
Single Limb Stance-CLICK HERE
These exercises, when performed regularly, will help to build overall balance skills and strengthen the leg muscles. Remember that consistency is the key, but ALWAYS consult with your physician before starting any type of exercise routine.
Keep in mind that there are several other factors (other than muscle strength) involved in proper balance such as; internal spatial orientation, the semicircular canal of the inner ear, and visual cues. Some medications have a side effect of dizziness which can also adversely affect balance. Substances, such as alcohol and drugs, can cause the balance to be off center as well.
Be sure to talk to the attending physician if you or the person with AD has a problem with dizziness or balance. If frequent falls have been occurring, the physician will do a falls assessment to determine and treat the underlying cause/s.
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