Doctors agree that balance problems are the most common cause of serious injury among the elderly, so it is vital for you to help your elderly family member resolve their balance issues to reduce their risk of falling. Life expectancy in the Middle East is rising faster than ever before, which makes it essential that we care for our loved ones as they reach an advanced age. Here is how you can help the elderly in your life if they are experiencing balance problems.
Reduce potential hazards
According to a recent study of elders in Saudi Arabia, the best way to prevent falls and subsequent injuries is to take precautions around the home, so falls don’t occur. Take a look around your loved one’s home and identify potential trip hazards.
Also, if your elderly family member is using a mobility device such as a cane, walker or rollator, make sure there is a clear path for them to follow. Move small furniture items, anything sticking out, or objects that might not be clearly visible, such as boxes, rugs, or plants to a space that is completely out of their path.
Create a safe environment
Elderly people experiencing balance problems need an environment that makes them feel safe. With a few simple accessories, you can help them improve their balance, or at least give them something to grasp should they lose their footing or begin to feel unsteady on their feet.
While there are many types to choose from, suggestions include placing handrails in the shower and near the toilet. Non-slip mats and shower chairs also provide excellent support for your elderly loved one in their everyday activities.
Identify related issues
As we age, it’s common for everyone to lose other senses, along with their balance. If your family member is suffering from vision problems, make sure you take them to an optometrist. If your house is too dark in problem areas, such as walkways, install additional lights to give them the best chance of maintaining their balance.
Participate in gentle exercises program
Core strength naturally declines as we age, which is one common cause of balance problems. Encourage your loved one to gently exercise and make sure their exercise regime is tailored to your elderly family member’s ability.
Popular activities enjoyed by elders include light dumbbells, stretching, tai chi, yoga, lawn bowls, golf, cycling, or swimming. If group classes are not an option, consider making small hand weights out of used water bottles. This exercise can be done in a seated position and is a great way to gradually build upper strength regardless of your loved one’s physical ability.
Reducing weakness has the added benefit of increased confidence, which will help your elderly family member feel good about being mobile. Even a slight improvement in fitness has a significant impact on the ability to balance, so it is worthwhile investing in this for your family member’s sake.
Consider orthopedic footwear
Supportive shoes are essential for anyone suffering from balance issues. Ensure your elderly family member is wearing new orthopedic shoes with sufficient arch support for full balance support. If you notice any additional problems, consider taking them to a podiatrist for a thorough evaluation.
Invest in better mobility equipment
If your elderly family member is having difficulties with balance, perhaps it is time to talk to them about using mobility equipment, such as a walking stick or a walking frame or a rollator, which will help them get where they need to be and will give them something to grasp when they feel off balance.
Equipment is the best way to ensure support should they lose their balance or fall. If the first piece of equipment doesn’t feel quite right, keep trying new options until you find the solution that works for their needs.
Consult your family doctor
If you’ve made significant changes, but there hasn’t been any improvement, consider talking to your family doctor to see if there are any underlying issues. In rare cases, balance issues can indicate a health problem. Or, it may be a sign they need to switch medication.
Consider hands-on support
With expert elderly care, you’ll begin to see your family member showing increased balance control, eliminating the worry you have that they may fall and injure themselves while they do everyday activities, such as tying their shoes, having a shower, getting up and down out of their chair, moving around the house, or doing tasks such as slicing vegetables.
Support workers can assist on either a full-time basis or only during the times when help is needed the most, such as getting ready for and ending the day. Make sure you choose a support worker experienced in identifying hazards as well as incorporating exercise or balance improving activities and tasks into your elderly loved one’s day.