Preventing Falls by improving your Balance & Stability

While this post is for all ages to know, especially from a long-term preventative point of view, the core of this post is aimed at fixing a problem: that of loss of Balance and Stability especially in the Elderly.

How big is the problem:

While researching for my books, I’ve found plenty of information to indicate that falls among the elderly is a massive problem (one in 3 elders over the age of 65 falls each year, many getting hospitalized as a result).

Combined with osteoporosis, falls can lead to hip fractures. Hip fractures shorten life-expectancy (20% dying within the first year, and 2/3rds never regaining their original functionality/independence).

Loss of balance and stability is due to extensive muscle-loss (Sarcopenia being the medical term).

If you have a feeling that your balance and stability is not quite up to the mark, you will, in all likelihood, need some really quick muscle-building happening for you.

If, on the other hand, you are caring for someone who is losing balance and stability, you have your work cut out for you, mainly because, you need to:

a. convince your charge that they have the power to do something about it – instead of simply throwing their hands up in the air and succumbing to the inevitable ageing process- and,

b. convince your charge that they should exercise, plain and simple, and then, get them started, changing their habits to become persistent enough to obtain some gains in strength.

 

Pauline, I need help, we heard a quavering male voice call out, at one-thirty in the morning. Pauline, I need help.

At first I thought it was some drunk, though, in the quiet suburb we live in, not much of that sort of thing happens. The voice kept on calling out. Pauline, I need help.

Mate, where are you? my wife, Tanya, called out of our first floor bedroom window.

Corner of Rose and Wattle streets, called back the voice.

I dashed over in my pajamas, hoisted myself up to the top of the high wooden gate, and spied him, lying on his side beside the swimming pool, a bag of pool salts spilled next to him.

The ambulance was there within 20 minutes.

In the meantime, we awoke a fast-asleep Pauline, and got the story from Tony:

At around midnight, after playing games on his PC, deciding to salt the pool, Tony carried the bag down a couple of steps, then, as he was leaning over to put the bag down, toppled over, and couldn’t get up.

The paramedics confirmed that Tony had a broken femur.

 

Falls are something we need to be highly concerned about.

Falling, especially for older adults, can cause injuries like hip fractures and head injuries. Often, these fractures can lead to early death, for one of many causes: no one around to assist or hear the calls of the sufferer. For example, Tony could have toppled into the pool, and drowned. Or, if his voice had been ignored by Tanya and myself (as it was by all the other neighbours), he could have become another victim of exposure in the chill early spring night.

Everyday functions and activities require balance, stabilization and coordination and these factors directly affect our independence.

If you or your charge finds balancing is getting increasingly difficult, and there is a possibility of falling over, it’s time to address that problem right now, in fact, like yesterday.

What is Balance:

Balance is the ability to maintain a certain position over time, without moving. Your balance depends on: your centre of gravity and your base support. The lower your centre of gravity, and the larger your base support, the better your balance will be.

Lose balance and you could injure yourself in a fall. And fractures, at any age, are not something we welcome.

The muscles affected:

Your core muscles are small and larger muscles that wrap your body, from your abdominals, around your intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs) and around to your back.

There are other (and larger) muscles in the body that help you with balance: the legs (especially the quads or quadriceps) and the calves.

The solution to regaining your ability to stabilize and balance yourself is twofold:

  1. Taking Action (Exercise): to build your core muscles and your muscle strength.
  2. Improved Nutrition: to support the exercise.

As the muscles mentioned above are large masses of muscle, they have the potential to grow fast, given sufficient stimulus and a suitable supporting diet, thus providing a more solid foundation for you.

These muscles need to be engaged, to build up some degree of mass and then strengthen them.

 

One common tool used to help improve balance is the half-Bosu ball, an exercise ball specially cut in half, such that one side is flat and the other rounded. Stand on the exercise ball, using a strong support, and then try to let go of the support (or lean a little less heavily on the support while balancing on this rocking platform.) The small stabilizer muscles in your body start working to support your body, and over time build themselves up.

However, I believe in working the body as far as it will go, because the kind of stuff I teach challenges your muscles far more than the Bosu-ball exercises will. This kind of challenge results in greater and faster muscle growth and strength: exactly what I want for all my trainees.

 

Some exercises that will enhance your balance and stability:

(Having said that, many of our weaker charges may not be able to perform many of the below exercises due to advanced Sarcopenia, and will have to take these exercises in small doses (low repetitions, from 3 or 4 repetitions per set, and low sets, from 1 to 2 sets per session), beginning with short sessions twice a day. The aim is to build up to 4 sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise outlined below.)

At Home Exercises:

Squats: squatting/sitting into a chair, while holding onto the back of another chair for support and stability. This is a great leg quadriceps -builder. The Quads are the main working muscles for sitting/standing.

Haversack deadlifts for your lower and upper back

The haversack can be filled with bits and pieces from around the house, increasing the weight as the trainee gets stronger. The back and core muscles get challenged by this exercise as well as the legs.

Reverse axe swings work your core muscles, shoulder and upper back:

Pushups:

Start with the incline pushup, where you kneel on something soft, and perform the pushups against a heavy chair or lounge/sofa. This is the easiest of the pushups, but a great way to start building your upper chest strength.

Once you get stronger progress to kneeling flat pushups, and then, to full pushups (the same as the above, but on your toes instead of the knees).

 

Most women tend to find push-ups more than a mite challenging, but build up push-up strength with the above progression, and you will get stronger.

The plank is a great core exercise, and strengthens your back muscles as well as your abdominal and lower chest area, all regions we need to help keep us upright. The aim is to hold this position as long as possible, increasing the length of time you hold every time by a few seconds (build up to 2 minutes).

Now, the above exercises are challenging, to say the least, but it’s important to begin, begin slowly, with a few reps, a few sets per session, keeping them short, but a minimum of twice a day in the beginning (morning/evening) to stimulate your muscles into a speedy recovery.

You may need some support/assistance during the earlier parts of the exercise regime, but you will thank the stars that led you to this blog post later down the track.

Tackling your Nutrition:

My research indicates that, as we get older, our ability to process and metabolize protein diminishes drastically, the stuff that helps us build muscle. Hence, I recommend:

Increasing your protein intake to 2 gms per Kilogram bodyweight per day.

This is quite a high amount of protein to absorb through normal meals, and you may need supplementation in the form of protein powders (check online for bulk and cheaper sources of protein powders. I recommend the concentrate instead of the isolate from a price to utility point of view).

Always have your protein with some form of carbohydrate for better assimilation. Hence, meals like spaghetti bolognaise, whole eggs with wholemeal bread, and yogurt with oats help immensely in putting that muscle mass (and strength) back on.

Increase the number of your meals to 6 instead of 4 and reduce the portion size accordingly.

However, if my experience with elderly people is anything to go by, most older persons tend to eat less than more, so the danger is not in the overeating region.

The increase of meals helps keep the metabolism high, while utilizing the longer time-spread to help promote absorption of nutrients.

While the above solution may be quite commonly known, the most important part of the process is changing one’s mindset: that we each, whatever our age or level of strength, have the ability to take control of our current condition and improve it. We need to take action, consistent action to keep ourselves at the top of our game, and improve our Quality of Life, keeping ourselves strong, fit, healthy and independent.

Hence, the importance of the realization, for all of my readers today, be you a care-giver or yourself the care reciever, to take preventative action, long before sarcopenia hits and osteo raises its ugly head (though both sarcopenation of the muscles and osteoporosis are long processes).

As usual, I recommend talking to your medical expert before performing any of these exercises or changing your nutrition, so that s/he can gauge your individual fitness for the exercises recommended or the nutrition modification.

Wherever I recommend a fix for a problem, I emphasise that we, each of us, can turn our bodies (and more importantly, our selves: our minds and our spirits) from weakening, ageing mortals, to strong, independent, and fun-loving human spirits, free to live our lives as we please, and enjoy the best of it until the very end.

We do this by looking after our nutrition, and by challenging our bodies: firstly, at home, then progress to challenging our bodies more and more in the gym, where there is more resistance available for us, triggering our bodies to grow from every different angle, in every area of our musculature.

Those of the us of the Grey Generations who do not exercise with resistance ( and maybe only walk/stroll now and then, or even regularly), will mostly find that our muscle loss progresses as we age, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but definitely progresses. So at some stage, we may find that our balance and stability is compromised. The only solution to this is prevention: using resistance exercise to trigger our muscles to stay that way, or to get stronger, thus helping our balance and stability.

Our Balance and Stability is a key component of our ability to be independent and free, and if we work to build it up, and maintain it by consistent resistance exercise, as systematized in my books, we will find ourselves looking and feeling years and years, yes, decades younger than our actual age!

As the saying goes: Use it, or lose it.

Update: Here’s the ‘sister’ video on YouTube: Falls in the Elderly: Prevention & Cure

To your health, strength and ever-growing self-esteem.

Mel d’Rego.

Author Bio:

Mel d’Rego is the author of 3 Kindle books, the TurnBackTime/Rejuvenate Yourself series, books that provide a solid system for 40-70 year olds to become Strong, Healthy, Fast, Fitter, and Sexier, setting themselves up for a great Quality of Life during the Grey-Years before them.

(Download your copy of Mel’s Free Book to help you re-vitalize your Greying Years).

Mel lives with his wife and 3 children in Sydney, Australia.

Find Mel d’Rego on Google+

Author: MeldRego

In his blog-posts, Mel d’Rego outlines and drills deep into how we can take control of our ageing, priming our bodies as we age, so that each of us can stay Strong, Fit, Fast & Independent, and, as a result, can better contribute to the greater good, for as long as we wish to, relatively free from the tyranny of time & disease. Mel is the author of 3 Kindle books ( with more in the pipeline), books that provide a solid system for 40-70 year olds to set themselves up for a great Quality of Life during the Grey-Years before them.

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  103. Today, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  104. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the structure of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  105. Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

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  113. Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would enjoy your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e-mail.

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  123. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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  135. Hey this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  136. Great blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely confused .. Any recommendations? Thanks a lot!

  137. Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog post or vice-versa? My site addresses a lot of the same topics as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Great blog by the way!

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  142. Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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  144. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else experiencing problems with your blog. It appears as if some of the text on your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This might be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before. Thank you

  145. I’m really loving the theme/design of your website. Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems? A couple of my blog audience have complained about my site not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Safari. Do you have any advice to help fix this issue?

  146. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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  165. With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any techniques to help stop content from being ripped off? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  166. Heya this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  177. I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  178. Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a tough time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  179. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing problems with your site. It appears as though some of the written text within your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This may be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Many thanks

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  185. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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  187. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to design my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. thanks a lot

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  191. Hi there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

  192. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

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  198. Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any methods to prevent hackers?

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  200. Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog. Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks

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  215. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  216. Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for beginner blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

  217. Hey there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  218. My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on a variety of websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform. I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  219. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

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  228. Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a thirty foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is completely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

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  244. Hey! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Appreciate it

  245. Hello! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

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  247. Superb blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed .. Any ideas? Thanks a lot!

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  261. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  262. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is important and everything. Nevertheless just imagine if you added some great graphics or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this blog could undeniably be one of the best in its niche. Good blog!

  263. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Bless you!

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  265. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the structure of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  266. Hi there! I realize this is kind of off-topic however I needed to ask. Does managing a well-established blog like yours require a lot of work? I’m brand new to blogging however I do write in my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my own experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

  267. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Cheers!

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  271. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  272. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would value your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

  273. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look forward to your new updates.

  274. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Firefox. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the issue solved soon. Cheers

  275. Heya! I realize this is sort of off-topic however I had to ask. Does building a well-established blog like yours require a large amount of work? I’m brand new to running a blog but I do write in my journal on a daily basis. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and thoughts online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

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  278. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

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  281. The other day, while I was at work, my cousin stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a twenty five foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  282. Howdy! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  283. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  284. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz respond as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to find out where u got this from. appreciate it

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  286. Hi there fantastic website! Does running a blog similar to this take a massive amount work? I’ve very little expertise in programming however I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, should you have any suggestions or techniques for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off topic but I simply needed to ask. Thanks!

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  289. I’m not sure exactly why but this website is loading very slow for me. Is anyone else having this problem or is it a issue on my end? I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

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