Keep Your Balance

From the CDC:  Falling is the leading cause of injury death for those 65 and older.  One out of three adults over 65 fall every year.  Less than half talk to their doctor about it.  (Some studies use 45 and older)

Head injuries, fractures, lacerations and fear, all resulting from falls, can lead to a loss of independence and mobility restriction.  Some people become so afraid about falling that they severely restrict their activities.  They become more dependent on others and lose some quality of life.

What keeps us vertical?

There are three systems that provide the input that keeps us balanced.  Vision is more than being able to read a chart in your doctor’s office.  Depth perception and tracking objects are also important skills.  It is important to have vision tested for all of these, especially if there have been balance changes.  Vestibular (inner ear) problems can become more frequent as we age.  There are tests and treatments for inner ear issues.  Proprioception involves the information your brain gets from the muscles and joints about what position they are in.  This area is the easiest to work on independently before and after seeking advice from your primary care doctor, ENT and/or physical therapist.  Processing the information in the brain and sending signals back out to the body is the last step.

So what can we do?

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The Floor of Your Core

I do some exercises in the hope that I am never told that I have to do them.  Pelvic floor exercises are at the top of that list.  If you think of your core as a box, the diaphragm is the top, the abdominal and back muscles are the sides and the pelvic floor is the bottom.  If the bottom of the box is weak, it does not matter how strong the sides are, the box cannot hold much.  Having strong pelvic floor muscles is important for men and women.  It can help prevent leaks when you laugh, cough or sneeze.  It can prevent falls.  Imagine how many people across the world will wake up tonight with the urgent need to get to the restroom.  Blurry eyed, stiff and half asleep, they rush through a dark room.  Having a strong pelvic floor can also make time with your mate a little more enjoyable.

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