“‘No time for exercise,’ will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
Poor balance is a problem.
Dizziness, imbalance, and weakness can all lead to falls. And falls can lead to…
- Loss of independence
- A steady decline in health
Seniors who live with the daily fear that they may lose their balance often walk less and become more sedentary. The problem can compound daily. It becomes an issue for the individual, a strain on staff, and a drain on administrative resources.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
A 2013 meta-analysis was undertaken to examine the results of 17 different trials involving the results of exercise programs for seniors. These programs were aimed specifically on balance, and some on general exercise regimes.
The analysis found that all of the trials, not just some, or even most, came to the same conclusions…
Falls and injuries are reduced when seniors are in exercise programs.
To be more specific…
- The number of injuries caused by falls was reduced by 37%
- Serious injuries were decreased by 43%
- Broken bones were slashed down an impressive 61%
What this means
Investment in fitness within senior living communities, especially in balance training, increases quality of life and reduces overall costs. This includes medical costs, rehabilitation costs, as well as staff hours.
When you have a number like 61% less fractures and broken bones, this means more time spent on improving health and wellness, supporting independence, and motivating residents to reach their maximum potentials. Senior centers can become wellness centers, and emerge as the place people want to be as they age. They become an environment specifically tailored to progressive health, rehabilitation, strength, and vitality of older adults. After all, Strength is Ageless…
Taking a look at balance
When a child falls, they just shake it off, jump up, and keep playing. When an older adult falls, especially one with osteoporosis, muscle mass loss, and/or weakness, this simply isn’t the case. Just one fall, let alone many, can mean serious physical consequences. It can easily mean the loss of mobility, a broken hip, the devastation of self-confidence, and a new fear of falling.
When seniors begin to strength train and specifically work on their balance, common and painful issues, begin to shift—so says the research.
There are notable improvements in…
- Reaction time
- Muscle mass
- Bone strength
- Brain function
So it works—now what?
There are 2 stability tests that help identify an individual’s balance baseline. Knowing where one is beginning, is key to help them get to where they want to go.
- The Romberg test
This test has been used for over 150 years. It isn’t that it’s old, it’s that it’s good. It’s an effective tool used for two main aspects of balance and stability. First, it’s used to diagnose sensory ataxia. (Ataxia being a gait problem that’s brought on by abnormal proprioception which involves information about the location of the joints). Second, it can be used to measure the amount of disequilibrium caused by central and peripheral vertigo, as well as head trauma.
- The Limits of Stability test (LoS)
Rather than disequilibrium, this test looks at a different aspect of balance. It measures the maximum excursion a person is able to cover without losing their balance, or taking a step. There is a normal “sway angle,” in the front-to-back and side-to-side directions. A person should be able to sway to a certain degree from a stable point, up to a certain degree, without needing to step. The limits of this stability change depending on which task is being undertaken.
The LoS test gives useful information about what voluntary motor control a person has while in the dynamic state. It measures what postural instability there may be, while screening for a person’s risk of falling if they shift their body in any given direction.
Where to go from here
Once you know where a person is starting from, you know where they need to go. Strengthening core muscles as well as those of the lower limbs, reduces sarcopenia, improves strength, overall fitness, confidence, and ability to move around more freely.
Motivate with the right tools
It’s true…most individuals have the power and capacity to get up and get moving, make their body and their lives better. It’s also true that can be pretty darn hard to do on one’s own.
Motivation can be a challenge. Often, older adults find it intimidating even to get to a gym, let alone work out in one. If they manage to get that far, then they are usually forced to work out on machines that don’t cater to the senior body. They may already struggle with a loss of mobility, use a cane or a wheelchair, or not be able to start with the typical loading weights. It’s easy to get discouraged.
This is a mindset. When senior living communities have specialized equipment that focus on senior specific skills, inspiration instead of resignation becomes the mindset. The equipment needs to be approachable, safe for all levels of fitness, ideal for rehabilitation as well as training, and fun to use.
Specific attention on balance and stability, beyond general fitness and strength, is what makes fitness regimes result in the kind of reductive numbers mentioned above. Unfortunately, only very few companies specialize in equipment like this. HUR is proud to be a world-leading example.
New in the world of fitness
This machine deserves some special recognition. It’s new in the world of fitness, proprietary and designed by HUR specialists. They knew that balance and stability were some of the biggest problems for older adults and set out to solve them. This machine might just be the answer. Or at the very least, it may be one of the best tools ever designed to help.
The iBalance is a specialized platform created for all levels of fitness and mobility, including those using a wheelchair, to reduce an individual’s risk of falling.
- Both evaluation methods
It uses both the Romberg and LoS testing for evaluation, then generates a balance score based on the results.
- Individualized training
It customizes a training program for each individual user. The program progressively advances and adapts to the users experience when engaged in the program, to prevent plateaus and generate continual interest.
- Completely trackable and shareable results
There are various reports available that the person can compare to previous results to see improvements. These reports can easily be shared with any specialists involved in that person’s rehabilitation or exercise program. Physicians, therapists, or other care providers can all work together to achieve success.
There’s never been anything like this. For the health and stability of seniors, the iBalance is the greatest invention since the walking stick—except they don’t need the stick.
With the help of customized exercise programs and the revolutionary iBalance, older adults can build up their own stability, improve their strength, eliminate their fears, and redefine their age, rather than let it define them. This is the New Age of Balance.