Stay Strong and Prevent Falls

In just three months, the lives and lifestyle of people around the world, in our country, in your state, have changed dramatically—from initial warnings of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in January to now one in four Americans told to stay home. You’ve lived through wars and economic depression, but you’ve also witnessed peacetime and prosperity. Yet, this disease spread is like none other experienced because of the highly contagious properties of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has exclusive educational material prepared just for older adults, age 65 and older—general guidance for prevention as well as steps to take if you have serious underlying conditions—available here.

In addition to the CDC resources, your Harmony Team is dedicated to providing information that maximizes your independence and function while reducing your fall risk. Appreciating that you’re staying home, it’s important to stay active in your home and to exercise to maintain your muscle tone and strength. Immobility has negative consequences that include but are not limited to muscle weakness and muscle wasting. The evidence confirms that the most effective community-based strategy is exercise to improve leg strength and balance, an approach that can reduce fall risk by an average of 24%.1 

To support your in-home fall prevention program, Harmony Health Solutions has created educational materials and tools to help improve your strength and balance. These resources are available here. Please explore these resources.    

For this month, I’m highlighting two resources that specifically focus on improving your leg strength and balance.

  • Fall Prevention Exercise. Video 5.

In just 3 minutes, 48 seconds, you’ll be verbally and visually guided through six separate animated exercises used by physical therapists. The first five exercises are performed while standing. The sixth exercise is performed by rising up from a chair and sitting back down on the chair.  

Exercise 1: Heel raises  

Exercise 2: Toe raises

Exercise 3: Heel-toe balance stand

Exercise 4: One-leg balance stand

Exercise 5: Heel-toe walk

Exercise 6: Sit to stand

Prior to getting started, I suggest viewing each video completely once or twice so you’re familiar and comfortable with the content. To prepare for and complete these exercises, you’ll need a sturdy chair with a straight back, preferably with arm rests for support and a level seat. You should wear socks and good-fitting, closed-toe, heeled shoes.

Next, get ready to start the video on your desktop computer, iPad, or smartphone, so you can follow the guided instruction. You should pause the video at the end of each exercise so you can complete the recommended repetitions for each exercise. Then, take a break, enjoy a drink of water, and prepare to move to the next exercise. It’s important to take your time and perform the exercises and repetitions as instructed.  

  • Chair Rise Exercise.2  

CDC’s STEADI (STopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries) initiative for fall prevention includes a lower extremity muscle strength and balance exercise instruction document, located here. From this link, you can open and print the step-by-step illustrated exercise instructions. This resource is a document to help you complete Exercise 6 of the above-reviewed Harmony Health Solutions video.    

As shared, for these exercises, it’s best to use a stable chair. If you have trouble getting up and down from a chair without using your hands, you should select a chair with arm rests so you can push up to stand from the chair using the arm rests. To sit down, you’ll reach back and hold on to the chair arm rests once you’ve backed up to the chair and can feel the chair on the back of your legs, and then safely lower yourself to the seat. 

Be sure to follow all the steps of each exercise. If the exercises seem too simple and easy for you, you can increase the number of repetitions of the muscle-strengthening exercises and the amount of time you stand on one leg. These strategies provide a progressive exercise program for you to improve your leg strength and your balance.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Harmony Team. They’re dedicated to your health and wellness, independent function, and fall prevention.

As shared and in summary, exercise is the most effective intervention to reduce your risk of falling, and these are exercises you can complete inside your home and avoid too much inactivity. If you do go outside walking, walk with a family member or friend, maintaining your social distance. The CDC has provided guidance just for you.  

While much uncertainty surrounds us as the coronavirus disease spreads, you know the importance of proper hydration and nutrition, your medications taken as prescribed, and social interaction with your family and friends.  

Stay connected and informed, not isolated or afraid. We’re all in this together, and together we will get through these extraordinary times.

Your Harmony Team is here to help you!    

I hope you’ll take a few minutes and reply to this message. When you share, everyone learns together. 

Thank you for reading this message and, in advance, for sharing it with others.

Stay well,

Pat Quigley

References:

1Stevens, J.A., Sleet, D.A., & Rubenstein, L.Z. (2018). The Influence of Older Adults’ Beliefs and Attitudes on Adopting Fall Prevention Behaviors. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 12(4). 324-330.

2CDC. STEADI Initiative. Chair Rise Exercise. Available: iharmonyhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Chair-Rise-Exercise.pdf

 

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