Age and Balance Problems, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PRESERVE YOUR BALANCE
Try this: (STAY SAFE - have someone there to catch you)
- Stand on 1 leg with your eyes open. How long can you do this for each leg?
- Now stand on 1 leg with your eyes closed. How long can you do this for each leg?
- Compare yourself to the table below.
One-Leg Balance Test (Bohannon 1984) shows the time a person can balance with their eyes open and closed:
Age 20 – 59 eyes open = 29.5 secs eyes closed = 21-28 secs
Age 60 – 69 eyes open = 22.5 secs eyes closed = 10 secs
Age 70 – 79 eyes open = 14.2 secs eyes closed = 4.3 secs
With older age our balance reduces.
Importantly, with your eyes closed, balance drops dramatically because our ability to sense our body position (without visual input) has eroded largely because of disuse.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO ENSURE BETTER BALANCE AS AN OLDER PERSON?
1. Use your proprioception pathways regularly by performing balance exercises with your
a. eyes open and
b. eyes closed
Simply practicing the One-Legged Balance Test above will improve your eyes open and eyes closed balance (be sure to do both sides).
2. The (pictured) woman on the coloured blocks of foam is heel toe walking on an unstable surface
a. Try heel toe walking on the floor with your eyes open -this is good for your balance
b. Try heel toe walking on a spongy floor with your eyes open – the instability is good for your balance
c. Try heel toe walking on the floor with your eyes closed – this can be quite challenging and is very good for your propioception
Do balance exercises often – several times a week for a safer older age.