“I feel nervous.” I’ve heard this phrase many times from my clients who have difficulty walking.
A fear of falling can lead to decreased activity, which in turn leads to a host of other difficulties. The fear is justified. Falls account for 85 percent of injuries in adults over 65. And as happens all too often, one bad fall can cause a broken hip, a long bed rest, risk of pneumonia, and even death.
Seniors can struggle with balance issues for years without knowing a remedy. The solution to cure dizziness and remedy gait deficiencies often lies in the vestibular system of the inner ear. Small canals containing fluid send signals to the brain about our head position, allowing us to focus on a single point, maneuver around objects, and maintain our balance. When the system malfunctions, you can guess what happens. It’s a little like driving a car at night without any lines painted on the road. That would make you nervous too.
Fortunately, the problem can be corrected.
Cure Dizziness: Exercise 1
One exercise to cure dizziness involves walking and turning the head 30 degrees from side to side. This exercise should be done with supervision for seniors at risk of falling.
A simpler exercise involves standing in front of a wall and holding a chair for support. Begin rocking from heel to toe and swaying side to side. It’s a simple but effective technique that should be performed numerous times per day (and can be done while watching television or conversing).
Finally, a tandem walk can also help cure dizziness and restore vestibular balance. It involves placing one foot in front of the other so the heel touches the toe and walking in a straight line. Vision can override the vestibular system, so a natural progression would include crossing the arms over the chest and closing the eyes. This again should be done with supervision.
Consistency is key. Research shows about 60 hours of targeted exercise can result in significant changes. The ounce of prevention will pay dividends for the confidence and quality of life of a senior.