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Strength & Balance: November 13, 2011

You’d never guess Helen Thompson was 83 years old.

“I’ve always been athletic I mean as a child and growing up and very active in sports. So when I got holder I felt as though it would be necessary to keep this up.”

A few years back she experienced minor balance problems.

“It was caused by my blood pressure. My blood pressure had gone too high, and that caused the dizziness,” says Helen.

As people age, they become more vulnerable to falls. One out of three over the age of 65 will fall each year. About 45% of them will sustain a serious injury.

“One thing we encourage here is to keep people moving,” says Brandie Redman, a physical therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Brandie helps the balanced-challenged stay on their feet.

“I cannot express how much to continually move is. Getting people out and walking, actually going outside and walking and moving. Yoga, tai chi, any of those activities that focus on balance will also help you with your strength and your balances so that you can decrease your fall risk.”

To assess your fall risk, Lee Memorial Health System offers monthly balance clinics. Helen jumped at the opportunity.

“A few weeks and I was fine. I knew I could go back to everything in fact I did almost immediately.”

Others may have extensive health issues that affect their balance and coordination. Including osteoporosis, arthritis, even Alzheimer’s. Therapy can also give them a leg up.

“We do a lot of work of having you stand on and even surfaces that move. We do stuff with eyes, your eyes open, your eyes closed. We have you work on standing on one leg at a time. Because that's essentially what walking is. You have to be able to pick up one foot and move it where you want it,” says Brandie.

Geriatric studies show working on your strength can greatly help your overall balance and keep you from falling victim of an unfortunate accident.

“I’ve talked to many people that have fallen and I have not fallen and had any problems like that so definitely the exercises help,” says Helen.