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Senior to Senior: Balance

Balance is defined as the ability of your body to maintain equilibrium when standing, walking, or performing activities of daily living. Let’s face it. Most of us have had some near falls when pulling on slacks, walking on uneven ground, or reaching for something on a shelf. Balance isn’t addressed nearly as often as strength training, aerobics, and stretching routines, but it is a real concern for seniors everywhere. Seriously, the sense of balance begins degrading in your twenties and goes downhill after that, and that is a very long downhill journey. We need balance every time we take a step. It’s what keeps us on our feet when walking and keeps us from wobbling when standing still. The process is quite complex, involving brain messages and multiple senses. Quite astounding, isn’t? Aging happens. Changes in vision, core strength, flexibility, and intricate changes in the ear canals all affect the way information is relayed to the brain. Poor balance is the reason that incidents of falls become more common as we age. The good news is that experts tell us that there are some things we can do to preserve and even restore the sense of balance. Yes, the dreaded “exercise” word comes into play again, but this time it isn’t about six-pack abs or training for a marathon. You will be pleased to know that balance exercises aren’t rocket science. The ones that come to mind involve standing on one foot while brushing your teeth or talking on the phone, and practicing walking heel-to-toe, with one foot directly in front of the other. If that isn’t challenging enough you can buy or check out senior exercise videos from the library. All of them include a segment on balance, it is that important. If you crave company, find a class at the YMCA or Senior Center near your home. Talk to your doctor. Conquer your fears. You can opt to use a cane, walking sticks or a walker, but if you can put that off a little longer, isn’t it worth the effort?