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Testing an Elderly Loved One’s Balance

By Melissa Hill, 8:21 pm on

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one out of every three people over the age of 65 suffers a fall each year, making falls the leading cause of injury among older adults. If you provide care for an aging parent or loved one or are concerned about the safety of a loved one who lives alone, it’s important to provide them with the assistance they need to stay safe and independent at home. While clearing clutter and removing trip hazards are great ways to start, your loved one’s physical health, specifically their ability to balance, plays a crucial role in his or her ability to avoid falls.

Although most physicians don’t include balance screens in regular medical checkups, in 2012, the CDC developed a balance testing guide for doctors, which includes a simple test that you can use to assess your elderly loved one’s static balance. Today, Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma is going to share some information about the CDC Balance Test and what seniors can do if the test shows their balance is not as strong as it should be.

The CDC Balance Test

A stopwatch is all you’ll need to test your loved one’s sense of balance. The test consists of asking your family member to stand in four progressively more challenging positions and hold the pose for 10 seconds. Be sure to stand near to your family member when administering the test to provide help if he or she loses her balance. If your loved one can’t hold any position without needing support, stop the test. The four positions are:

  • Standing with the feet side by side
  • Standing so the instep of one foot is touching the big toe on the other foot
  • Standing with one foot placed in front of the other, heel to toe
  • Standing on one foot

Easy Balance Exercises

If your loved one struggles with some of the above exercises, there are fortunately many simple ways to increase and strengthen overall balance. After taking proper safety precautions, balance exercises can be performed almost anywhere as often as your loved one likes. Standing next to a chair for support, your elderly family member can practice standing on one leg and holding the position for 10 seconds. The exercise can be repeated with the leg lifted to the back or side.

Walking heel to toe across the room will improve balance as well. Pausing between each step with one leg lifted when walking is another helpful exercise. Just make sure that your loved one has someone who can offer assistance if needed. If you are unable to provide assistance or monitor balance exercises, consider help from a professional and trained, in-home Oklahoma caregiver who can encourage daily activity and help with a variety of other household tasks.

To learn more about senior fitness or health, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma today. Our mission is to help seniors enjoy the comfort of home safely and comfortably, well into their golden years. For more information about our care services, please contact a Care Manager today at 405-285-4191.