If you or a family member is a senior citizen, you know that all too often a fall can result in a serious injury and further complications. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that falls are responsible for 700,000 hospital admissions each year for older patients. More than 35% of these are hip fractures.
Aging can bring balance problems as well as certain medical conditions such as neuropathy or numbness in the feet, inner ear problems, arthritis, heart or circulation problems and vision issues. Nervous system diseases that bring deterioration over time like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis can negatively affect your balance.
Whatever the cause of a degree of imbalance, there are things you can do to put the brakes on a balance problem. One of the easiest preventions is to wear the right footwear.
Well-Fitting Sturdy Shoes Help with Balance
Never skimp on your shoes! Check out the shoes in your closet by applying the 1-2-3 test:
- Bend the shoe to check that it is flexible in the toe area – but not too much.
- Look for stiffness when you press the sides of the heel.
- Hold the toe and heel and twist the shoe – it should give but not twist too much.
Shop wisely for new shoes:
- Try on shoes late in the day when the feet are at their largest. Ask a professional to measure each foot and buy for the larger size.
- Bring your orthotics and a pair of your own socks for trying on shoes.
- Take your time to walk around the store to check for comfort, stability and non-slippage. No breaking in period should be required.
Read more in this related blog about footwear for patients with neuropathy.
Strength and Balance Exercises
With your doctor’s permission, take a tai chi course to alleviate stress as well as work on your balance. Try these:
- Looking directly ahead of you, take small steps by walking in a straight line with the heels directly in front of the toes. Repeat for 20 steps.
- Hold onto a chair and stand on one foot for 10 seconds, then lower foot. Repeat 15 times then try it with the other foot.
- Again, look at a spot ahead of you. Stretch your arms out to the side and walk toward the spot. With each step, lift your back leg and pause briefly. Repeat 15 times and alternate legs.
The National Institute of Health Senior Health website is an excellent source of balance tips.
Good Health Care Also Means Improving Your Balance
Please come see us at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle if you have any questions on balance or foot stability. Dr. Lawrence J. Kales, board certified podiatrist can examine your feet and your gait and recommend the best shoes for your needs. You can request an appointment via the website or call us at our Hudson office at 727-868-2128 or our Spring Hill office at 352-683-5799. Put balance back into your life for comfort and stability.