Mobility and Balance
Keeping mobile and improving balance are particularly important to help prevent falls and injury, as individuals with low mobility levels and impaired balance are at higher fall risk. Maintaining or improving these can also increase overall health and independence.
Assess your level of movement and balance by asking yourself the following questions:
• Do I use or have I been advised to use a cane or walker to get around safely?
• Do I steady myself by holding onto furniture when walking at home?
• Do I need to push with my hands to stand up from a chair or toilet?
• Do I have trouble stepping up onto a curb?
• Do I have weak legs, pain or stiffness in the joints?
• Am I already having falls or near misses?
• Do I become unsteady when I turn around?
• Do I find it difficult to get up from the floor?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions, it is important to discuss these with a health care professional so that you can move about safely and avoid injury.
Here are some tips to help you avoid unnecessary falls or losing your balance:
• When getting up, especially from bed, sit on the edge of the bed for a few moments to allow your body to adapt. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop rapidly, making you dizzy which may put you at a higher risk for a fall.
• Take your time to turn slowly, using several smaller steps, do not turn suddenly.
• Include balance exercises as part of your regular routine. For older people, walking groups, exercise groups, such as Tai Chi, and dancing are recommended. Physiotherapists and can also provide exercise programs and equipment (i.e. walking aids) to improve balance, strength and walking.
• Seek advice from a health professional for the appropriate use of mobility aids to help reduce your risk for a fall. Mobility aids should always be fitted and used correctly. Physiotherapists and occupational therapists can be accessed through health services or privately in some areas.
• Talk to your doctor about referrals to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist, community support services or community programs to provide the necessary therapy with a team approach.