Greenwich House’s Fall Stop, Move Strong facilitator, Celeste Carlucci talked to Gothamist this week about how the majority of falls older adults face happen at home, a threat that’s of even bigger concern now that seniors are sheltering in place. Celeste explained to us that, “One of the top ten reasons older adults experience falls is impaired strength and balance. Age-related changes in muscle composition and strength coupled with decreased joint flexibility, especially in the lower extremities, can decrease balance and reduce theability to recover from a trip, increasing the likelihood of falls. Poor balance can double the risk for falls.” Celeste founded the Fall Stop, Move Strong program to target developing strength and balance specifically related to helping prevent these falls and reduce their damage, and it’s now being offered over Zoom. Celeste shared the core elements of her program with us as guidance.
Celeste suggests doing each of these simple exercise moves every day to help reduce your risk:
1. “Roll It” Sit in a chair. Circle your ankles one at a time, clockwise then counterclockwise. Imagine a clock, and rotate your ankle so your toes point to each number on the clock, 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on, all the way around. Repeat 10 times each direction for each foot. This helps keep your ankles flexible and strong so you can walk more easily
2. “March It” Hold onto a firm surface for support (e.g.: counter, back of sturdy chair). March in place, left leg, right leg, lifting your knees to hip height. Repeat 20 times. This helps your posture, and keeps your hips strong so you can more easily climb steps. Also good for balance.
3. “Lift It” Hold onto a firm surface for support (e.g.: counter, back of sturdy chair). Stand with feet hip width apart. Lift your heels off the floor to stand on your toes, and hold for 10 counts. Lower your heel to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. This keeps your lower legs and ankles strong so walking is easier. Also good for balance.
4. “Stop It” Hold onto a firm surface for support with one hand (e.g.: counter, back of sturdy chair), and put the other hand on your hip. Lunge forward with one foot, STOP, return to starting position. Repeat with other foot, STOP, return to starting position. Repeat 10 times. This trains your muscles to catch you if you trip.
5. “Balance It” Hold onto a firm surface for support (e.g.: counter, back of sturdy chair). Stand on one foot for 10 seconds or longer. Repeat for the other foot.
Join the Fall Stop, Move Strong class on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. for guided exercise to improve strength and flexibility. Find the Zoom link and other exercise videos that are safe for beginners and seniors in the Online Learning Center here.
For more information on how to practice safe walking and other exercises, take a look at Celeste’s article in Geriatric Medicine.