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​​The Balancing Act: Why Balance is Critical as You Age

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

There are many ways we can live healthier lives as we age. In my blog post, 5 Ways to Defy the Aging Process, I cover different tips on how to live longer and stronger. One key yet unexpected focus is on better balance. Below are expanded tips on improving our balance as we age.

Being Balance Aware

There are five common balance issues that are most likely to impact us as we get older.

  • Intense vertigo when moving the head, is a symptom of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). It is caused by an inner ear disturbance like a head injury, ear infection, and aging. Another common cause of imbalance is Ménière's Disease, where sufferers experience vertigo, ringing in the ears, and sporadic hearing loss.

  • Labyrinthitis is when the inner ear becomes infected and inflamed. It is often linked to a case of the flu and can result in balance problems.

  • Several chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, and heart conditions can all contribute to unsteadiness.

  • Finally, older adults may be more prone to shingles, and in some cases, the shingles virus can affect facial nerves near the ear, causing what is known as Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, impacting balance.

The National Institutes of Health explains that imbalance symptoms are different for each individual but there are steps that can benefit almost everyone when it comes to improving balance.

Steps Toward Better Balance

One method is a consistent exercise routine. Simple balance exercises that can be completed in even tiny spaces can improve balance. These exercises can build strength and improve posture, stability, and coordination:

  • Standing March in place slowly for 20-30 seconds

  • Standing 3-Way Kicks

  • Sidestepping

  • 1-Leg Stand

  • Sit to Stand and Stand to Sit

  • Heel-to-Toe Standing or Walking

Stretching such as yoga or Tai chi can also improve balance. Whether taking an in-person class or watching online videos, low-impact movement can enhance balance.

Along with exercise and stretching, eating healthy foods can strengthen balance and fuel the body. Nutrients found in certain foods can also improve overall health and well-being and improve activity and energy levels. Lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods are optimal in addition to staying hydrated. Maintaining a healthy weight can also go a long way toward improving balance.

In my book titled, 30 Summers More, I include “lessons of longevity” that I have amassed from a front-line view as the CEO of Áegis Living, which has cared for more than 60K elderly. Combined with the latest health and wellness research on living well as we age, I outline the “micro-habits” necessary for living our best lives as we move into our senior years – including how to keep balanced.

Until next time, Live Well, Live Long

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