Can you pass the balance test?

Fall risk word cloud

Falls in seniors: how well you can balance is a factor

We all know that falls in senior adults are serious, and the statistics prove that. Falls are a major cause of emergency room visits for people over 65; more than 2.5 million injuries are treated in emergency rooms each year. Every 20 minutes a senior dies from a fall-related injury. One third of adults over 65 have a fall each year.

So are you at risk of falling?

A simple balance test can help you know if you’re at risk for falling.

Start by standing up straight, with arms crossed. Without using a chair or any other support, lift up one leg and hold it with your knee bent. Don’t touch the other leg or uncross your arms. Start a timer. If your raised leg touches anything, such as the floor or your other leg, stop the timer. If you uncross your arms, stop the timer.

  • If you’re in your 60s, you should be able to hold your balance for 27 seconds.*
  • If you’re in your 70s, you should be able to hold your balance for 17.2 seconds.
  • In your 80s, 8.5 seconds is the magic number.

If you’re in your 40s or 50s and can’t hold your balance for at least 27 seconds—or if you’re not able to hold your balance in your age group—you may have a medical issue that’s affecting your balance, such as low blood pressure or medications; talk to your health care professional about it. You can also do exercises that will help you regain your balance, such as tai chi and lower body strength exercises.

*Source: Community and Health Foundation of Western and Central New York

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