Here are some quick tips to help your balance dysfunction no matter what the cause. These concepts are simple, but not easy. It will take time and some adjustment on your part, but it’s worth the investment.
Improve the lighting in your home
By improving the lighting in your home you can optimize the ability to utilize your vision to help maintain your balance. Add more lights in your home and make them brighter. Even consider adding night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways to minimize the risk of falling if you have to get up in the middle of the night.
Remove or secure any tripping hazards
Removing or securing tripping hazards will help to minimize your risk of falling. Some common fall hazards in the home that people may not think about include throw rugs, loose cords or wires on the floor, stacks of clutter, and pet toys.
Throw rugs may seem harmless but they tend to be one of the most common tripping hazards in the home. There is the potential to catch the edge of the rug and trip or slide on the rug if there isn’t a non-skid backing on the underside of the throw rug.
Having loose cords or wires on the floor may seem like an obvious tripping hazard to some. To minimize the risk of tripping over cords, try plugging things into a different outlet if that will minimize cords running in areas that you commonly move around in. However, that may not be a very practical solution for many people. The next best solution would be to run the cords along the baseboard to keep them out of the way. Securing these cords with tape or a cord floor cover, which may be more aesthetically pleasing, can keep the cords from becoming a tripping hazard.
Minimizing clutter, pet toys included, will help to decrease your risk of falling. If there is less on the floor, there is less to trip on. By clearing papers, clothing, shoes, pet toys, etc. from the floor takes obstacles out of the way and gives you more space to safely move around in.
Install grab bars and handrails
Installing grab bars in your bathroom and making sure there are handrails in your stairways will minimize your risk for falling.
Having a grab bar at the side of the tub or shower that you can use to steady yourself as you are stepping in and out of the shower will help to maintain your balance. Additionally, having a grab bar inside of the shower can be helpful as the wet surface makes it slippery and can increase your risk for falling.
By having at least one handrail that spans the whole staircase can help minimize your risk for falls. When you go up and down the stairs you spend a lot of time on one foot. If your single leg balance isn’t great, the stairs can be very daunting. By having a handrail you can use your arms to help steady yourself when going up and down the stairs.
Just Move More
The modern lifestyle has most of us moving less and less as our economy has moved into knowledge work meaning many jobs that require movement (physical labor) have gone away. So, we have to add movement into our daily routine to counteract our sedentary lives. This doesn’t have to be running 10 miles or going to the gym for hours on end. Simple solutions like a walk with your dog or other loved one, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or even parking as far away from the grocery store as you can are little changes you can make to add more movement into your day.
Use it or Lose it
Yes, the saying is true! Use it or lose it. Our bodies are smart and when our bodies realize that they don’t have to do something, they won’t do it. There are 10 principles of neuroplasticity and “use it or lose it” is #1. Without getting into the nitty gritty of all of the principles of neuroplasticity, they all have to do with promoting improved outcomes for treatment, from a neurological standpoint. As I said before, if we don’t utilize something, even our balance and VOR, those neurological circuits begin to degrade. That doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to improve your balance or your VOR. All it means is that it’ll take some work to get it back to an optimal level. The first few times you practice your balance or work on your VOR, it may be more challenging because your brain has to re-learn those neurological circuits again. It’s important to keep practicing your balance, in a safe environment, and stay moving to optimize your VOR to keep those neurological circuits working how they should.