A balanced life is a happy life. I’m sure you have heard that said many times over the years. Usually when the phrase is mentioned, it refers to balanced family, work, and play. For many people in their 60’s and beyond, a balanced life also refers to reducing their chances of falling. Fall related injuries account for the majority of ER trips in older populations. Having a balanced life is literally the line between living and potential death.
As I write this blog, it is December 26 and people are transitioning thoughts from Christmas parties to New Year’s parties. Also, around the corner are the traditional resolutions of weight loss, more income, and some kind of personal development goal. Why not add improved balance to the list for older adults? Having better balance gives you more confidence in daily activities and higher self-esteem to expand out of your comfort zone. You don’t have a fear of falling or being unable to perform fun activities with friends. Taking that hike or walk someone has invited you on but you refuse to go for fear you can’t make it because of falling. Something that simple can bring great joy of accomplishment which leads to new challenges and a feeling of independence.
Like all other goals, improving balance is work and has many small failures. You don’t have a balanced life in 15 minutes once a year. Similar to weight loss, having better balance is a process and must be consistently worked on. You will be frustrated and want to quit. One side of the body will not work at the level of the other. Small changes may not be noticed at first by you. Over time, you will become used to these new changes and self-confidence increases without realizing it. Then a moment of truth occurs. Performing something usual like putting dishes away, you slightly stumble and don’t fall. In fact, you never lose rhythm of your task. Then, you reflect a moment and know a milestone was achieved without any fanfare. Before all this practice, you know a fall was imminent from the stumble along with an injury that could set you back weeks or months. Now it is a non-issue and your day continues without a bump! Congrats! You’re achieving a balanced life!
A balanced life doesn’t require lots of equipment, just a determination to get a little better each week and work consistently. The brain, nervous system, and muscles respond automatically to your benefit. Practicing in the solitude of your house is perfectly fine. No social media posts are needed. Keep working and before you know it, life is a bit easier and the smile on your face lasts a little longer. Now you’re ready to bring on the next challenge. Go out and climb that hill (real or proverbial), it’s ready for you to claim victory!