Third of four parts

Even if the physical injuries sustained in a fall aren’t grave, the resulting fear of falling again can have serious consequences. Maybe you move less, thinking life is safer in a chair. But this change in attitude can lead to seclusion, social isolation and depression.

» READ MORE: Part one: Overall strength moves to make getting up and down easier

So it’s important not only to avoid falling, but to also know that you can get down on the ground — and back up again — entirely on purpose. This is a basic fitness ability that too many people give up as they age. But it’s so important for your mobility and independence. Plus, you may want to exercise on the floor, play with your pets, or enjoy scrambling around with your grandchildren.

Don’t be afraid to tell your health-care provider if you’ve had a fall, no matter how minor. Along with your annual vision and hearing check (eyes and ears are key to balance), ask to have your medication checked regularly. And ask for a recommendation for exercise classes that focus on stability, flexibility and balance.

» READ MORE: Part two: What to do after a fall

Ways to make your home safer

More than half of all falls occur in the home. Many insurance companies cover the fee for having a specialist come into the home to provide a home safety assessment; so give yours a call and ask. Here are more useful tips:

  • Have grab bars installed in the bathroom and make sure mats in the bathroom — and everywhere you walk — have secure, nonslip backing or are secured with double-sided tape.

  • Lighting in every room should be bright and efficient. Keep flashlights close by in case of a power outage or blown bulb.

  • Do you have to run an obstacle course to get around your furniture? Ask for help rearranging it so your usual paths are clear.

  • Don’t allow electrical cords to snake across the floor. Tape them down

  • Make sure your stairways are well-lighted, especially at the top and bottom. Consider nonslip treads.

  • Don’t store items on the steps or in doorways.

  • Organize your kitchen so the things you use most often are in easy reach.

  • Ask your family to be your second set of eyes in your efforts to make your home safer.

Your down-and-up workout

You’ll need a sturdy chair that is not on wheels — place the chair back firmly against the wall for extra support — plus a thin cushion or pad if your knees trouble you.

  • Stand facing the chair seat with your feet hip-width apart.

  • Pull in your abdominal muscles so your spine is well supported throughout this movement. Slowly bend your knees and place your palms at the side edges of the chair seat. Make sure your hands are open; making fists will hurt your hands.

  • Bend your elbows, and if one leg is weaker than the other, start by supporting yourself on your strong leg, and lower yourself to the floor until the knee of your weaker leg touches the floor (place the pad or cushion down first if you’re using one). Lower both forearms to the chair seat and place the knee of your stronger leg down next to the other knee.

  • Next, place one hand on the floor, extend one leg and lower one hip to the floor, adjusting your arms as needed for balance. Straighten your legs and sit, breathing deeply a few times.

  • To get up: Place both arms on the floor, bend your knees and come onto all fours.

  • Then place both forearms on the seat of the chair. Lead with your strong leg as you place your foot on the floor by the chair. Press your forearms into the seat as you pick up the other leg, sticking your bottom out.

  • Place both hands on the edge of the chair and slowly straighten up, breathing easily throughout each step. Once up, take a few deep breaths and when you’re ready, repeat the whole process.

  • If you find this routine a challenge, keep practicing it twice weekly for at least three weeks. As it gets easier, increase to every other day, until you’ve made getting down on the floor and back up again a routine part of your day.

Next time: We focus on strengthening moves from your core that help with balance as well as pain relief.

Yvonne Ferguson Hardin (Fergie) is the owner of Fergie’s Instructional Training FIT in Germantown, and specializes in helping older adults maintain and improve wellness through classes and seminars at long-term care facilities, senior centers and other venues.