I watched the new PBS show called Brain Secrets in which our own founder, Dr. Mike Merzenich, is featured. One of the everyday examples of brain fitness Dr. Mike mentions is how older people can avoid falling down by training their brains to keep their head upright when they walk. Older people have more fear of falling than they do of being mugged; and because of that fear, they change their behaviors in a way that unfortunately might cause them to fall easier.
Why? Because when someone is afraid of falling, they start to look down when they walk, especially on stairs. By doing so, they are not as aware of the environment around them and fail to see other possible obstructions that can cause them to fall; or they get bumped by someone walking past them (that they didn’t see) and lose their balance. And the more afraid they are of falling, the more they look down. Unfortunately, by doing this, older people are training their brains in an unhelpful direction and un-training their brains to be able to walk confidently with their head upright.
Dr. Mike’s recommendation for older adults? … keep walking with their head and eyes upright and do not retrain the brain to look down. They will be safer that way.
Learn more about the research for balance and fall risk.