According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults age 65 and over fall each year, and for this age group falls remain the leading cause of injury death. A broken bone or serious injury can dramatically impact mobility and overall independence for an aging loved one. Luckily there are a few important environmental and lifestyle actions we can take to protect and maintain the highest quality of life.
Regular moderate exercise has possibly the greatest impact on independence for seniors. Among its benefits are:
- improved balance
- muscle tone and strength
- bone health
- reduced risk of diseases
- increased heart health
- and much more!
Our bodies are constantly renewing and remaking themselves. Tissues, bones, indeed all of us, cell by cell are remade ever 7-10 years. When we engage in activity and do weight bearing exercises, it tells our bodies to make strong health bones in order to keep up with the activities of daily living. If we aren’t engaged in those activities, the body doesn’t bother making strong bones that aren’t being used to bear weight etc. A plan to age in place well should include a daily workout plan, as exercising the body helps aging loved ones exercise their independence.
Whether you are just starting an exercise routine or want motivation to keep going, the National Institute on Aging has created a fantastic resource called Go4Life www.go4life.nig.gov. This physical activity and exercise campaign is designed to help older adults fit exercise into daily life. They offer exercises, motivational tips, and free resources to get active and stay active. The national outreach campaign also includes an exercise guide, video and interactive website. For a free "Workout to Go Sample" click the link http://www.nia.nih.gov/sites/default/files/workout_to_go.pdf
A balanced diet and proper vitamins for your age also work in tandem with any exercise program. As we age, what our bodies need changes. Be sure to consult your doctor to make sure that you are receiving the proper vitamins and nutrients in the optimal amounts. Also, be sure to ask if there are any side effects to your current medications that may increase your risk of a fall such as dizziness or fatigue.
The last step to reducing the risk of falls is to take an environmental inventory of the home. Small changes can make a big impact. Consider:
- removing slippery rugs
- keeping walkways clear furniture and clutter
- adding hand railings in stairways
- installing rails and slip resistant mats in the bathroom
- lighting halls and stairways for safety at night
- wear proper shoes around the house and on outings
If you are concerned that your loved one may not be aging well in place, we can provide a neutral assessment of the environment and your loved one. A Geriatric Care Manager can recommend changes in the home and lifestyle to maximize safety, independence and quality of life. Home Care is another important option in minimizing fall risks. Having stand-by assistance for activities of daily living or outings can make living at home safely a viable option for many.
Published on March 11, 2013.