Posted on Aug 18, 2014
As we reach the 60 plus age bracket, we start noticing people our age and even friends or acquaintances running errands while wearing mortifying-looking knee contraptions and wrist supports. Unfortunately, others are just learning how to use their first new walker. Yes, even from the corner of our eyes, we start to look in their direction trying to be unobtrusive, and even if we don’t want to, some of us still do. Why? Because we start thinking about ourselves in the image of others, and start saying inwardly, “She’s my age...hmm.”
A fall never did anything to us before; well, maybe we got a little bruised now and then. However, a broken bone was never a concern until we lost our balance or hurt our knee in the hallway while scampering out of the building during a fire alarm drill, or while trying to hurry and make some baskets with the grandkids at a basketball court on a day off.
Our busy lifestyle, undiagnosed chronic ailments, in addition to the lack of concern about our physical well-being in our thirties, forties, and fifties soon catches up with us. Those first broken bones kick on the recognition light bulb right in our face. By the time we reach our 60s, 70s and 80s, the risk of sustaining debilitating injuries from falls increases
Costs Associated With Falls
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an online article with sobering figures of the 2010 cost report associated with falls in the senior population. This 2010 report outcome was published online March 2014 under the title Cost of Falls Among Older Adults. Their post stated, “…falls among older adults cost the U.S. health care system $30 billion in direct medical costs.”
According to the CDC, one out of three adults 65 and older will fall each year. “Of those who fall, 20 to 30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries…” Once they fall and have these injuries, their quality of life will change. Fractures are some of the most-common fall injuries. Traumatic brain injuries are also associated with falls in the older adult and senior populations.
Physical Activity Helps Reduce Fall Risks
Some seniors, along with family caregivers, are under the wrong impression that by limiting a senior from moving around they will not fall. Limiting both movement and exercise routines causes more damage than not. When seniors and middle age adults do not exercise, their legs become weaker. In fact, their risk for having a fall increases.
If you want to start an exercise routine to help minimize fall risks, please speak with a physician and talk about concerns and goals, but be realistic. If you have a fear of falling, communicate your fears, too.
The following are some recommended physical activities and exercises that may help reduce falls:
-- Balance and Strength Exercises
Tai-chi is often recommended to help improve balance and strength. In fact, tai-chi has even been researched as to its ability to reduce balance issues in some Parkinson’s patients. In a study’s findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tai-chi was found to be of benefit to patients who had mild-to-moderate Parkinson’s. In fact, the conclusion in the published study states, “…tai chi training appears to reduce balance impairments in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease, with additional benefits of improved functional capacity and reduced falls.” Start slow and be judicious about maintaining a routine.
Walking helps strengthen muscles and improve endurance. If you do not want to walk by yourself, find some walking buddies. Check with local organizations and find reputable walking groups in your area. Contact local YMCAs, senior organizations, churches or synagogues about starting a group or joining a group of walkers. One local group is Healthy Central Florida, a community-based organization that promotes health and urges locals to become physically active.
Senior Helpers of Orlando understands the benefits of healthy physical activity in our older adult population. Maintaining a reasonable level of activity regardless of age is important. We also want to encourage our readers to consult with their doctors before starting a new exercise program.
If you know of someone who needs companion care or home health care, call Senior Helpers of Orlando at 407-628-4357. We will be happy to set up an appointment at your convenience.
Senior Helpers Orlando Team Member