For Senior Adults: More Activity Means Fewer Falls
If you have a senior in your life that you care for and love, you probably know that falls are the chief cause of injury for aging adults. Falls occur in nearly one-third of the population of those aged 65 and older. And even more alarming is the fact that falls occur in 50 percent of those over the age of 80.
More Activity, Fewer Falls
Medical professionals continually promote fall prevention by encouraging seniors to get active, which helps to reduce their risk of falling. The sad fact is, many inactive seniors aren’t even aware of the risk of falls until they fall and suffer injury. In a U.K. study by the Centre for Ageing Better, the foundation found 40 percent of individuals 70 and above didn’t realize balance and strength improvement could help prevent falls.
Simple, everyday activities like walking, gardening, shopping, and even dancing, can help senior adults improve their balance and strength. With this simple addition of daily activity, falls among seniors could be significantly reduced. Many doctors recommend tai chi for senior adults because of its slow, yet graceful movements. With each increase in physical activity, the risk of falls is reduced, and strength, coordination, balance, and flexibility are improved.
Other studies show the most sedentary individuals, on average, are those over the age of 65. Many in this age group lie down or sit for as much as 10 hours a day causing functional decline and increasing the risk of falling. The same studies reveal that even a minimal increase in physical activity can decrease functional decline and the potential number of falls.
Some senior adults enjoy traveling and this is a great way to increase activity however those who decide to go this route need to gradually increase their activity levels in preparation for traveling. In doing so, they will enhance their enjoyment and lessen the chance of falling and subsequent injury on their traveling adventures.
Decrease Falls with These Tips
On top of increased activity, there are other things senior adults can do to decrease the chance of falling and injury. A visit to the physician can help with fall prevention, by reviewing medications for potential side effects that may increase the chance of falling. If there are concerns, the doctor may lower dosage amounts or change medications to help. If the senior adults in your life enjoy wearing high heels, flip flops or shoes with slick soles, suggest they try stylish well-fitting shoes with support which can reduce joint pain and the risk of stumbling, slipping, and falling.
Seniors who live independently may have hazards in and around their home that can be removed to help with fall prevention. Boxes, papers, cords are hazards in walkways as are magazine racks, plant stands, area rugs, and coffee tables. Senior adults should rearrange clothing, shoes, food, dishes, and other needed items to within easy reach, which will also limit opportunities for falls. Non-slip mats in the bathtub or shower, along with grab bars can also help prevent falls. Also, keeping seniors’ homes well-lit with nightlights and a lamp within reach of the bed will help at night with trips to the bathroom or kitchen. If needed, senior adults can aid mobility with the use of canes or walkers which keep them moving and active while keeping falls at bay.
Other Benefits of an Active Lifestyle
Daily activity not only helps will fall prevention, but also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and dementia. Seniors who are active also have lower incidence of depression.
Before beginning any new physical activities or exercise, consult with a physician who can recommend the best exercises to improve flexibility, balance, gait, and muscle strength.