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Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, once said, “The human body is the most complex system ever created. The more we learn about it, the more appreciation we have about what a rich system it is.” Indeed, it is. And over the years our bodies serve us well. Our muscle mass and balance peak in our twenties, yet still in our thirties and beyond, our bodies remarkably continue to withstand normal wear-and-tear, repair and bounce back (albeit more slowly) from injuries and perhaps surgeries, and provide us with a physical foundation we can count on.
However, despite our body’s resiliency, as we age it is completely normal and expected for older adults to lose some strength and balance, and unfortunately, this increases our risk of falls. In fact, 1 in 4 older adults reported falling, totaling nearly 36 million falls per year, with 8 million of those falls requiring medical attention due to injury. And 50% of seniors who fall will likely fall again.
While these may feel like sobering or even anxiety-producing statistics, the most important takeaway is that actively working on your balance and strength can yield many positive returns in the future. Evidence shows that older adults in community-living settings who participate in structured fall prevention programs, especially those older adults who are in high-risk groups (those who have previously fallen or who have a fear of falling), benefit the most and can reduce the number of fallers and the number of falls.
Here are a series of pro-tips from the expert team at Ageility to help ease falling anxieties and to help strengthen your knowledge on fall prevention for seniors.
1. Prevent indoor falls
2. Physical fitness reminders
3. Outdoor fall prevention and precautions
4. Prior preparation & decision making:
Don’t let lack of balance hurt your quality of life
By making these accommodations to your indoor and outdoor environments, as well as your daily routines, you can reduce and prevent your chance of a fall. And if you’re living at a Five Star Senior Living community, chances are you have an onsite Ageility Rehab and Fitness clinic or other physical therapy and fitness program to help you maintain your strength and range of motion. All of which can help you avoid falls that can lead to injury – so that you can maintain maximum independence.
Are you or your loved one struggling with strength and balance or nervous about falling?
Often the hardest part of doing something new is getting started, and that's especially true about exercise. This article from AARP makes it easy to get started with the most important exercise to help you age healthy: squats. Five or ten squats are easy to do while you wait for the coffee to brew or the microwave to finish heating.Even when we're healthy we sometimes need a little extra help with the house or errands. Visit our website at www.rosehillathome.com to learn more about how Rose Hill Stay-at-Home Services can help you or a loved one stay in independent and at home.
Millions of older people fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While younger people may not think much of a simple household trip, falls are much more serious than many realize. Their aftermath can drastically alter a persons quality of life, putting their physical and mental health at risk. Thats why fall prevention is so critically important.At ComForCare, our mission is to help older adults live at home safely and confidently for as long as possible. We work alongside families, providing not only expert care but also educational resources to support healthy relationships and healthy families. Lets take a look at why fall prevention matters, how to recognize risk factors, and what you can do to prevent falls!Why Fall Prevention MattersWhile not every fall results in a serious injury, one in five doesand the consequences can be life-altering. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures, and they account for 3 million emergency department visits each year. And while its painful to think about, the CDC estimates that by 2030, falls could cause dozens of deaths per day.Even if the fall itself doesnt result in death, the complications can be devastating. Seniors may experience severely limited mobility and cognitive function, restricting their activities, leading to physical decline and even depression and social isolation. All of these outcomes are linked to a shorter lifespan.Most Common Risk Factors for a FallMedications: Some medications or combinations of medications can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and delayed reaction times as side effects. Cognitive impairments: Alzheimers disease and dementia can slow down reaction times or make it easy to become distracted and overlook a fall risk.Nutritional deficiencies: Many older adults dont get enough protein or vitamin D in their diets, leading to muscle loss and weakness that increases the risk of falling.Lower body weakness: Many health conditions and simply aging itself can lead to weakness in the lower body or difficulties with walking and balance. Health care issues: blood pressure that is too low or too high, vision impairments, and even podiatric issues can all contribute to falls.What Can Seniors Do to Prevent Falls?For optimized comfort and safety at your or your loved ones home, use these steps to prevent falls!Home Safety InterventionsFall-proofing your home is one of the most important interventions you can make. To start, remove any throw rugs, floor clutter, or electrical cords that can be tripped over. Additional changes to consider include:Fixing any broken or uneven steps & flooringMoving furniture so loved ones using an assistive device like a cane or walker can easily navigate around itInstalling grab bars in bathroomsFor additional steps, download our fall risk reduction guide! To fully safeguard your loved one and account for their needs, you may also consider a personalized fall risk assessment. Exercises for Balance & StrengthIn some cases, older adults may need the help of a physical therapist or occupational therapist to regain their strength and balance. But all seniors can benefit from exercises to reduce the risk of falls. Even simple exercises can help! One of the easiest leg-strengthening exercises is the calf raise. From a standing position, rise up on your toes, keeping your heels above the ground. Then, slowly return to your normal position. Try doing three sets of ten calf raises with one to three minutes of rest in between. Call in a friend or family member to help with balance!Improve Awareness & Reduce the FearFall risk awareness sits at the middle of a spectrum. On one hand, some people dont realize that falls arent a normal part of aging and therefore dont understand their risk factors. On the other, some people become afraid, reducing or restricting healthy activities out of a fear of falling. Fall risk management programs like Gaitway are designed to help older adults overcome those fears and minimize their risks. Gaitway helps people view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, and take manageable steps to reduce their fall risks at home.Consider In-Home CareIf your loved one has one or more fall risk factors or has fallen in the past, it may be time to consider in-home care. ComForCares caregivers are trained in all aspects of fall prevention, performing safety assessments and screenings, recommending adjustments to the home environment, and so much more. Our caregivers understand senior nutrition and can prepare meals to support their vitamin, mineral, protein, and hydration goals. They can provide mobility assistance to boost confidence and make getting around easier. They can manage medications and coordinate with healthcare providers. And above all, theyre an additional resource for families supporting elderly loved ones, establishing open lines of communication about fall fears and concerns.Schedule a Home Safety Evaluation with ComForCareBeing an active fall manager for a loved one is an important role. But it can be a lot to manage, and important things easily go unmanaged or unnoticed. If youre ready for a partner to close the gaps and provide an expert perspective, choose ComForCare. We provide in-home care services to help seniors age comfortably and safely at home. Well match your family member with a caregiver ideally suited to their preferences, personality, and needs so you can rest assured that theyre receiving the best assistance possible.Schedule a home safety evaluation with ComForCare today to protect your loved one and support their needs!Contact ComForCare to Be Matched with Your Perfect Caregiver call today, 720-575-5576.
Winter Wellness for SeniorsBy Patrick Troumbley, MS, CSCSBalancing the 8 Pillars of Wellness for Seniors in Winter: Evidence-Based Insights Introduction As winter descends, the well-being of seniors becomes a paramount concern. Aging individuals must navigate the unique challenges that colder temperatures and reduced daylight hours bring. This article delves into the intricacies of balancing the 8 pillars of wellness for seniors during the winter season, substantiating insights with scholarly references. Physical Wellness Physical wellness, a cornerstone of senior health, demands careful attention during winter. Maintaining physical activity is essential for avoiding the adverse effects of inactivity and cold weather. A study by de Rezende et al. (2014) emphasizes the importance of regular physical activity for seniors, citing its role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Indoor exercises like yoga and chair exercises, as recommended by the American Heart Association (2021), offer viable options to stay active during winter. Mental Wellness The winter months often usher in feelings of isolation and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A study by Melrose (2015) underscores the prevalence of SAD among older adults. Engaging in cognitive stimulation activities can alleviate symptoms. Seniors can find solace in local clubs, virtual classes, and community events, as advocated by Forrester (2017), who highlights the significance of social engagement in mitigating SAD symptoms. Emotional WellnessEmotional wellness hinges on effective emotional regulation. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are integral components of emotional wellness. A systematic review by Rusch et al. (2019) supports the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress and anxiety. Seniors can access mindfulness resources and guidance on emotional wellness through organizations such as Seniors Blue Book Utah. Social WellnessMaintaining an active social life is pivotal for seniors. The adverse effects of social isolation on senior well-being have been extensively documented (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015). Seniors are encouraged to participate in local clubs and community events, as promoted by Senior Expos, to foster social connections. Intellectual Wellness Intellectual wellness necessitates ongoing learning and mental stimulation. Seniors can embrace hobbies like reading and learning new languages to foster intellectual growth. A study by Verghese et al. (2003) associates intellectual engagement with a reduced risk of cognitive decline in aging individuals. Occupational Wellness Occupational wellness transcends traditional work and relates to engaging in purposeful activities. Volunteering, as explored in a study by Okun et al. (2016), offers seniors a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Seniors can explore volunteer opportunities through organizations like Seniors Blue Book Utah. Environmental Wellness Winter introduces environmental challenges, such as slippery sidewalks and heating concerns. Seniors must ensure their living environments are safe and comfortable. The National Institute on Aging (2021) provides valuable tips for creating senior-friendly environments. Spiritual Wellness Spiritual wellness revolves around finding meaning and purpose in life. Engaging in spiritual practices, such as meditation and prayer, can provide solace and inner peace. A study by Carlson et al. (2016) explores the positive effects of mindfulness-based spiritual practices on well-being. Conclusion Balancing the 8 pillars of wellness is paramount for senior well-being, especially during the winter months. Evidence-based insights emphasize the need for regular physical activity, cognitive stimulation, social engagement, and emotional regulation. Seniors can access resources and information from reputable organizations like Seniors Blue Book Utah and Senior Expos to aid in their pursuit of wellness. By integrating these scholarly insights into their winter routines, seniors can not only survive but thrive during this season, enjoying a life marked by health, happiness, and purpose. References: American Heart Association. (2021). Recommendations for Physical Activity in Older Adults. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-older-adults Carlson, L. E., et al. (2016). Mindfulness-based interventions for coping with cancer. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), 5-12.de Rezende, L. F. M., et al. (2014). Physical activity and preventable premature deaths from non-communicable diseases in Brazil. Journal of Public Health, 36(3), 514-522. Forrester, A. (2017). Seasonal affective disorder in older adults: improving mood and well-being through leisure interventions. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 41(1), 39-53. Holt-Lunstad, J., et al. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227-237.Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal affective disorder: An overview of assessment and treatment approaches. Depression Research and Treatment, 2015, 1-6.National Institute on Aging. (2021). Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults. https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/infographics/winter-safety-tips-older-adults Okun, M. A., et al. (2016). Volunteering by older adults and risk of mortality: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 31(6), 634-645. Rusch, H. L., et al. (2019). A randomized controlled trial of the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on posttraumatic growth among survivors of interpersonal violence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 32(6), 936-946. Verghese, J., et al. (2003). Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(25), 2508-2516.Patrick Troumbley, MS, CSCS