TO FALL or not to fall? It's not really a hard question to answer.
I know I want to stay upright for as many years as I can.
There is a funny slogan going around for aging - "I've finally got my head together and now my body is falling apart"- but it doesn't have to be that way even if statistics show the risk of falling escalates around 65 years of age.
The cause of the problem is a lack of exercise and poor diet in earlier years combined with the process of aging and with the environments in which we live.
Falls prevention should start as young as 40. So some of you reading this and thinking about your parents really need to take heed and think about yourselves.
Causes of falling
- Deteriorating health
- Mobility and strength associated with aging
- Lack of exercise leading to impaired balance
- Impaired visual acuity
- Inappropriate footwear
- People traffic
- Unfamiliar environment
- Uneven, loose or slippery floors
The strongest evidence available for countermeasures to date might be summarised as:
- Increasing muscle strength, flexibility and bone density
- Improving balance and gait
Although there are a number of areas that we are categorised in as we age (independent living, supported care and acute care), I am focusing on the independent living community for this article.
Start today, not after Christmas, to increase the strength and endurance in your legs, because if they give way the only way you will be going is down.
- In the house, veranda or yard
- Up and down the street
- Around some parks, the Jetty and harbour area
- With a friend or solo
When you are no longer being challenged, increase the distance or the intensity by:
- Finding a gentle hill to walk up
- Walking faster, and/or
- Increase the distance
- Pick up a dancing class or two
- Attend classes specifically for your age group at reputable health clubs
Increase your leg strength
As I have said in previous articles, you lose 10% of muscle up to 55 then 40% more after that.
- Step ups
- Seated squats
Don't ignore your balance
Try standing on one leg (hold on to support if needed) and as your balance improves, release your death grip, and move to less assistance.
We all want to continue to complete our daily chores and still feel energetic enough to enjoy life, to remain active.
So keep fit or get moving.