Falling poses a serious threat to seniors’ health. Every year, an estimated 2.5 million seniors 65 or over visit emergency rooms with fall injuries, often as a result of lack of balance and strength training. Exercise may help decrease falls by strengthening balance and strength training; avoid trip hazards like area rugs that increase the risk of falling; consult your physician regarding medications that could also increase that risk.
As fall arrives, many seniors begin to feel lethargic as the days become shorter and cooler. Many may experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), causing depression, weight gain and decreased energy; therefore, physical activity must break this cycle and increase overall well-being.
Exercise can do more than improve bone health – it also helps manage moods, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. As part of their fall wellness plans, adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily – this could include activities like walking, swimming or using a stationary bike.
Seniors should look for activities to increase balance and flexibility as a part of their fall and winter fitness routines to stay on their feet and avoid falls – the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults. Just one slip or fall could cause broken bones, hip fractures or head trauma – potentially making life more challenging later.
Seniors should take proactive measures to fall-proof their homes as part of a strategy to avoid falls. Services like furnace and chimney inspection and cleaning, carpet condition inspection and installing non-skid rugs are easy and inexpensive ways to reduce fall risks in the home environment.
Tip #6: Clean frequently by washing hands and disinfecting surfaces throughout the home. Also important: Inspect and replace batteries on smoke/carbon monoxide detectors often, particularly as temperatures cool off further and heating bills become an increasingly substantial expense for seniors.
Before beginning any exercise program, it’s advisable to visit with a physician and/or physical therapist and seek their recommendation if needed. When starting any new fitness regimen, gradually increase frequency, duration, and intensity over time. Warm-up/cool-down exercises before and after any workout should also be included – plus, don’t forget drinking plenty of water throughout the day for good measure! For safety’s sake it may also be beneficial to ask friends or family members for assistance when venturing outdoors during fall/winter seasons!
Diet is essential at every age, but especially as we get older. Your body needs fewer calories but still requires essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The USDA recently launched MyPlate as a guide for meal planning; try choosing whole foods low in added sugars, salt, and saturated fat instead of processed ones when possible, and check labels to ensure adequate amounts of fiber and other important vitamins are part of your daily intake.
Fall is also an ideal time for having both eyes and ears checked since changes in vision or hearing may lead to falls – one of the leading causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries among seniors aged 65+. Falls can result in broken bones, hip fractures, and head trauma – increasing your risk for long-term care or hospitalization.
Get more sleep, reduce alcohol, caffeine, and medication intake, and ensure your home has sufficient lighting to improve vision as the days grow shorter and darker.
Staying hydrated is also key, particularly as temperatures change and your thirst diminishes. Water, herbal tea, and vegetable/fruit juice should all form part of your daily regimen. If you find that keeping up with fluid intake becomes challenging for any reason, speak to your physician or pharmacist for advice; they may suggest other means of providing necessary nutrition; additionally, they can prescribe dietary supplements like calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, and B-12 that may assist certain medical conditions.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is essential at any age, but especially so as we age. A poor night’s rest can contribute to depression, attention problems and memory issues, excessive daytime sleepiness, and increased fall risk – not to mention hip fractures in those 65 or over! Falls are one of the primary causes of injury and death among this population but don’t have to be part of aging – many falls can be avoided through prevention measures.
In fact, according to CDC research, annually 2.5 million adults age 65 and over are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries, and one-third return within one year following initial hospital treatment for falls.
Normal adults require seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night; however, seniors often struggle with insomnia and other sleep-related issues due to various factors, including natural shifts in their internal clock (the “sleep-wake” cycle), medications, pain management issues or health conditions such as diabetes or prostate disease that keep them up at night.
Exercise and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help seniors to improve their sleep. Still, it is important to consult your physician first about potential causes of sleeping difficulties before embarking on any new physical or nutrition regimes.
Additional steps that may help increase your odds of a sound night’s rest include:
Establishing a regular bedtime and waking routine can be helpful. Limiting liquid intake prior to sleeping can reduce bathroom trips in the nighttime hours. Wearing shoes that fit properly as well as keeping floors free from trip hazards are additional strategies for decreasing falls risk. In addition, getting eye and vision exams annually to detect any health conditions which affect balance and coordination will decrease the risk of falling significantly.
Autumn’s vibrant leaves can be an enjoyable sight, yet can also pose a potential safety hazard to seniors living alone or with limited mobility. Be sure to ensure any senior you care for clears away tripping hazards such as fallen leaves or boxes from porches, sidewalks, and key walkways as soon as they arise.
Talk to Your Doctor
Falling may not be inevitable part of growing older, but it remains one of the leading causes of injuries for adults over 65. Falls may lead to broken bones and long-term disability; however, most falls can often be avoided through sufficient sleep, regular exercise, and health screenings.
Talking with your physician after experiencing a fall is also crucial, even if the injuries were minor. Doing so may provide your physician with insight into new medical issues or changes to vision or medications which could make future falls more likely; additionally, they could suggest physical therapy, walking aids or other ways of helping reduce future incidents of falls.
An annual visit to your doctor can help you discuss ways to stay healthy during autumn, such as eliminating trip hazards from your home. Schedule maintenance checks on heating systems and chimneys as well as professional wood stove cleanings; remove throw rugs that pose trip hazards from the floor; wear shoes with nonskid soles to keep floors clutter-free; wear nonslip footwear on stairs and have grab bars installed for safety if attempting to rise from a chair or move about freely throughout your house.
Vision and hearing changes can increase your risk for falling, so you must regularly visit an eye doctor and follow his/her advice about prescription eyewear and hearing aids. Have your ears tested by an ENT and follow any advice they give regarding hearing aids as well.
Firstly, try to stay as calm as possible and breathe deeply. Second, it is important to slowly get up from a fall, moving carefully so as not to twist your ankle or cause further injury. Thirdly, don’t ignore any pain or discomfort; even simple falls can become major medical concerns requiring urgent medical attention.
Each year, millions of elderly Americans experience falls. While some falls cannot be avoided entirely, many can be avoided through diet modifications and rest/exercise regiments as well as maintaining health screenings and making your home safe.