As the body ages, it becomes much more susceptible to a variety of different medical conditions and ailments that can drastically effect the way an individual lives his or her life. One of the most prevalent, yet preventable, epidemics among the elderly is fall-related injuries. On an annual basis, medical costs associated with falling among Americans age 65 and older totals around $20 billion, and these injury's are the nation's leading cause of fatalities and hospital visits for senior citizens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 older adults have experienced a fall that has left them battered or broken in some way.
Does this mean that all older people are just clumsy? Absolutely not, but that doesn't dispute the fact that falls are preventable. There are a number of different methods and tactics elderly individuals can utilize to improve their balance and core strength that could drastically reduce the number of injuries caused by falling. Certain exercises and fitness activities can help improve your ability to stay upright, and also have some other positive health effects on the body as well.
What causes seniors to fall more often than other people?
A variety of different factors contribute to the increased number of fall-related injuries among the country's elderly population. Poor vision and hearing can make it difficult to spot certain obstacles that cause falls. In addition, many seniors take a wide variety of different medications that can have a negative impact on the ability to maintain balance. These pharmaceutical cocktails being ingested on a daily basis can sometimes cause some adverse interactions inside your body that are entirely unintended by doctors who prescribe them. Therefore, aging adults should be sure to uphold an active dialog with their primary care physicians to ensure that such unintended side effects don't stifle your ability to stay upright. Elderly individuals should also schedule annual checkups with eye and ear specialists who can assess their current levels of vision or hearing loss. That way doctors can provide better treatment plans so you can avoid unexpected slips and slides that could result in a rather painful injury or worse.
Make your home safer
There are a few simple solutions that seniors can utilize around the house that could help you avoid falls in the future. Placement of rugs, carpeting, furniture and other household items should be carefully thought out for the most efficient design that places the least amount of obstacles in highly traversed areas. Now, this doesn't mean that you need to become a Feng shui master overnight, but a few changes could make all the difference in avoided a trip to the doctor's office. Throw rugs are a common hazard and can cause you to trip when entering a room or area of your house. Power cords for lamps, appliances and other electronics are common culprits, as you can easily get your feet tangled if you aren't observant. If you're a pet owner, dog or cat toys left lying about the house can cause a sudden loss of balance quite easily. Placing these items in a way that limits their exposure in high-traffic areas is a solid step toward avoiding fall-related injuries.
Balance exercises and physical fitness
It can be really difficult to start a new exercise program, especially when you're an aging adult. Additionally, the fear of falling can cause you to shy away from engaging in a number of activities. But certain fitness practices can significantly improve your ability to maintain balance, and can strengthen your body to limit the damage caused by falling down.
Yoga is an excellent way to greatly improve overall balance and flexibility. Explore some of the different options in your area, and schedule a class to learn about the benefits of this ancient practice. Yoga uses a series of poses that an individual holds for a certain length of time. While they may seem a little weird and awkward at first, with regular practice you'll be twisting and turning like you never thought possible. Yoga will not only help you with your balance, but can also be highly beneficial in reducing pain and stiffness caused by arthritis and other joint-related issues.
Along the same lines, tai chi is another great physical activity that can help improve your ability to balance. Like Yoga, this ancient art focuses on a series of poses and mantras that help promote optimal balance and can really calm the mind as well. Tai chi is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., and many communities contain a gym or studio that specializes in this type of exercise.
With the right preventative measures, seniors can easily reduce their risk of fall-related injuries around the house or out on the town. Through regular exercise and a few decorative changes, you can avoid the doctors office, achieve greater health and wellness and be better prepared for whatever life throws your way.