My mother fell at least twice in her senior years. Once on a slippery bathroom floor and the second time in a fast food restaurant. She seriously injured herself both times. I wanted to hire a personal trainer to come to her home to work with her to help her become more stable. Unfortunately, her health declined and she passed calmly due to other health issues.
I see my mom everywhere I go. Senior adults that wobble when they walk and need help getting around.
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among people 65 years or older. In 2014, 27,000 older adults died because of falls. 2.8 million older adults were treated in the ER and approximately 800,000 of these patients were subsequently hospitalized.
Healthy aging is all about prevention
and one of the most preventable problems that we could face, as we age,
You’re most likely not 65 years old or older right now, but you will be. Remember, everything in the universe is aging, and that includes you. If you don’t start preparing now, you will be at risk of falling someday.
The good news: most falls are preventable.
Here is the secret: You have to incorporate instability into your workouts!!!!
First, if you’re between 20-60, exercise is absolutely essential for preventing falls. The best type of exercise is walking and the best type of walking is hiking. As a personal trainer, I love seeing people walk and hiking.
I was listening to a new podcast this past week called “Live Long and Master Aging,” by Peter Bowles. He was interviewing Olga Connolly, and 84-year old Olympian and Personal Trainer. She was amazing! It’s wonderful to see older adults working well into their eighties. What was her recommended exercise for people: walking?
For the most part, I have stopped running. Not because of any injuries, but because I want to avoid future wear and tear on my body. The problem is, walking doesn’t always activated muscles that you need for fall prevention. In order to become more stable, you need an unstable walking environment. (Incorporate instability into your workouts) Hiking provides that unstable environment in the form of forest or mountain trails.
Second, you need a stable core!!! I will spend lots of time talking about your core in upcoming blogs. Suffice it to say, your core is as important as your legs for preventing falls.
There are several types of training that will decrease your chances of a fall: Center-of-Control Training, Multi-Sensory Training, Postural Strategy Training, Gait Patterns Enhancement Training, Strength and Endurance Training and Flexibility Training.
If you have you want to find out more about becoming fall-proof, seek out a personal trainer or physical therapist that utilizes the Fall-Proof curriculum developed at the Center for Successful Aging at California State University at Fullerton.
This past week I became aware of three older adults that fell. One ended up in the emergency room. One end up falling flat on his face. One ended up dying. All three were suffering from either a neurological disorder or cardio vascular disease. It’s questionable if any of the falls could have been prevented. There are many opportunistic diseases that we could fall victim to. In most cases, injuries due to falls can be prevented.
Aging well really boils down to developing a lifestyle
that will help prevent those injuries and diseases that can rob you of the good life.
This is part four in the Healthy Aging Series, written by Mark Neese, LCSW, BCBA. To see more entries in this series, click here.