Tips for Helping Seniors Stay Afoot: Falls Prevention Awareness Day
If you’re among the baby boomers nearing 75, no doubt among your top concerns is staying healthy and independent. However, a recent JAMA study shows that more adults age 75 and above suffer from terminal falls each year. The rate of fatal falls actually doubled from the years 2000 to 2016. That means it’s more important than ever to commit to habits that are proven to prevent falls.
Hands down, the best way to prevent falls is for seniors to stay (or get) active. While this seems obvious, it can be difficult for some to find interests that keep them strong and fit and then to find ways to commit to these activities. Following are a variety of activities seniors can enjoy that are enjoyable, safe and healthy for both body and mind. With nearly two dozen skilled nursing facilities in Ohio and Michigan, we are on the frontlines of supporting patients after a detrimental fall. We know firsthand the setback a fall can have on seniors’ lives. Our advice to seniors in our rehab facilities upon discharge is the same advice that helps prevent falls in the first place: find ways to exercise that you love and keep at it.
These suggestions are no doubt obvious, but we suggest considering today a reminder to get moving or to encourage your loved ones to do so. Many times, key to developing healthy habits that prevent falls is to find a workout buddy or group. Besides staying motivated together, social interactions also prevent isolation and depression.
Walking is highly recommended activity for everyone, but especially those 75 and older because it reduces fatigue, builds stamina and can prevent osteoporosis. Studies show that regular walking significantly reduces the number of seniors who fracture hips. A mall is a great place to walk for falls prevention. In addition to being flat and open, guardrails serve as handrails for seniors to maintain stability. Temperatures in malls are regulated, people watching is entertaining and entrance is free. Whatever the setting, seniors can try walking to become stronger in body and mind.
Swimming presents cardiovascular benefits while also strengthening muscles without adding stress on bones. Swimming can include actual laps, water aerobic classes or even splashing around in the pool with grandchildren. Different water activities reduce stress and strains on joints, an important element in maintaining a strong body.
Yoga for seniors offers fantastic benefits for all areas of the body, and it reduces the chance of falling. Yoga strengthens muscles and core stability, as well as flexibility, which increases the range of movements for daily activities such as tying shoes, showering, caring for pets and playing with grandchildren. Seniors should seek out yoga instructors with experience teaching seniors, specifically. Some yoga classes for seniors include: Hatha, which teaches posture, Vinyasa, which consists of a series of fluid movements, Ashtanga which links breath to movement, and chair yoga for people who may not be able to stand for long periods of time. Controlled breathing with yoga poses helps manage blood pressure levels, while weight bearing and balance activities in yoga strengthen bones. The advantages of yoga for seniors can add up to fewer falls and a better quality of life.
4. Personal Trainer
A personal trainer offers custom attention to the specific needs of seniors. A trainer will assist with different methods of strength training for those adults who experience muscle loss. Simple body weight exercises or resistance band workouts keep the body strong, especially the back, and improve posture. Having a personal trainer helps to assure proper form and an individualized plan. This can be expensive, however, and many gyms offer affordable small group training where seniors can get similar personal attention while enjoying the company of others with similar goals. Be sure trainers are certified and have experience with older adults.
Regardless of the activity, there are plenty that help seniors maintain strong bodies to prevent falls, helping them enjoy longer, more fulfilling lives.
SKLD is leading the way in modernizing skilled nursing care and rehabilitation at facilities across Michigan and Ohio with short-term, transitional treatment and rehabilitation, and long-term nursing care. See our locations here.