Let’s Prevent Falls this September!
September 1, 2022
A Key to Quality Longevity
Taking a stand on your health can be one of the most powerful tools for longevity. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), over one in four Americans fall every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for people over 65 years old. At Pisgah Valley Retirement Community, we are fortunate to have the Wellness Center for residents and members to access; not to mention qualified and experienced staff trained to recognize signs and symptoms of individuals at an increased risk for falling.
As we age, natural processes take place that increase the risk for falling no matter who you are; reduced muscle strength, reduced brain cognition, difficulty changing directions, medication use and other physical and environmental factors. Proactive measures to avoid a fall include being aware of warning signs, staying physically and mentally active with intentional exercise, eating a consistent and wholesome diet, staying hydrated, managing medications and communicating any fears surrounding falls with a health professional.
One of the most obvious signs is gait and balance challenges. Do you notice that you feel the need to hold on to surfaces as you move around? If so, this is the time to set up an appointment with your regular physician to have an evaluation. Do you experience dizziness or fatigue often? If so this could be a consequence to nutritional deficiencies, dehydration or medications. Your regular physician can help determine the cause and create an action plan to improve these areas. For most of us, vision and hearing loss occurs with age. These two factors can create balance difficulties. Be proactive by having your eyesight and vision checked by specialists. Glasses and contacts can help your sight and a hearing aid can help improve hearing. This can improve your quality of life and help with socialization as well.
Other warning signs include muscle weakness, restless sleep, malnutrition, stiff joints, a newly diagnosed condition such as diabetes, hypertension or Parkinson’s Disease. If you display one or more of the warning signs, now’s the time to consult with a health professional about taking steps to improve your balance and everyday habits to reduce your risk for falling. And speaking of proactive steps…let’s talk about your home environment.
Most older adults spend a good deal of time in the home setting. One of the best ways to prevent falls is to evaluate your home’s safety. Think of aging in place (AIP) strategies -eliminate throw rugs, reduce clutter especially on the floor, equip your space with adequate lighting inside and out, install grab bars in bathroom areas, install ramps at entrances and more. Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Council on Aging of Buncombe County are great resources for aging in place questions.
There is a quote by famous physical fitness coach, Jess Sims that says, “You don’t have to, you get to.” I like to use this quote when thinking about exercise. We can move our bodies any way we feel and that is exercise. Try channeling this can-do attitude and make sure you aim for 150 minutes of intentional movement each week. Also aim to add a strengthening component to your workout and focus on activating the core, quadriceps, hamstrings and glute muscle groups (all the groups that help us with stability and balance). Consider joining Balance and Flex class every Wednesday at 1:00pm, Water Aerobics or Stay Strong Strength Training every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00am for guided instruction on how to properly exercise the body for better balance.
By taking a stand on your health and proactive measures to reduce falls, you can save time, money, stress and worry. It’s a lot easier to enjoy life and put in some sweat equity (“because we can, not because we have to”) to remain stable and strong, rather than spend hours or days in pain trying to recuperate from a bad fall. After all, life is too short and if we’re aiming for quality longevity then falls prevention is key.