In the spring, I’m presenting to our statewide assisted living association on implementing facility-wide fall prevention policies. So I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months reading through research on fall prevention for older adults.
Fall prevention is one of the most common problems faced by institutions that care for older adults. According to the CDC, fall death rates in the US increased by 30% from 2007 to 2016. If this rate continues, it’s anticipated there will be seven fall deaths every hour by 2030. It's obvious the problem is getting worse, despite efforts to prevent avoidable falls.
In my research, I’ve found a few problems. Namely, the discrepancy between what research has found actually works and how falls prevention programs are structured in real life. Not to mention the “fluffy” information available to the general public online.
Not only do most fall prevention programs not work, but we implement policies...
I’m a movement coach and physical therapist, so obviously my opinion on why everyone needs a movement coach is a little biased. When I first started practicing, I didn’t think anyone needed intervention until something went wrong. It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong I was.
It makes no sense to wait for a hip fracture or diagnosis of diabetes to reach out for help. Preventing catastrophic injuries and decline later in life starts long before we should be concerned about hip fractures or diabetes anyway.
The reality is that each and every one of us should be working with a movement professional in some capacity. Why sit and wait for problems to happen before we start to take care of our physical health?
A movement coach can come in many different forms. They can be wellness professionals, personal trainers, physical or occupational therapists. You can find them practicing in pilates and yoga studios, in gyms,...
We’ve all heard the benefits of physical activity and exercise. Studies find that it increases lifespan, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and brings about a higher quality of life in our later years.
And yet, having an understanding of the power that exercise has is not always enough to motivate us to get moving.
That’s because we are approaching fitness and health all wrong. When we hear the terms “exercise” or “physical activity”, we tend to immediately think of a dedicated exercise program like running, yoga, or lifting. All of which can sound intimidating to a lifelong non-exerciser.
The book Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever by Bill Gifford gives an excellent overview of all the health benefits that exercise brings as we age. But as the author of the book points out, researchers have also realized you don’t have to have a formal exercise routine to reap the benefits. You simply need to get up and move more often....
The study of aging is a relatively new field of science. It wasn’t until the last century that we started to see both lifespan and quality of life extend exponentially. And it wasn’t until the last 50 years that researchers started to take a serious look at aging.
And as a physical therapist who works with older adults, aging is a topic I research often. A simple Google search provides a plethora of information on solutions that hold the supposed “cure” to aging. How should anyone know where to start to sort this information out? And what really does work?
"Aging is not a disease, otherwise living would be a disease, but you can't make money off satisfaction." -Ashton Applewhite
First of all, aging isn’t a disease that needs to be “cured”. As author Ashton Applewhite would say, aging is living. And it doesn't have to be a state of decline to be dreaded and avoided.
If any solution is touting itself as the ultimate...
We’ve all been there before. It’s the start of a new year, so you set some lofty goals for the year. You tell yourself it’s finally your time, you can be a whole new you. Then you start out full force, overhauling every aspect of your life.
But then comes the end of January. And that initial enthusiasm is starting to fizzle. Sound familiar?
I see this cycle in my clinic day in and day out. One of the most difficult aspects of my work as a physical therapist is helping my clients maintain motivation to meet their health goals.
The cycle almost always looks the same. When someone first adopts any new health practice, there is initial positive progress. And then a plateau. Which is normal.
And this is when it gets tough. Plateaus happen on our way toward reaching any goal. And they make us want to stop because the effort to change doesn’t seem to amount to anything. But the only way to get past the plateau is to keep moving forward.
“One of the most interesting study findings has to do with attitudes toward aging itself. Young middle-aged people (in their forties and fifties) with positive feelings about growing older- gaining wisdom, freedom from working, opportunities to travel and learn more- tended to enjoy better health, and better cognitive health later in life.” — Bill Gifford
I spend a lot of my day talking about how our attitudes impact our aging and health. Coming from a young person, I get a lot of dirty looks and people telling me I don't understand reality.
But this isn’t just some delusional thinking coming from what I would like aging to be. No. Our attitudes and beliefs influencing our health as we age are actually backed by research.
The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging is the longest-running study we have on aging today. It’s produced a huge volume of data that’s been sifted through by researchers to develop a...
Have you been told your persistent pain is due to “wear and tear” of your joints? That because you have arthritis you can expect to be in pain for the rest of your life? Or it’s because of your “poor posture?”
Unfortunately, these beliefs are all too common and pervasive even in the medical community. And holding on to these beliefs will prevent you from finally breaking through your pain.
I’m here to dispel these common myths of pain, tissue damage, and aging. And we’ll also cover three simple steps you can take to manage your pain. The reality is your pain is not due to “wear and tear” and you don’t have to accept living in pain for the rest of your life.
To illustrate the point here are a few facts about tissue damage and pain (from the Recovery Strategies Pain Guidebook):
“Mobility is the key to survival: this came up again and again in my research.” -Bill Gifford
The medical field of aging is relatively new. It wasn’t until the last century that we saw an exponential increase in human life expectancy and as a result, we’ve only just started to study aging. And there is still a lot of gray area. One thing we know for sure is that there is huge variability in how we age.
And that there is a big difference between lifespan and healthspan. Thanks to modern medicine, we’ve seen a huge increase in lifespan over the last few decades. But unfortunately, that increase in lifespan doesn’t always accompany an increase in quality of life.
And this is where healthspan comes in. Healthspan is how many healthy years we can add to someone’s life. Because really, what’s the point of adding extra years if you can’t enjoy them?
Much of the findings of studies on aging have been...
I was listening to a podcast the other day related to business and there was one statement on the dangers of adopting a victim mentality that stuck with me.
“If you have a victim mentality, you’ll only get victim results”. -Mignon Francois
This can be applied to any area of our life, including health. And we are all guilty of adopting a victim mentality at one point or another. One of the most common pitfalls I see others making when it comes to health is holding onto this mentality with a death grip.
The reality is you’ll get out of your health what you’re willing to put in. And investing in yourself means admitting that you have control over your circumstances. This starts with shedding victimhood.
You would never expect your retirement account to grow if you aren’t making incremental investments over time. If you feel like a victim of the system you probably wouldn’t start investing in the first place. And you can’t expect your...
My years as a physical therapist specializing in helping older adults age well have given me insight into the daily habits all healthy people have in common (and all the habits unhealthy people have in common, but that’s a story for another day).
The reality is, their habits have more to do with their mindset than any specific approach they take to their health.
I’ve seen healthy people who lift, run, or have no formal movement practice. Some are yogis and some swear by Tai Chi. Some are vegetarians while others are keto or low carb.
So if the answer to health doesn’t lie in a specific approach, then where can you find it?
It’s all about the ways in which you view the world and what you have control over. Health stems from a mindset.
Here are the 7 habits all healthy people have in common:
"The less convenient, the more it pays." -Seth Godin
You can’t be healthy unless you’re willing to experience discomfort....