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...
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A few weeks ago I stumbled across a copy of the book Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever by Bill Gifford. I keep a running list of books related to health and aging, but this one wasn’t on my list and caught my eye. I’m so happy I picked it up. The comprehensive information in the book blew me away. I will summarize a little bit below but I highly recommend picking up a copy.
The author of the book, Bill Gifford, is a journalist who became curious about aging after watching the very different aging trajectories of his great uncle and his grandfather. How could two siblings live such drastically different lives? His great uncle was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and died in his 70’s while his grandfather lived a very active and playful life, still farming into his 90’s when he suddenly passed...
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend who admitted he felt that everything had gone wrong for him his whole life. Granted, he was having a difficult week and it was overshadowing everything in his life. It was all doom and gloom, and as I was listening I realized he wasn’t looking at his life through the right lens.
When I asked him to list at least one thing that had gone well for him, he was at a loss. He said there wasn’t anything he could think of. So I pointed out that he was happily married, with two healthy young children, and had recently moved into a new home his family loved. He sat there quietly for a moment and I saw his demeanor change instantly. The reality set in that he would never be happy with anything he accomplished in his life if he hadn’t been able to acknowledge the things he was grateful for first.
It’s likely you’ve already heard about the benefits of a gratitude practice. Research has found that people with a regular...
The other day I was browsing through the comments in a Facebook group of women over the age of 50 discussing fitness. One caught my eye, and it’s not because it was the first time I had read the sentiment being expressed.
It was a woman frustrated with the amount of conflicting information coming at her from the diet and fitness industry. She couldn't decide where to start. Keto or intermittent fasting? Should I buy books on these approaches? What are macros? What fitness program should I follow? CrossFit or Orange Theory?
The underlying issue was too much information to make a decision. The overwhelm in her plea was clear. And within the comment, she also mentioned feeling the need to purchase a bunch of equipment and supplements before she could even get started.
And therein lies the problem. Our lack of health isn't due to a lack of information. Instead, information overwhelm leads us down a path of not taking action. And that is the most dangerous path of all.
How much time do you spend thinking about how you move throughout the day? If you're not getting the health results you want as you age, your movement is likely a huge factor!
Movement really comes down to a matter of convenience. Today, moving more to accomplish daily tasks is viewed as an inconvenience.
We now have access to devices serving the sole purpose of making our lives easier, from electronic kitchen appliances, to phones, to vehicles. These devices externalize the work of our muscles, effectively outsourcing the work of our body. And we tend to rely more and more on these devices as we age.
“Upgrading” our products results in doing less work throughout the day. This is promoted by advertisers as a sign of status, progress, and luxury. A device that results in less work is the ultimate end goal and this message is thrown at us from every direction.
However, these "conveniences" come with a major downside...
Humans were intended to move. Our movement...