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...
“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...
“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....
It's a great time to start to talk about health goal-setting for the new year. So I'm here to share the 5 step process I use to set my annual goals.
Full disclosure: I'm not a fan of traditional New Year's resolutions. They set most of us up for failure and we have a bad habit of using them to shame ourselves. If this sounds like you, read on to learn what to do instead. I'll be sharing what I do to start the new year off right and reach my biggest goals.
I recommend setting aside 30 minutes to an hour to think this through and write it down on paper. Continue to review these monthly throughout the year using a shortened version of what we're doing today.
One of the most important and overlooked aspects of goal-setting is to start off by listing off what you did well over the last year. This way you don't start the process of goal setting off by shaming yourself or thinking that you need...
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.