Each month we will feature another topic related to gerontology and geriatrics:
This month's blogspot is written by: Rosemary Gallagher, PT, DPT, GCS and Veronica Southard, PT, DHS, GCS, Department of Physical Therapy, New York Institute of Technology.
Are you noticing you are not as steady as you used to be? Have you been holding on to the rail while climbing the stairs, or sitting down when you put your socks on? Or because you or a friend fell, do you now avoid certain activities because you are afraid to fall?
What is a fall? The definition of a fall, according to the American Geriatrics Society, is an event whereby an individual unexpectedly comes to rest on the ground or another lower level without known loss of consciousness1. Here are some facts for you; more than 1 out of 3 adults over the age of 65 fall each year in the U.S. Twenty to 30% of people who fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head trauma. Injuries from falls can limit mobility and independent living2.
Falling and the fear of falling as you age should not be accepted as a normal part of aging! The causes of falls can be found and addressed. So how do you know if you are at risk for falling? Well, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances of falling. They include; muscle weakness, vision problems, dizziness, foot problems, taking multiple medications, and having difficulty with walking or having balance problems3. Sometimes people fall because their house layout is really putting them at risk.
What can I do to decrease my risk of falling? Examples of proven strategies include exercises to improve strength, flexibility and balance; education about fall injury reduction, and medication management; and changes to your home to make it a safer place to live such as installing hand rails on outside stairs, removing throw rugs that can cause you to trip and fall, and removing electrical wires that may present a tripping hazard3.
How do I get more information on fall prevention? Check with your local Senior or Community Center, they usually have programs in place to address this topic, the YMCA also offers programs. If you feel you need to address your medications or have vision problems, check with your primary care doctor. If you feel you have decreased balance and would like a more thorough balance screening, check with your local physical therapist. You can find out more information on this topic on the American Physical therapy Association Website at www.APTA.org4.
- The American Geriatrics Society. AGS/BGS Clinical Practice Guideline: Prevention of Falls in Older Persons (2010).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Panel on Prevention of Falls in Older Persons. Summary of the Updated American Geriatrics Society/British Geriatrics Society Clinical Practice Guideline for Prevention of Falls in Older Persons. American Geriatrics Society/British Geriatric Society.
- American Physical Therapy Association
This month's blogspot is written by: Tobi Abramson and Maria Gerard, NYIT Center for Gerontology and Geriatrics.
Older Americans Month is celebrated every May as a way to recognize and honor older Americans for the numerous contributions they make to our communities, society at large, and to our families. Since 1963 Older Americans Month has been celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities. Every year the Administration on Aging (AOA) releases a theme to help plan for activities that might take place in May or throughout the year. The theme of this year’s celebration is Never Too Old to Play, encouraging older Americans to stay engaged, active, and involved in their own lives and in their communities. Celebrating Older Americans Month highlights and acknowledges the important role older adult’s play in sharing their experience, wisdom, and understanding, and passing on that knowledge to other generations in a variety of significant ways. Current trends show that people over the age of 60 account for an ever-growing percentage of participants in community service positions, faith-based organizations, online social networking as well as in the arts and recreational groups. Older adults are not the only ones who benefit from their involvement and engagement in community life. Their interactions with family, friends, and neighbors across generations enrich the lives of everyone involved. Young people who have significant relationships with a grandparent or an older adult report that these relationships helped shape their values, goals, and life choices and gave them a sense of identity and roots. Older Americans Month is a great opportunity to show special appreciation for some of our most beloved citizens. We have many reasons to celebrate them!
Join NYIT’s Center for Gerontology and Geriatrics in celebrating older adults. As part of Older Americans Month we are proud to showcase those older adults aging with vitality. Members of the NYIT community have nominated those older adults who represent engagement and vitality as they enter this phase of the life course. Please visit the Center’s website at www.nyit.edu/geriatrics and click on the Vitality in Aging link to help us recognize and acknowledge those around us who are showing us what aging is about.