In addition to being National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, May is also National Older Americans Month. Over the next few weeks, our nation will be acknowledging and celebrating its older citizens who have greatly contributed to the progress and construct of our current society. In addition to displaying due reverence, we should also make an effort to increase awareness and consideration for the health and safety of our older Americans.
Our health issues and concerns change over time, and this month’s focus encourages us to consider preventative measures against ailments whose likelihoods increase with age. The Academy of Geriatric Physical Therapy has compiled numerous informative brochures related to older age health concerns, some of which offer the following guidelines:
Osteoporosis: since there is a greater risk of its development with increased age, older individuals should be more proactive with preventative measures like increased calcium intake, regular exercise, and avoidance of cigarettes and alcohol.
Exercise: though many older individuals feel that exercise surpasses the capabilities of their bodies, this is entirely untrue! The benefits of exercise happen to increase with age when our bodies most need the maintenance and improvement. Strength and endurance training can be incorporated into daily activities like walking and gardening, and physical therapists can help those who are older find and modify exercise routines according to their needs. Some of the benefits of exercise include improved blood pressure and sugar levels, decreased risks of falling and pain, and improved cognition and motor function.
Falling: with age comes increased risk of falling, but there are simple measures to take against this unfortunate occurrence. Exercise can improve coordination and balance. Eye exams can ensure that an individual is not impaired by decreased eyesight. Homes that are well lit and clear of clutter reduce the risk of falls due to physical obstructions.
Home Construction: though we first think of what can be done to our bodies to safeguard our health, we need to also consider what can be done to our environment. There are basic home alterations that can be made to make the routines of older individuals simpler and more convenience. Examples of such improvements include adjusted shelf and counter heights and installations of step showers and lever style door handles.
To honor the older Americans we cherish, we must consider their needs in regard to safety and health. Take the time not only to be attentive and appreciative, but also aware and considerate of the manner in which safety and health factors evolve with age.