Healthy Aging at Home Tips
Seniors can often have acquired several health issues over time that can put them at a greater risk for falling. Each of these issues can negatively impact one another, making it more of a challenge to pinpoint and address.
While some health conditions may be the result of genetic pre-disposition, many are attributed to lifestyle factors which, fortunately, can be improved upon and better managed.
While not an exhaustive list, these are how some of the more common pre-existing health conditions can increase your loved ones' risk for falling.
Anemia - deficiency in consumption/absorption of dietary Iron, Folate and/or Vitamin B12. Decreased oxygen creates fatigue and muscle weakness
Arthritis - stiffness, pain and decreased range of motion contribute to decreased muscle strength and reaction time
Chronic Pain - inflammation and reduced physical activity decrease muscle tone, flexibility and reaction time
Diabetes - peripheral nerve damage can cause loss of sensation, numbness or pain in feet and legs, and impaired kidney function decreases Vitamin D which in turn can lead to loss of bone density and muscle strength
Dizziness - inner ear problem (most common) is often compounded by other issue such as diabetes, osteoporosis and lack of regular exercise
Sensory Disorders - often symptoms of other underlying causes, impaired senses such as vision (cataracts, decreased depth perception, blurred vision), hearing (wax build-up) and balance (dizziness, decreased spatial awareness)
The good news is that most of these problems can be effectively addressed and be considerably minimized if not, in some cases, eliminated. The two biggest components are diet and exercise. The scope of these two areas are too large to be covered in this article, but will be addressed in more detail in the future.
Of course, appropriate medical attention and monitoring is a given. Keep in mind though, that medications can often be the cause of, or contribute further to some of these conditions. A good starting point is to have your loved ones' medications reviewed with their doctor to see if a smaller dose or an alternate version with less side effects is viable.
The more medications an elderly person is on greatly increases the risk for falling as some of their more common side effects include muscle weakness, dizziness, bone loss and sensory impact (ie: blurred vision).
This in itself is a social symptom around the over-medication of seniors, thus we'll further explore how being more proactive with monitoring and managing your loved ones' medications will not only help reduce the risk of falls, but also decrease the risk of complications arising from taking too many drugs. This is a critical first step to improving your loved ones' quality of life.
© Nancy Glover | Aging With Grace www.AgingwithGrace.ca
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Nancy Glover, a healthy aging advocate, mentors extraordinary women and men who have stepped into the challenging role of caring for their elderly spouse or parent by managing their well-being in the later stages of life. Blending first-hand expertise with practical step by step systems to support the needs, goals, and desires of the elderly spouse or parent, Nancy helps caregivers maneuver the complex and often challenging role with supportive advocacy and resources that equally focus on everyone’s well-being. Learn more about her at www.agingwithgrace.ca and sign up to receive timely information and strategies to empower caregivers and families in transition.