Thursday, 21 of September of 2017

Category » Preventing Falls

Keep Seniors Safe By Preventing Falls

 

 

As an orthopedic specialist, I am concerned about the prevalence of falls among seniors. Falls are a leading cause of injury and disability for people age 65 and older. Seniors are especially at risk for fracturing their hip, as well as pelvis, shoulder, arm or spine. If the injury is serious enough, surgery may be required, which could require a lengthy recovery time and sometimes, loss of independence.

What causes such a high rate of falls among seniors? Medical factors such as arthritis, osteoporosis, irregular heartbeat and fluctuating blood pressure, as well as dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, vision and hearing loss and urinary dysfunction are often to blame.

But lack of exercise from a sedentary lifestyle is also a factor. Weak muscles, loss of balance and poor condition all contribute to the risk for falling. The key is to stay physically active with regular exercise you enjoy.

Other concerns include side effects from medications, such as dizziness and lethargy. Ask your doctor to periodically review all medications you may be taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies.

It’s also a good to look around your home and see if there are potential hazards that can be easily corrected. Here are several tips from the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition’s Step Wise Lee program to make your home safer.

  • Get rid of small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep rugs stationary and eliminate the chance of slipping on them.
  • Clear all papers, books, clothes and shoes from hallways and stairs.
  • Fix all loose or uneven floors, particularly tile so you don’t trip.
  • Rearrange furniture so you have a clear pathway through halls and rooms.
  • Improve the lighting with brighter wattage light bulbs. Put night-lights in every room.
  • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub or shower. Use non-slip bath mats in the tub or shower
  • Rearrange cabinets so items you use frequently are easy to reach, eliminating the need to use a step stool or chair.
  • Organize lamp, telephone and computer cords and other electrical wires so you don’t have to step over or around them.
  • Wear shoes in the house and outside – avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
  • If your home is more than one level, be sure to have handrails or banisters on all staircases.
  • Consider an alarm device that will call for help if you fall and can’t get up.

Dr. John Kagan has been treating orthopedic-related injuries for more than 30 years. For more information or to schedule a consultation, go to www.kaganortho.com or call 239-936-6778.


Staying Flexible As We Age

As the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) notes, while there may be not be a fountain of youth, staying active through regular exercise that promotes stretching and flexibility can offer many anti-aging benefits. Aerobic activity that raises the heart rate is important for fitness and conditioning, but stretching is just as vital for good health.

Gentle exercise stretches the muscles, reduces tightness and tension, and increases blood flow. It promotes flexibility in the joints, which improves our range of motion and can lessen many common aches and pains. The repetitive motion of exercise also promotes the body’s natural process of lubricating joint surfaces, says the AAOS.

Here are additional reasons why stretching and staying flexible is important no matter what your age.

Regular exercise and stretching helps maintain balance, which reduces the risk of falling.

Exercise stimulates muscle growth, counteracting the tendency to lose muscle mass with age. Muscles that are toned and strong reduce stress on the joints.

Stretching improves the flexibility and elasticity of tendons and ligaments, lowering the risk of sports-related injuries.

Exercise increases bone mass, density and overall strength, which may prevent osteoporosis and decrease the potential for fractures later in life.

When stretching, the Mayo Clinic suggests following proper technique for the best results. Perform a low intensity exercise like brisk walking for five to ten minutes to warm up muscles before stretching, making sure that when you are stretching, you don’t bounce or push it until you feel pain, which can cause small muscle tears. Stretch the calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders – the major muscle groups. And remember to stretch both sides of the body equally.

Not all exercise is equal. The AAOS cautions again being a “weekend warrior.” Fast-paced, competitive activity on the weekends only can do more harm than good and can put you on the path for developing injuries ranging from stress fractures to torn or inflamed tendons and ligaments. It’s much better to take a short time every day for gentle stretching and moderate exercise.

Orthopedic surgeons are doctors who specialize in treating musculoskeletal injuries that affect the bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons, joints and cartilage. Dr. John Kagan has more than 20 years experience treating patients of all ages with orthopedic-related conditions. Learn more about his expertise at www.kaganortho.com.


Preventing Falls

 

Many orthopaedic patients are at an increased risk of falling. I am available to discuss your concerns and how we might help. In addition, I’d like to share some tips for preventing falls:

  • Remove throw rugs or use double-sided tape or non-stick pads under rugs
  • Eliminate clutter in walkways such as cords, wires, shoes, clothes, books, etc.
  • Keep items you regularly use within reach and stored safely in cabinets and drawers
  • Have grab bars installed in showers, bathtubs, next to toilets and in hallways
  • Use non-slip mats in bathtubs and shower floors
  • Have handrails and lights installed on staircases
  • Add nightlights in bathrooms and hallways
  • Wear shoes both inside and outside the house and avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers
  • Schedule an appointment annually to have your vision checked
  • Encourage seniors to participate in regular exercise such as walking or water aerobics to maintain balance and muscle tone
  • Have health care provider review medications

To learn more, our staff and rehabilitation therapists can help. For more information, call 239-936-6778 or visit www.kaganortho.com or http://www.stepwiselee.com/.



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