Tips for preventing and treating injuries as you age – The Oakland Press
“Head, shoulders, knees and toes”, goes the traditional children’s song. Teachers and family taught us how important our bodies are and how bones work together from the start. As parents, we may have later danced the dance with our children, patting each end with joy and wonder. However, we unfortunately find now, years later, that there is one or more of those parts that no longer work as they once did when we were younger.
Or we are simply more susceptible to diseases or injuries due to age.
Millions of people aged 55 and over go to hospital each year for a musculoskeletal injury, with the majority being admitted and falls listed as the leading cause.
In April 2021, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 700,000 people died from falls worldwide, with adults over the age of 60 suffering the most. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 20 million adults in the United States over the age of 65 suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease primarily affecting the hands, hips and knees. Data shows that people with arthritis are 2.5 times more likely to fall.
With stats this high, Next Avenue spoke with medical experts to find out how to reduce your risk of injury or avoid making an underlying condition worse.
1. Look below
Before beginning any new exercise regimen, Dr. Michael Stuart, orthopedic surgeon and professor of orthopedics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says, “You should first be seen by your primary care physician, your physiotherapist or an orthopaedist”.
This is especially important for making an accurate diagnosis and developing a program that works for you if you have unexplained or persistent pain. Often you might feel discomfort in one part of your body, only to learn that it’s coming from an area you hadn’t considered.
Amy Davis, 59, of Fort Wayne, Ind., recently completed total knee replacement (TKA) surgery and can relate to this advice. “I thought the pain in my knees was from pinched nerves in my back, but the X-rays showed bone on bone on my right knee and almost the same on my left knee,” Davis says.
When meeting with your doctor, also ask if you are a candidate for a bone density test. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends you get one if you’re a postmenopausal woman and recently broke a bone, or a man over 50. A doctor will need to order this non-invasive test for you.
2. Keep fit
“The best thing a person can do is maintain physical fitness to avoid a fall or injury,” says Dr. Molly Jarman, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a senior fellow at the department’s Center for Surgery and Public Health. of Brigham’s surgery. and Boston Women’s Hospital.
By being both strong and coordinated, you’re less likely to fall, and if you do, you can heal faster.
“You have to remember that the body design we’re working with is meant to break down and be impermanent,” says Dr. Andrew Grose, orthopedic trauma surgeon at Stamford Hospital for Special Surgery in Connecticut. He recommends focusing on three critical areas. for fitness: muscle building, flexibility and balance.
“There’s good evidence that strength training is essential for people over forty. You don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, but you have to maintain muscle mass,” Grose said.
Tai chi (proven to have medical benefits), yoga, walking, and the elliptical are all ways to improve your balance. And be sure to stretch gently to stay flexible.
3. Be aerobic
Regular aerobic exercise includes swimming, brisk walking, jogging, or cycling, all of which provide cardiovascular conditioning known to improve heart health, blood circulation, and lung capacity by fueling muscles to move and burn more fuel.
Another benefit, according to the Mayo Clinic, is that your body releases endorphins that promote “an increased sense of well-being.”
Check the recommended exercise guidelines on health.gov.
4. Maintain weight
“Managing your weight contributes to good health now and as you age,” according to the CDC. While many orthopedic problems are genetic or due to an acute injury, joint problems can result from the added stress and inflammation of the knees, hips, or even hands.
5. Be safe
Because falls most often happen inside or near your home, here are some ways to protect your environment from accidents:
• Eliminate tripping hazards. Secure area rugs with masking tape and make sure the carpet does not fray.
Put things away. Reduce obstacles by putting things back where they belong.
Install night lights. Add light in hallways and bathrooms to see where you are going in the middle of the night.
• Wear appropriate footwear. Make sure your feet are supported by shoes that match the activity. And if you have any questions, consult your doctor or physical therapist to find out which ones are right for you. Also invest in non-slip socks if you have hardwood or slippery floors, or if you walk barefoot.
• MIND THE STEP. Limit distractions when walking on sidewalks, paths, or even around your house. And look down to see if there are any bumps, clods, rocks, twigs, branches or other obstacles that could cause you to trip.
6. Check Medications
As people age, they take more and more medications, including over-the-counter medications. Research shows that certain medications, alone or in combination with others, can impact balance and increase the risk of falling.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about this risk for any current or future prescription and non-prescription pills you take.
Sheryl Stillman is a former retail executive turned freelance writer and change management consultant. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics including aging, technology, and solo travel. To learn more, visit sherylonline.com.