Aging well and avoiding injuries as we age

Published 10:12am Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Most of us know of an elderly person who continues to amaze us by living alone, remaining active and continuing to be in reasonably good health.
For many people, living longer is taken for granted, but in most cases there is what Dr. Nicholas DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon calls, “… a mismatch between longevity and durability, and durability is the issue we’ve ignored for the most part.”
There are a combination of factors that contribute to longevity including durability and life quality.
We can all take preventive steps to avoid injuries whether at home, at work or while pursuing activities that keep us fit and active.
Follow these simple steps to stay safe and to add years of enjoyable living to your life.
For a safer home, it is
recommended that older adults:
Have handrails securely attached on both sides of steps and stairways.
Secure throw rugs and area rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.
Be sure that there is adequate lighting throughout the home, and that it is used when walking.
To make doors easier to open, replace doorknobs with lever handles for easy use.
Issues of aging and durability aren’t just for our older seniors. Today, the fastest growing segment of the population seeking and receiving replacement knees, hips and shoulders is the boomer population.
The reasons are: 1) many boomers are obese, and that extra weight is stressing out their body parts, particularly joints, and 2) a number of boomers are pushing the fitness craze with running, tennis and a wide range of weekend sports that result in injuries and/or the wearing out of their hips, knees and shoulders.
The benefits to those who choose fitness over obesity are many, and if surgery or replacement is needed, the more fit recipients tend to recover more quickly.
Here are some of  Dr. DiNubile’s suggestions for staying fit and injury free as you age:
Stay active to improve your quality of life. Being a couch potato is not an option you can live with.
Take time to warm up and gently stretch before engaging in hard exercise. Warming up means breaking a sweat and getting your cardio level up with calisthenics or on a stationary bike.
Once warmed up, stretch the whole body, including your back, not just the muscles you’ll be using most. This helps to avoid some minor injuries and muscle strains.
Be sure your workout includes equal amounts of cardio activity, flexibility exercises, abdominal muscle or core work and overall strength or resistance training to work the entire body. Heavy weights are not necessary, but consistency of the training regimen is critical.
Take your time as you start or increase your level of exercise activity, particularly if you are older or haven’t worked out in some time.
Give your body time to adjust to the new demands.
Provide your body with proper nutrition and allow time to rest for muscles to recover.
Working out seven days a week is excessive, even if you vary sports and muscle group use. Your body needs time to recover, and as you age rest is a critical component of your total fitness.
While no one can promise you a longer, healthier life, following these simple rules can certainly improve your odds of adding years with more quality and enjoyment to your lifespan.

Ron Kauffman is a geriatric consultant and planner, and certified senior advisor. He is the author of Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease, available at www.seniorlifestyles.net, where you can also listen to his weekly podcasts. He can be reached at 561-818-0039 or by email at drron561@gmail.com

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