Question: As I get older, I notice more trouble getting in and out of my chair and feel like I’m “slowing down”. My friends and family say this is a normal part of aging. Is that true? What can I do to help?
Answer: Unfortunately, this is common, but it is not normal. As we get older, our muscles get weaker faster and we start to notice increased difficulty with daily activities. This just means that we must be mindful of increasing our activity level and staying active! Some things that you can do are going for frequent walks throughout the day with a buddy, standing up and sitting down five times every commercial break and limiting the amount of time you are being sedentary. Some fun, active activities that you may try include planting a garden or flower pots, checking with your community for group exercise class
Question: In the last few years, I’ve noticed that my balance doesn’t seem to be like it used to be. In the last few months, I’ve even had a few falls. I’m scared to walk as much as I used to now for fear of falling. What can I do to prevent these falls?
Answer: It is normal that aging causes changes in gait and balance; however, we can help slow down these changes by putting in the effort. Fear of falling can actually contribute to future falls because if you stop being active, you can lose overall muscle strength leading to a higher risk for falls. One option to prevent these falls is to schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist who can evaluate you for strength and balance and help provide you with exercises and strategies to keep you strong and safe. Another great option is to find a “Better Bones and Balance Class” or a Tai Chi class that may be offered in your area. Participating in these classes is not only wonderful for your strength and balance, but also a great way to get more involved in the community. Looking into falls prevention programs is so important to your future health. Almost 29% of older adults aged 65+ reported a fall in the last year. That’s over 1 in 4 older adults! Sadly, each year 800,000 people are hospitalized due to a fall. Risk factors for falls not only include aging and changes in gait and balance, but also a sedentary lifestyle, reduced muscle strength, impaired vision and hearing, lightheadedness, and medications. Talk to your primary care provider or physical therapist to see how you can get involved in a falls prevention program.