I know. I wondered too. Is it farther or further? Anyone who lives beyond 50 is certainly further down the road. And that’s why it’s vital that people in this category learn strategies to help them live longer and healthier. Thus the title!
October was National Physical Therapy Month. The theme delivered by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) was “Move Forward: Physical Therapy Brings Motion to Life.” Ultimately, the brand for our direction is to restore and improve motion with the long term goal of improving quality of life.
For our 50 plus group, I’d like you to consider that “motion is anti-aging!” We take this for granted. . . until we lose it! Physical therapsits are experts in the way the body moves, so we can help improve people’s quality of life by helping them move freely so they can do the things they want to do (and for many many more years) without pain and discomfort.
The week of September 20th was Fall Prevention Week, and September 23rd was Fall Prevention Awareness Day. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of injuries, some being fatal injuries in people over age 65. In the U.S. we spend $19 million dollars annually for related injuries and rehabilitation.
Falls can often be prevented and controlled. Perhaps medications need to be adjusted. Consider clearing clutter around the house, including power cords and throw rugs. Change to a wider platform style shoe. Address weakness, vision, and fear. Fear? That’s right. Fear of falling is itself a major cause of falls.
When balance slides away, so does life’s quality. In fact, starting with fear, there are the “5 F’s” that I have defined, which show how balance problems can become a literal slippery slope.
Fear of falling must be addressed to prevent falls. Falling is often synonymous with a loss of independence for aging adults, and that fear often keeps them from both reporting problems and seeking help.
Fatigue is the term I use to describe a person who holds back from normal activities due to fear of falling. Soon they become deconditioned and end up with muscle weakness, reduced stamina, and impaired bone health. Eventually, this group becomes “frail.”
Fall is a scary term, especially for a person who has become fatigued and frail. Because a fall in this population of people can lead to the next “F,” a fracture.
Fracture is a major result of many falls, particularly in those whose bones are not in optimal health. In fact, when a frail person falls and breaks a hip, the result can lead quickly to the 5th F, failure.
Failure occurs in many frail individuals who fracture their hip. Their body has to work extra hard to heal the broken bone. It taxes their system to the point they die.
Balance problems often sneak up on people. So it’s important when there is any question about your balance. Have a physical therapist test it. If it’s off, the physical therapist can help you optimize your balance. Sometimes, you can get a home program that you can practice and get good results.
A second piece to the balance puzzle is functional strength. To help with this, please view my brand new video on intensity training. Of course, be sure to check with your healthcare provider prior to starting a new exercise program if you haven’t already been involved in an exercise program.
In conclusion, now’s the time to maximize your health and longevity. Take the next step. Contact us at Alpine Physical Therapy and schedule an appointment with one of our 11 therapists. We’ll assess your balance and strength and get you started on a safe and helpful strategy for getting your balance. . . and your life back. Call us at 251-2323 or 541-2606. Or visit our website at www.AlpinePTmissoula.com.
Brent Dodge is the founding owner of Alpine Physical Therapy and is a board certified orthopedic specialist. He holds additional certifications in Functional Dry Needling, Manual Physical Therapy, and Strength and Conditioning.
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