Active Senior Living

Simple strategies to help fend off disease and illness and promote an active, independent lifestyle.

Walking Reduces Fall Risk, May Shorten Recovery From Physical Disabilities

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Walking improves balances, strengthens muscles, reduces fall risk, and lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Walking improves balances, strengthens muscles, reduces fall risk, and lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis.

It happens in an instant and a life can be changed forever. A fall. For older adults, falls are a top cause of disability. So how do we prevent falls or make them a lot less likely to occur? It can be as easy as adopting a regular routine of walking.

Walking or engaging in some other form of moderate physical activity on a regular basis helps older adults remain mobile longer and may help them recover faster from physical disabilities, according to a study published recently in Annals of Internal Medicine.

In the study, 1,600 sedentary adults ages 70 to 89 were divided into two groups, with one group receiving ongoing health education classes that included upper-body stretching exercises and the other group participating in a structured exercise program several days a week that included walking and some strength, flexibility, and balance training.

Researchers assessed both groups over a period of three-and-a-half years. The new study concludes that people in the exercise group reduced the amount of time spent suffering from major disability by 25 percent, compared with people in the health education group. People in the exercise group also appeared less likely to experience disability in the first place, and more likely to recover if they did.

5 Main Benefits of Walking

Walking is the most popular form of exercise among older adults and it’s a great choice, reports HealthinAging.org. Their website features advice for seniors who are starting an exercise program, as well as the five biggest benefits of walking, which are:

*Strengthen muscles

*Help prevent weight gain

*Lower risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis

*Improve balance

*Lower the likelihood of falling

Always consult your health care provider before starting an exercise program.


Feeling Dizzy? It May Be Vertigo

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If you feel like the world is spinning around you when there's no actual movement, ask your doctor about vertigo.

If you feel like the world is spinning around you when there’s no actual movement, ask your doctor about vertigo.

Vertigo is a feeling that you or your surroundings are moving when there is no actual movement. You may feel as though you are off balance, spinning, whirling, falling, or tilting. When you have severe vertigo, you may feel very nauseated or vomit. You may have trouble walking or standing, and you may lose your balance and fall, reports WebMD.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is a problem with the nerves and structure of the inner ear that causes you to have those feelings of “vertigo”.

BPPV is associated with feelings of vertigo when you move a certain way (such as turning your head, standing up, rolling over in bed or lying down). You might also feel nauseous (sick to your stomach) at the same time. The nausea and dizziness go away in a few seconds. BPPV is bothersome, but it’s rarely serious, according to FamilyDoctor.org.

The following Q & A is courtesy of FamilyDoctor.org.

What Causes Vertigo?

Your inner ear contains tiny calcium particles that help you keep your balance. Normally, these particles are distributed evenly in the inner ear’s 3 canals. When you move your head, the calcium particles stimulate nerve cells inside the canals. The nerve cells then send your brain a signal telling it which direction your head is moving.

Sometimes, the particles can break loose and clump together in one of the canals. When this happens, the nerve cells tell your brain that your head has moved more than it actually has. This incorrect signal results in vertigo.

BPPV is most often associated with aging, but it can also occur after you hit your head.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your doctor may suspect BPPV if you feel dizzy when you move your head or body in certain ways. He or she will conduct a physical exam and ask you about your symptoms.

How Is It Treated?

Your doctor can show you some easy head movements to help move the particles out of the inner ear canals and into areas where they will not cause episodes of vertigo. Doing these movements can stop the symptoms and may keep the dizziness from coming back. Your doctor may also give you medicine to treat the nausea and dizziness.


5 Life Events To Make You Revisit Your Health Care Wishes

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Make sure a copy of your revised advance directive gets filed in your medical records, especially if you’re planning on entering an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Make sure a copy of your revised advance directive gets filed in your medical records, especially if you’re planning on entering an assisted living facility or nursing home.

The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging suggests that you re-examine your health care wishes whenever any of the following “five d‘s” occurs:

1.     Decade: When you start each new decade of your life.

2.     Death: When you experience the death of a loved one.

3.     Divorce: When you experience a divorce or other major family change. (In many states, a divorce automatically revokes the authority of a spouse who had been named as agent.)

4.     Diagnosis: When you are diagnosed with a serious medical problem.

5.     Decline: When you experience a significant decline or deterioration from an existing health condition, especially when it diminishes your ability to live independently.

Once your new document has been signed, make sure anyone with a copy of your old directive returns it to you so you can destroy it. Then distribute the new one. Take the time to discuss the changes with your doctor and your health care agent to be sure everyone is clear on what has changed. Make sure a copy of your revised advance directive gets filed in your medical records, especially if you’re planning on entering an assisted living facility or nursing home. A growing number of states are creating medical registries in which you may record your directive so that it will be directly available to health care providers when needed.

If you move to another state, check that your advance directives are still valid. Although states may be legally required to honor any advance directive that clearly conveys your wishes, it’s best to verify that your form meets the requirements specific to that state.