In April 2016 the health writer Jane Brody wrote a powerful essay in the New York Times Personal Health column, Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond. She described the importance of focusing, as we age, on a healthy life style and maintaining social relationships as well as adjusting to age-related physical changes that occur. Brody specifically noted that we need to make individual adjustments to reduce the risk of falls.
All-in-all, the article, mostly focused on women, but much also applicable to men, encouraged people to think in all sorts of ways about what they can do to stay as healthy and strong as possible as aging progresses.
I am still a distance from age 70, yet Brody’s New York Times article offered a wake-up call — reminding me to think about my own aging and any potential issues. I thought a lot about the things we have already done in our own house to prevent falling problems and considered what else we might do. And then, a few weeks later, I fell.
The article describes a number of tests that can evaluate whether a person is prone to falling. An aging parent should perform them with a physician or physical therapist, who can go through the series of steps and safely evaluate whether or not a person is likely to fall. Physically fit adult children can probably experiment — carefully — at home with some of these tests. The Washington Post article explains them in detail, so I’ve just listed the tests below, and I’ve also linked several of the tests to videos. Continue reading →
The line on each bar illustrates the margin or error. Statisticians call this a confidence interval.
I’ve just finished reading Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation, uploaded a few hours ago on the New York Times website. Long time readers of this blog, AsOurParentsAge, know that I’ve been keenly interested in falls, and I’ve written about them often (see a list of links at the end of this post). My husband’s parents experienced some terrible falls, and one lead within to my father-in-law’s death a month or so afterward.
The Times article, by Katie Hafner, datelined in San Francisco, describes the increasing frequency of elder falls and the challenges presented, principally in one community for older adults. This is a long and detailed article, periodically quoting elder experts in the field and highlighting that many older adults, even the parents of some of these experts, continue to reject canes, walkers, and other supports that offer them greater balance. The report includes several excellent graphics. Continue reading →
In light of my most recent post (April 23, 2013) about the effect of music during my parents’ Bible study sessions, I am reposting this blog post describing an article about music, eurhythmics, and elders.
The article points out that most seniors’ falls occur when people are performing concurrent tasks and that “each year more than a third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall.” The Swiss medical researchers wondered whether participation in a music-based program involving concurrent tasks of movement and music might have a positive effect on the factors that can cause a fall — gait and balance — thereby reducing the frequency of falls.
The music activity they chose for their research is eurhythmics, a program of music education that combines music and movement, developed by composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva in the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, at least not from my perspective as a college music major and life-long very amateur musician, people who participated in six months of Dalcroze eurhythmics reduced both the rate and the risk of falling by the end of the program compared to a control group that did not take the class but carried on with life as usual. When the control group subsequently took the class for six months, the researchers found the same results.
Who knew that when we installed all sorts of grab bars and railings in our house — intended to help our elder parents — they would be useful to me years before retirement?
From the NIH ADAM Encyclopedia
I am using these accommodations all the time just now because I have a cataract, and those relative small but important changes in our house are coming in handy.
My cataract is not caused by aging. In the spring of 2012, about seven months ago, a detached retina required immediate surgery. I wrote about my experiences to provide clear and objective reports about the process of retinal surgery and my recovery.
My surgeon performed a vitrectomy, successfully correcting the problem and maintaining my vision, but he warned me ahead of time that a side-effect of the surgery is the development of a cataract. I say side-effect rather than complication because almost everyone who gets this type of surgery develops a cataract. Sure enough, about three months after my surgery I began to develop one.