Healthy Aging: How to Stay Mobile and Independent

old couple exercising

The most active seniors in the nation live in Utah. Seniors are happy and going about their business — maintaining their independence for almost all of their senior years. Mobility is a significant factor in maintaining independence. The state’s outdoor culture and embrace of healthy lifestyles have limited obesity and weight gain among seniors. Utahns don’t have as many joint problems or pain as the usual senior, but mobility problems can stem from several factors. Maintain your mobility by limiting these factors and stay independent for the rest of your retirement.

Get Your Vision Checked

Accidents are one of the most significant factors in senior mobility loss. Slips and falls can be punishing to old bones and muscles, and injuries can require extended recovery or even be permanent. In the U.S., close 1-in-3 seniors suffer from falls each year, and the chances more than double for seniors with vision problems. A sudden drop or obstacles on the floor can be dangerous if unnoticed, and vertigo becomes more common as one loses vision. Fortunately, almost all cases of vision loss can be prevented or corrected. Most cases of vision loss can be corrected with the right pair of glasses. Cataracts and glaucoma can be treated with minor surgery or lasers. Vision centers are common in Salt Lake City, Provo, and West Valley. While Medicare probably won’t pay for corrective eyeglasses or eye surgery, getting one is better than risking a trip to the hospital for broken bones or worse. Don’t forget to keep the lights on, or proper vision won’t mean a thing. Leave the lights on before it gets dark, or use a timer to turn them on during the late afternoon. Motion-detecting lights are less safe, as you’ll be starting in darkness, and the sudden brightness can be disorienting.

 Avoid Bathroom Accidents

Most accidents happen at home, and 80 percent of the time, they occur in the bathroom. Seniors use the bathroom multiple times a day. Just sitting down and getting up can lead to accidents, especially with weakened knees and balance issues. Hard tiles can make falling more dangerous, and injuries can be more serious. Handrails and supports to and from the toilet should make bathroom trips safer and easier. Supports around or near the toilet are especially important. Having something to hold on should make sitting down and getting up easier on the knees and limit falls due to slips or vertigo. Showers and baths can be difficult and dangerous, but you can still keep yourself clean with a walk-in tub. You enter the tub by opening and closing a door like you would a car. Your feet stay on the ground at all times, making it impossible to slip.

injured woman

Exercise

Bones and muscles deteriorate with age; however, a sedentary lifestyle is also a big factor. Staying at home all day can cause your muscles to atrophy faster compared to staying active. Merely walking 30 minutes a day can keep the muscles and bones in your body primed for action. Physical activity also helps in managing weight. Extra weight can lead to heart conditions, diabetes, kidney problems, cancer, and a host of other diseases and conditions that can leave you bedridden or in constant need of help. Physical activity also prevents or delays the onset of Alzheimer’s. Whether it’s the interaction with people or the activity of your mind as you walk, garden, or go shopping, active seniors are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. If you do your exercise under the morning sun, you’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamin D that fortifies your immune system and allows your body to absorb calcium properly.

Manage Pain

One of the most common reasons seniors stay at home is pain. An aching back or knee can make walking close to impossible, and staying at home a more attractive option. However, pain can be managed or even eliminated. Exercises that focus on balance or strengthen the core like yoga or Tai-Chi can work wonders on the joints and back. A visit to the chiropractor can help relieve back pain or eliminate pain entirely after a few sessions. Medicine works, but your body eventually adapts to the medication, requiring more or higher doses. Opt for more natural and holistic treatments before turning to painkillers.

Maintain your mobility by keeping your muscles and bones primed for action with physical activity. Avoid accidents that can lead to injuries by taking care of your vision and putting safety measures in the most dangerous part of the house.

 

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