9 Ways To Stay Healthy And Reduce Your Fall Risk In Retirement
Aging is inevitable, but it doesn't mean you have to FEEL old, struggle with your mobility or constantly worry about your health in retirement.
By staying fit and healthy, not only will you have more energy and enjoy later life, but you will also massively reduce your fall risk in retirement which is a huge concern for seniors.
Our expert physical therapy team, who've worked with hundreds of seniors to help them feel stronger, stay active and safer on their feet, have put together this blog containing 9 ways to stay healthy and reduce your fall risk in retirement.
#1 Get Great Sleep
To feel energised, make sure that you have good sleep habits.
Our most active retiree patients tell us that they wake up at the same time each day, and the research supports this strategy as your body thrives on a regular sleeping pattern.
Other tips to get great sleep include only go to bed when sleepy, and if you can't sleep, getting out of bed for a short while.
You should also try and sleep an appropriate amount (current guidelines by the CDC states 7-9 hours for 61-64 year olds, and 7-8 hours for 65 and older).
If you have recently retired, you may find that you have a lot more free time and there may be a temptation to nap during the day whilst your family and friends are busy at work, school or other activities. However, don't excessively nap as this will have an impact on your sleep overnight.
Finally, avoid caffeine and nicotine close to bed time and don’t use alcohol to fall asleep as this will disturb your sleep quality.
#2 Stay Hydrated
Drink water which is essential to keep your body running at its best. Drink regularly throughout the day and aim for at least eight 8 oz. glasses.
If you don't like the taste of water, opt for a sugar free cordial, or add some fresh citrus fruit for flavour.
#3 Stop Smoking/Vaping
It is important to stop smoking, as this causes damage to your skin and tissues. If you want to avoid looking older as you age, stopping smoking could help.
It also decreases the oxygen levels in your blood which has multiple negative effects on your body. This prevents you from being able to be as active and can stall recovery from injuries.
It is proven that smoking causes damage to lung tissue as well.
#4 Exercise Regularly
Exercise has an array of benefits that cause a decreased risk of other health conditions such as dementia, cancer, type II diabetes and falls.
Daily activity, also helps with weight control, handling stress, improving mood, and increases your chances of living longer.
Another big benefit of exercise is that it improves your strength, balance and co-ordination which are key to reducing your fall risk in retirement.
It is recommended you moderately exercise at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week.
#5 Use Caution When Drinking Alcohol
A lot of patients we work with enjoy a cold beer, or glass of wine with friends at the weekend, and we understand alcohol is something people enjoy.
However, the key with alcohol is moderation. It is recommended to have no more than seven drinks a week, or no more than three drinks any given day.
Heavy drinking can cause many different issues such as liver damage, dementia and skin aging. However, as your body changes its ability to absorb and process foods and liquids your tolerance is lower and hangover effects are felt longer.
Alcohol consumption can also affect memory, leaving you more susceptible to forget, and it has a greater effect on your ability to move and react. This can cause an increase in your fall risk.
#6 Understand Your Pain Medication
Pain medications can cause many unwanted side effects and is one of the reasons our Lexington clinic is so busy as people seek non-medicated ways to reduce stiff joints, aching muscles and recover from injuries faster.
The side effects vary but can include nervousness, seizures, depression, dependence, constipation, and increased fall risk.
Unfortunately, people are often given pain medication at the first opportunity by their doctors even though there are much safer research backed solutions such as Physical Therapy.
Do NOT stop taking or change any medication without consulting with your doctor first.
#7 A Healthy Diet
Similar to alcohol, we appreciate that people enjoy foods that aren't necessarily the healthiest; whether that's candy, burgers or pizza.
However, if you want to have energy, stay healthy and feel great in retirement, the majority of your daily diet should be balanced with fruits and vegetables, whole grains and appropriate amounts of protein.
Sometimes jaw pain and issues with your teeth can make it difficult to eat some of these foods, so be sure to try softer foods. Some examples of these could be canned tuna, yogurt, mashed sweet potato, low sodium soups and canned fruit packed in natural juices.
Also, check with your doctor about supplementing with a multi-vitamin to make sure you are not missing out on what your body needs.
#8 Stay Engaged
In retirement, a large part of your daily life has stopped - work.
And for some seniors, it can be difficult to adjust and find something meaningful and enjoyable to do which can lead to depression, which in turn can lead to becoming isolated.
A great way to combat this is to volunteer, or work part time, with causes that are important to you. This is good for your mental health along with physical health.
Volunteering or working on projects with others helps improve mood, prevents loneliness, and decreases your risk of high blood pressure.
Often these activities require your physical participation which requires you to be active which helps you maintain your strength, balance and co-ordination (all important factors in reducing your fall risk in retirement).
These activities also connect you with other people who you often share similar values, hobbies or interests with. The more social interactions you have, the better you feel and the longer you live.
Staying engaged can give you the opportunities to help you try new things and leave a legacy for the next generation. On top of all these reasons, it is enjoyable and fun.
#9 Staying Active
To reduce your fall risk in retirement, it is important to continue to be active: Get up, move around, go outside, get fresh air, go shopping with your friends.
Don’t let the things you used to love to do fall by the wayside, as they can help you stay motivated, energised and happy in retirement.
If you are struggling to do the hobbies you enjoyed because of aches and pains, our physical therapy team can help - whether that's back, knee, neck or shoulder pain, our team can provide non-surgical, drug-free pain relief so you can stay active without pain.
Arrange a free balance assessment in our Lexington clinic to find out whether physical therapy is right for you, and the best option to help you easing those aches that are stopping you from the things you love to do.
How To Stay Active And Reduce Your Fall Risk In Retirement
Because so many people are suffering with balance and falls problems in later life - we have created our popular Fall Prevention program to help people struggling with this problem.
The Fall Prevention program is specifically designed to help you get back to living life on your feet and find out the root cause of why you’re not as steady on your feet as you once were.
If you are scared of falling in later life, and want to improve your balance, regain your confidence and prevent falls at home, give me a call at 859-303-6393. We are open and meeting all CDC and State Guidelines to care for you in person or through our online home visits.
Don't let a fear of falls get in the way of living your life independently and enjoying your retirement.