By Joe Longoria, Director of Rehab; Valley Grande Manor Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

With aging comes the potential for losing balance, falling, and subsequent injuries. As we age, the incidence of these types of events increase.

And while they can’t be completely avoided, steps can be taken to reduce the risk. One method of prevention is with exercise programs specifically designed for an individual’s current health and age. But first, let’s take a look at the statistics.

Here are the cold, hard facts from the U.S. Centers for Disease control and Prevention:
• One-third of Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
• Every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
• Falls result in more than 2.5 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 734,000 hospitalizations and more than 21,700 deaths.
• In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion.
• The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
But before starting an exercise regimen, it’s important to follow specific guidelines. Here at Valley Grande Manor, we structure customized programs for each resident. They can involve walking, riding a stationary bike, stretching, light lifting, to name a few. Many can be done from a wheelchair.
But before starting a program, it’s important to following the following steps, offered by www.aging.com, a web site that provides information to the “community of caregivers”.
• Get clearance first – Before you begin, have a check-up and talk with your doctor or healthcare practitioner about any special conditions you might have.
• If something hurts, stop doing it — If you have a persistent pain when you exercise, take a break. If you are sick, you should go easy or skip a few days. When you resume, start slowly again.
• Know that there are some warning signs that mean you should stop what you are doing and consult a doctor:
1. Chest pain or pressure
2. Breathing trouble or excessive shortness of breath
3. Persistent or sharp muscle or joint pain
4. Nausea
5. Unusual balance difficulty
6. Severe illness
• Start Slowly
• Be Comfortable – Wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing, supportive shoes and layers so that you can adjust as your body temperature rises.
• Keep It Easy – Moderation is key, don’t overexert yourself.
• Breathe – Remember to breathe consistently throughout your exercise.
• Hydrate – Drink plenty of water before, during and after your activity.
• Warm Up & Cool Down – Always ease your body into and out of exercise. Walk slowly or stretch for at least 5 minutes.
• Build Up – Gradually increase the time and intensity of your activity. It will become easier as you exercise consistently.
• Mix It Up – Vary the type of activity you do.
• Make It Fun – Get active with friends, listen to music or take up an active hobby to keep it fun and interesting.
Exercise is important for everyone, especially for the elderly and those with health challenges. These programs are an important part of the experience at Valley Grande Manor. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call to discuss.