I have had an opportunity to be interviewed at the Highland Park Cable Show and talk about Safety for Seniors (60+). Please a minute to look at it and hear what I had to say. Thank you.
If you don’t exercise, you won’t live so long or your brain cells will die off leaving you with no short term memory or not being able to recognize your family members when they visit you in the nursing home. (This is somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’ but there is some truth in it). Now I don’t know about you but I’d like the option of being healthy ’till I drop (maybe only suffering a very, very short time as I’ve seen with other active seniors). It’s worth a try as long as you engage your brain and your body perhaps not as much or often as suggested but some effort IS needed.
I have developed a somewhat different approach when it regarding exercise which is catching on in physical therapy centers and being welcomed by seniors and the physically challenged. Not a new idea but an idea with a different slant!
Do you realize that you can keep physically active doing a few daily exercises in bed or on a chair in your own house? The trick is to learn the different exercises that you need for your physical problems. And we all have these-from arthritis in our joints, hands,
neck, etc. How I learned about these exercises through books and mostly
by going to a real good physical therapist (whom your doctor can recommend).
What you need are exercises for your particular problems, number of times and repetitions you need. The idea is to eliminate a lot of gadgets and spend a shorter time exercising to accomplish the same results by targeting specific areas with a focused attention. It could be ten minutes at a time lying in bed morning and night or doing 10-15 squats in the shower ( always holding on)!
There are small squeeze balls and other gadgets which you can work while watching TV for arthritis in your hands and Velcro braces to wear at night available in a surgical supply store to give your hands and wrists a rest. These are especially helpful when your hands or forearms are painful.
I have working on a book “Exercise for Those Who Hate It” incorporating simple movements that help keep your body working such as lying in bed and pretending to bicycle with your legs in the air. I try to do 50 repetitions each leg. If you need to, support your back with your hands under your buttocks.Easy does it!
More exercises to come with sketches.
Also I try to walk 15 minutes or so a few times a week even though I have back pain. Usually I have to rest my back several times during that time (sitting on anything avail-able from a fire hydrant to leaning against a tree. The point is to keep moving! People who give up and stay in bed rather than suffer are not interested in living. Of course this depends on the intensity of the pain and needs to be addressed by their doctor and possibly helped with pain medicine. The underlying issue remains the same however. To be able to function you must ‘USE IT OR LOSE IT’.
My approach has always been not to accept the given but to try and improve it. I am willing to try what is available if sensible, non further damaging, priced reasonably, previously tested. That covers physical therapy, injections, accupunture, non invasive surgery – all medically approved! I listen to what my body is telling me and respect the message. I have tried to understand both western and eastern medical approaches and take from each according to my understanding and needs. My enlighted philosophy has come with age.
When I injured my knee skiing many years ago, I ignored the pain for years until the injections no longer worked. I bit the bullet and suffered through the knee replacement surgery and recovery. But I researched the potential outcome from others who had it, checked carefully which doctor to use before committing. The result was worth it because I got my life back! I didn’t have to watch every step and every curb I had to cross. I even had to repeat it nine months later when the other knee said “good bye” but I know the procedure and outcome and accepted it. Walking without knee pain was a blessing!
It is now years later and I have new issues to deal with (as the back pain previously mentioned ). Getting older is challenging but, I believe, worth hhit!
Do you think about the future? Yours and/or your family’s? Do you want to plan ahead? There are several avenues to pursue. One is financially; but that is not my interest. What concerns me is your safety. The age to address this issue if you are sixty or older or have parents you worry about. No one thinks about safety till you fall down or hurt yourself. The important issues are lighting in kitchens, bathrooms,
entrances; easy to open doors and cabinets, bars in strategic places such as toilets, showers and/or bathtubs, stairways outside or inside (even a small step is easy to miss).
For seniors ( especial those of you who don’t want to accept that you are going to get older) the best time to address this is when you are still working and can afford the changes. Enough said!
I want to digress here and mention my own experience regarding safety. When I moved into a townhouse in 1997, I was sixty and the first thing I did was put in a raised toilet and bars in the tub-a very elementary but necessary step. Much later I moved into a handicapped apartment ( prior to real need) which has lowered cabinets, easy to open and close drawers, bar handles on all the doors, four bars in the tub ( which will be converted later into a walk-in shower and a toilet seat which has washing and drying capacity for when the need arises for these conveniences. In other words I downsized from a three floor townhouse where I was climbing two flights of stairs several times a day to a ground level apartment with no stairs. And to tell the truth I have a hard time climbing one flight of stairs today only three years later. So much for the theory that a two story house is too hard on you as you age!!!
My fair lady! Yes, women especially in their later years and men too, of course, often find themselves taking a fall. The problem is that if their bones are brittle, they tend to break something, often a hip which can produce dire consequences.
I, myself, have fallen in the past three years five times. Yes, five times; yet thanks to luck and strong bones ( I religiously take my calcium in several forms), I haven’t broken anything but a finger. However there is an interesting article in the AARP magazine recently which gives information on ways to help you minimize damage when you do take a tumble. These are important to remember:
1. Don’t tense up; remember how someone inebriated can fall unharmed because they are so relaxed.
2.If falling forward turn your head to protect your face with your arm.
3. Falling backwards, tuck in your chin to avoid your head hitting the ground.
4. Try to keep your arms and knees bent and if it possible, try to roll with the fall.
When I was studying acting at theater school, they taught us our to fall with bent knees, go down and roll onto your shoulder. Sometimes for fun I would do this at a party as if I fainted. I guess it wasn’t so nice scaring everyone. When watching TV when someone is shot, notice how they fall.
A lot of folks snore when they sleep and while they are disturbing others, they don’t realize they are also harming themselves for they stop breathing at intervals.
You need a diagnosis for this condition from your doctor sleep specialist and a test to determine the extent of the problem but it is worth looking into it for your heart can be affected. I discovered that I stopped breathing 70 times during the night and was told to use a CPAP. That is a machine with a fitting over the nose that blows air into your throat to keep the flap in the back of the throat from closing up and stopping you from breathing. It can also contribute to a better night’s sleep for you and your partner.
Be Your Own Best Friend.
You can see that I believe in self awareness of your own body which is better than anything. You can always check things out with your doctor, but believe me, you are your own best person to take care of yourself. Be aware of how your body functions, where you are stiff or hurt, what muscles are weak or strong. A strong core is important. (Your core is the area in your middle – abdomen, hips, buttocks). A great easy exercise for this area to follow.
While most women understand their bodies first becoming aware when they begin their periods, many men don’t have a clue except when it comes to sex. When I taught an exercise class at New Trier West in Northfield, Illinois a few years ago to both men and women, several of the men couldn’t crunch their stomachs or buttock muscles or understand that their neck muscles needed exercise and it wouldn’t break their necks gently turning them to the far right and left or moving them in circles. It shows how out of touch some people are regarding their bodies despite the constant media messages to get out and exercise if you want to live longer. “Move it or lose it” is true.
There is a whole lot of advice out there to help you live a longer, happy life from tips on diet to exercise suggestions.
“Ask your Doctor” is a phrase heard ad-nauseam every day on television. This blog is not another health tip but a new slant on how to incorporate exercise into your life in a very simple, easy non-overwhelming way. In fact I have written about it in a new book I call “Exercise For Those Who Hate It” ©.
As a senior I know my limitations and you should know yours. Seeking out a good physical therapist is the way to start this new approach and learn how to handle those limitations if you don’t know already. Your doctor should be able to suggest one. If you have been struggling with this idea which is the general thinking today- exercise, exercise, exercise! If you don’t exercise, you won’t live long or your brain cells will die off leaving you with less than the short memory you have to contend with now or you won’t be able to recognize your family when they come to visit you in the old people’s home. (This is somewhat tongue in cheek but there is some truth in it).
Now I don’t know about you but I’d like the option of being active till I drop (maybe only suffering a very, very short period- a situation I have personally witnessed in other active seniors). It’s worth a shot so long as you really embrace the idea and work on engaging your brain and body not as much or as often as you are told but some effort is needed. It’s not a lot of effort and time spent at something you hate doing. It’s quality time and darn little of it but getting the results you want.
And now to my somewhat different approach….
Do you realize that you can keep physically active doing a few daily exercises in bed or on a chair in your own home? The trick is to learn the different exercises that YOU need for your specific problems. We all have these – arthritis in our joints, hands, neck, tight leg muscled, weakness in our backs, etc.
I learned about this approach by going to really good physical therapists who gave me drawings of the specific exercises I need to do and the amount of time and the number of repetitions to complete…all of which can be done in a few minutes. I have developed a new spin o the exercise part and I hope you will patiently follow me as I write about it.
The idea is to eliminate lot of gadgets and spend shorter time exercising. It could be ten minutes at a time lying in bed in the morning and at night or doing 10-15 squats in the shower or holding a chair and doing squats (the chair being for balance). As I proceed, I will explain my concept.
An example: I personally find the bed stretching helps me stand straighter when I get up and I don’t spend the day all hunch over with a tight lower back ( something my adult kids keep pestering about). “Exercise for Those Who Hate It” covers the details of these exercises which I will further explain in this blog.
To be continued……
The Safety Issue
Although renovating your home to address safety issues as a senior, the project is universal in application, that is appropriate for all ages groups, it is essential for seniors: “adults 65 years and older for between 2012- 2013 of the 90,640 deaths reported 55% were from falls” (Source: CDC).
Since safety renovations include a very ‘hands-on’ approach for my company, we are limiting the area we service to where we have been doing projects for over thirty years-that is the north shore area of Chicago. We will be glad to provide advice to people any where in the country. We, as interior designers, have a personal interest in helping people to live surrounded by beautiful and safe furnishings.
If you are local and need a personal consultation, we do provide a one hour complimentary session to help you in the planning ($125.00 value – our usual fee) with no obligation; however, anything over one hour will be charged at the above rate payable at the time of the consultation.
We encourage you to give us your thoughts and ideas on how you feel about safety issues impacting your life as it is something we all must face and I believe it is better to be prepared.
Please continue to follow us as we continue to address the idea of staying healthy as we age.