Four Most Common Injuries in the Elderly and How to Prevent Them

Written by Joe Fleming

Every year, millions of seniors are sent to the emergency room. Of those millions, nearly 30 percent are there to be treated for some kind of injury.

While often necessary, these trips can be traumatic and often cause seniors a lot of extra stress. The first step to avoiding them is to understand the most common injuries that affect elderly adults.

Listed below are four injuries that often send seniors to the emergency room, along with tips on how to prevent them.

  1. Fractures

Fractures are highly common in seniors. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that seniors lose bone density as they age. This makes their bones more fragile and prone to fractures.

Fractures, especially hip fractures, are often the result of a fall. To prevent them, one of the first things you can do is invest in tools that reduce the risk of slipping and falling. Good ones to start with include:

  • Grab bars and handrails
  • A shower chair for the bathroom
  • Walkers and canes
  • Stair and porch lifts

To decrease the risk of fractures, it’s also important to make sure seniors are getting plenty of vitamin D and calcium. Seniors should exercise regularly to strengthen their bones and improve their balance, too, and also avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption (both of these weaken the bones).

  1. Wrist and Ankle Sprains

Many falls can result in wrist or ankle sprains. Over time, the tissues of the joints wear down in seniors and become less flexible, which increase their risk of a sprain. Wrist sprains are often caused when someone throws out their hand to catch themselves when they fall. Ankle sprains, on the other hand, can occur from falls and from simple actions like standing up out of a bed or chair.

Many of the precautions mentioned for preventing fractures are also applicable for preventing ankle and wrist sprains. Increasing consumption of vitamins and minerals(in the form of a multivitamin), as well as proteolytic enzymes, can help reduce inflammation and speed up the body’s healing process in the event that a sprain does occur.

  1. Head Trauma

Head trauma is another common injury among seniors. In fact, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) account for approximately 80,000 emergency room visits each year.

Falls cause most TBIs in seniors (about 50 percent). This is because an older adult’s reflexes are often slower and they often lack muscle strength. Both factors limit seniors’ ability to catch themselves when they fall and leave them vulnerable to trauma when their head hits the floor or another object like a cabinet or stair.

Car accidents are the second most common cause of TBIs, accounting for about nine percent.

One of the best ways to prevent head trauma in seniors is to get rid of clutter and objects like loose rugs that could serve as a tripping hazard. It’s especially important to get rid of these items near stairways and sharp-edged pieces of furniture.

Arranging transportation for seniors who are no longer competent drivers is also a good step to decrease their risk of sustaining a TBI while behind the wheel.

  1. Shoulder Dislocations

Shoulder dislocations can be caused by a number of issues, including falling on an outstretched arm, repetitive use from activities like tennis or golf, and overextending when reaching for an object. It’s also possible for seniors to sustain a shoulder dislocation when someone is pulling on their arm to help them stand up.

To prevent shoulder dislocations, seniors should work on improving the range of motion and mobility of their shoulder. They should also work to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder joint to help protect it from injuries.

Rearranging cabinets can be helpful, too, in preventing seniors from having to overexert themselves when reaching for objects. Caregivers should also exercise caution when helping seniors up to avoid accidental dislocations.

Wrapping Up

When it comes to keeping seniors safe and happy in their homes, injury prevention should be a top priority. Taking simple steps to improve stability and minimize accident risk can make a huge difference and give seniors (and their caregivers) peace of mind.

Ten Ways Seniors Can Improve Mobility and Maintain Their Independence

Written by Nurse Susan

Many seniors assume that limited mobility is an unavoidable part of the aging process. This definitely doesn’t have to be the case. By focusing on improving and maintaining their mobility, seniors can age in a healthy way, stay independent longer, and avoid falls and injuries that may negatively impact their quality of life.

Listed below are ten ways that seniors can improve their mobility to maintain strength and independence.

  1. Improve Balance

Focusing on improving balance is essential for seniors who want to avoid falls. Forms of exercise like yoga, tai chi, and pilates are great for improving balance. But, simply practicing standing on one foot (while holding onto chair or countertop) is also beneficial.

  1. Resistance Train

Resistance training strengthens the muscles and bones to improve balance and overall functionality. For seniors who are new to resistance training, bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups are a good starting point. Those who are more experienced can add resistance bands or weights.

  1. Utilize Mobility Aids

For those who currently struggle with walking, reaching, or other daily functions, it’s important to utilize mobility aids rather than simply avoid doing tasks that are challenging. Reach-extenders, canes, and walkers can help you stay active and avoid letting your limitations get in your way.

  1. Adjust Your Living Space

Making adjustments to your home can also improve your mobility and help you maintain your independence. Some good adjustments to start with include:

  • Adding ramps to the entrance of your home
  • Installing rails and grab bars
  • Getting rid of loose rugs and objects that you could trip over
  • Rearranging cabinets and closets to make items more accessible
  1. Work on Your Dexterity

If you improve your dexterity and grip strength, you’ll have an easier time handling tasks like opening doors and jars and carrying groceries. If you have a stronger grip, you’ll also have an easier time holding weights while you resistance train.

There are numerous ways to improve your dexterity and grip strength from the comfort of your own home:

  • Squeeze a stress ball or therapy putty
  • Do wrist curls with light dumbbells
  • Do hand and finger stretches
  • Practice picking up small objects like pennies or paper clips and moving them from one pile to another
  1. Tackle Household Projects on Your Own

There may be some household projects that you need help with — major projects like shingling your roof or mowing the lawn should probably be handled by professions! But, are there projects you’re outsourcing even though you could handle them on your own.

One way to improve your mobility is to challenge yourself to take on more projects. Don’t get carried away and do more than you can manage, but consider tackling tasks like changing light bulbs, vacuuming, and basic cleaning by yourself.

  1. Buy New Shoes

Sometimes, the solution to your mobility problems is simple. Changing your shoes could make a big difference in your ability to walk around and take care of other tasks. Look for shoes with plenty of tread to help you avoid slipping and falling. Your shoes should also fit comfortably and have plenty of support so that you can walk for extended periods of time without hurting your feet. Make sure you’re changing your shoes regularly, too, to avoid wearing them out.

  1. Change Your Diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help increase your energy and, by proxy, your mobility. Increasing your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, nuts, and leafy green vegetables can also help reduce inflammation and joint pain that may be limiting your ability to move around freely.

  1. Get Your Eyes Checked

Conserving your vision with regular checkups will also help you maintain your independence. Not only will you be able to drive yourself to appointments, but you’ll also be able to spot potential tripping hazards more easily.

  1. Know Your Limits

Finally, while it’s important to challenge yourself, it’s also important for you to understand your limits. Avoid taking on risky activities that could end up making your mobility worse. If you’re not sure about a specific activity, talk to your doctor before participating.

Retirement Blues

According to life’s great book of rules, retirement should be the satisfying, well-deserved culmination of a life spent in preparation for just this moment. Away from the stresses of the working world, able to pursue interests that are actually interesting, free to spend time as you want – darn close to the definition of the perfect scenario. How could anyone find they are anything but happy to be retired?

Be careful what you wish for…

What if you discover you are not entirely ready to retire? What if you are unprepared to fill your free hours with worthwhile, meaningful and fun things? Perhaps worst of all what if you become bored? The thought of twenty or thirty more years spent pursuing the same dismal course can bring on those retirement blues big time.

I enjoy being retired. But the beginning of my second act was anything but enjoyable. Having lost my job at the tender age of 53 no one was more surprised than me to find I was no longer hirable. Apparently 30 years of experience was no longer valued in the fast moving technology start-up rocket-to-the-moon companies I had been happily engaged with to this point. Upon finding myself “on the streets” I struggled for more than a year to find some fit, enduring multiple pulse-quickening sweaty-pit-inducing interviews but found no takers.

At first I was confused. To this point I had moved seamlessly from company to company with very little time between jobs. Someone always wanted me on their team. I thought I still had “it” but apparently that was not the case. What had changed so drastically?

I questioned my own worth. Was it something about me? Had I lost my mojo, was I no longer good enough? In the end I fear I was just too old to fit the bill with the twenty-something CEOs driving those enterprises onward. My original plans had been to work to close to age 62. Forced retirement could put a major crimp in the financial position I had hoped to be in before my exit. Not the best way to start a retirement life.

What if you find as you enter your “golden years” you are not physically or mentally up to launching a new life chapter? Many retirement age folks have worked long and hard along the way. Some may just be worn out. Now that you finally have the time to do all you dream of you just don’t have the energy. Talk about grounds for a serious case of the retirement blues.

What if you find yourself living your retirement dream solo? Probably not exactly the dream you envisioned but sometimes reality just the same. All those adventures you planned with your significant other, those spur-of-the-moment escapes, those travels to previously unvisited destinations, those peaceful times spent side-by-side reading or just enjoying being together – without someone to share the moment a piece of the magic is missing.

What if retirement is just not what you expected? You may be free to do what you want but do you know what that might be? Will an empty calendar be a good thing or not? You may have hobbies but are they enough to entertain you for ten or twenty or more years?

Before you let those retirement blues get the best of you take a moment to remember what you have dealt with and survived to arrive at this stage of your life. Each of us has faced challenges. If you have raised a family you have weathered storms the likes of which only fellow parents can imagine. You have withstood everything from teething to tantrums, sleepless nights to dance recital jitters, teen angst to bewildered young adults struggling to grow up, and on and on. You have to be pretty tough to get through all this with all your marbles (or at least most of them).

Many have weathered careers that were a far cry from what we imagined when we began. Not all bosses are a joy to work with. Not all deadlines are reasonable. Not all who should be promoted are in fact promoted. Sticking with it is no easy chore and yet you prevailed.

Retirees are survivors. Don’t sell yourself short. Call upon those super hero strengths you developed along the way.

I try not to worry about things out of my control. Too often I imagine all the bad outcomes that could be and then when the moment arrives it turns out not nearly as awful as I imagined. Unfortunately I cannot take back those worrisome moments spent in anticipation of something that ultimately never was. I am learning it is better to go with the flow rather than try to prepare for every possibility.

Coping with the blues is part of the human experience. Retirement blues is just another track on the same record. We have done it before and with a little luck and determination we should be able to do it again.

Happy Retirement!

LoveBeingRetired.com