By Sarah Jennings
When it comes to ailments that afflict our golden generation, accidental falls rank right up there with heart attacks and strokes in terms of both frequency and severity. Falls amongst the elderly are a significant public health issue, with one-third of all Americans over 65 experiencing a fall each year.
Falls are the number one cause of injury death amongst senior citizens, and those that survive their fall commonly suffer moderate to severe injuries such as hip fractures, lacerations and/or head trauma. CDC data shows that deaths and severe injuries as the result of falls have significantly increased in the last two decades.
Regular exercise is obviously a crucial part of the fall prevention pyramid and recent research has suggested that there are certain kinds of exercises that are more beneficial than others when it comes to avoiding injury-inducing falls.
Researchers have found that exercise training for seniors that incorporates jumping into a routine that also includes modest aerobic and strength training drills can be instrumental in providing seniors with the physical resources necessary to improve balance and coordination, thus significantly reducing the number of falls and their consequences.
A study of 168 patients at a specific assisted living facility showed that jump training as a complement to other exercises proved to significantly increase the mitigation factors associated with falls.
Perhaps this is not terribly surprising, as the kind of muscle movements and body control employed when jumping are precisely the functions that come in handy when a situation occurs that might lead to a fall.
So now that we know that not only exercise, but jumping exercises are paramount to fall preventions, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- We’re not talking Olympic-style hurdles or long jumps. We’re talking about a much more modest set of techniques that will improve balance, but not place undue strain on hip and knee joints.
- Don’t overdo it. Even traditional exercises like jumping jacks can place far too much stress on aging bones and joints, causing swelling and pain.
- Stretching should take place before any exercise is conducted to limber up the muscles and get the joints primed for activity.
- A recommended method involving a set of mini-hurdles can be found at Livestrong
- Seniors taking part in an exercise regime are naturally encouraged to discuss it with their doctor and seek the assistance of trained fitness professionals.
Sarah Jennings has been taking care of others her whole life. In 2005, she moved her mother into her family home. She uses her personal experience to share with others about caring for the elderly. She currently writes for Brookdale assisted living.