May is Older Americans Month, and this year’s theme – Connect, Create, and Contribute – highlights ways older adults can interact with their community.
Negative habits can add up over a lifetime and limit a person’s ability to connect.
Physical activity and healthy eating are crucial to aging and living well, yet more than 80% of adults do not meet the physical activity guidelines for aerobic and strengthening exercises.
Inactivity and poor diets can lead to higher risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. According to the National Council on Aging, an estimated 80% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two.
The national physical activity guideline recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week and perform muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups two or more days a week. By engaging in regular physical activity, older adults can improve their overall health, prevent or reduce their risk of chronic conditions, and reduce their risk of falling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every second an older adult falls, making falls the No. 1 cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans.
Because of a high number of falls, many community-dwelling older adults have a fear of falling, which can result in social isolation, avoidance of physical activity, and increased frailty.
Are you asking patients if they have fallen or are afraid of falling? If you’re concerned that your patient has fallen or has a fear of falling, consider referring him or her to community-based organizations. Senior centers or area agencies on aging can provide physical activities and evidence-based programming to assist older adults in making healthy lifestyle behavior changes.
Encouraging patients to adopt healthy behaviors will help them maintain or improve their current health status and reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions.
Texercise, a free health initiative of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), educates adults 45 and older about physical activity and nutrition. The Texercise handbook provides older adults with general nutrition information and detailed instructions for balance, strength, endurance, and flexibility exercises. Texercise also has two free programs (Classic and Select) for communities and organizations to provide ways for older adults to learn about and engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Find more information about Texercise on the HHSC website.
Throughout Older Americans Month, Texas Medicine Today will share information from HHSC to help you help older Texans live and age well and live independently.