The cost of falling
Growing up I didn’t think my dad was superman, I thought he could kick superman’s butt. I would watch him swing a sledgehammer like it weighed 2 lbs and knock down walls with what seemed like great ease. As an adult I have traversed the Grand Canyon with him multiple times, and I get to watch him toss the grandkids over his shoulder and carry them around the house like it's nothing, playing and running with his grandkids and knowing the wonderful memories he is creating with them. Likewise I have always been in awe of my mom's boundless energy and constant motion. She never seems to tire, and was always ready to play with us as kids and even now climbs up on the big trampoline to jump and play with the grandkids. What impresses me even more is the way she can handle throwing hay bales for the horses and swinging that big heavy saddle onto the backs of her horses. I am lucky! I am very lucky for so many reasons. I have parents that are healthy, physically active AND listen to my advice! I kid.... (a little).
As adults, for those of us that are lucky enough to still have their parents here with us, the conversations and concerns begin to shift. Do your parents want to age in place? And if they do are they healthy enough and physically able to age in place? Much more than strength, balance and flexibility play a larger roll in a person's ability to age in place. The number one cause of injury-related deaths in people over 60 years old is falling. It is also the 7th overall leading cause of death in people over 60. Balance is such an important element in taking care of our bodies and ensuring that aging in place is a viable option. At the moment I am very blessed to have such agile parents, but it's not all luck. They have done their part to ensure that they are physically capable of completing the tasks in life that they love, playing with the grand kids, riding horses, and hiking for days on end. Balance is much like strength and flexibility, if you don’t use it you lose it.
Constantly challenging balance and creating proprioceptive enriched environments to navigate and conquer with the help of a fitness professional will greatly reduce the risk of falling in individuals over 60 years old.
I can't even say elderly, 60 is just not that old to be worried about falling. At GCF we keep balance as a focal point of any training program regardless of age. The focus shifts more from strength, and weight loss to injury prevention, flexibility and balance as the clientele ages. With a 31% increase in reported deaths from falls between the years 2007-2016 the issue is not going to go away on its own. A focused and diligently executed plan to prevent loss of balance as we age is an essential part of living a full and healthy life. The average cost of a fall to an individual is $100,000 just for initial treatments! This number doesn't even include extended care, lingering pain and continued treatment if that is necessary. The risk of falling and it's associated medical costs is too important to continue to ignore. The direct medical cost of falling in the U.S. alone has reached over $30 billion. That is a staggering number by any stretch, especially when the risk for falling and balance issues can generally be greatly reduced by a well laid out fitness plan. One of the things we love so much at GCF is watching adults maintain and regain their independence and live on their own terms. After this last year I am more convinced than ever that my dad can kick superman’s butt and that my mom has some supernatural powers. With proper training and attention to physical changes through the years that can be addressed, they can continue to amaze me for years to come! Here is to watching my dad carry his future great-grand kids over his shoulder and my mom saddling up the pony for her future great-grand kids!
Be sure to check out Go Conquer Fitness's Youtube channel for fall prevention videos starting next week!
Katie Stumbo B.S Biology with a focus in Pre-Physical Therapy, CPT, PES