We don’t think much about when we’re younger, but as those years add up, it becomes a bigger issue.
After all, you feel bad calling your children and grandchildren to help you out around the house. You don’t want some stranger coming over to take care of you. And you haven’t even considered moving out to one of those assisted living facilities.
Independence means choosing where you live, how you live. It means continuing to make decisions for yourself, rather than have someone else making them for you. It means being able to stay safe in your own home.
But 1 in every 3 people over the age of 65 will fall in any given year – and 20-30% of those people will suffer moderate to severe injuries because of the fall. In fact, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults. Most bone fractures in older adults are caused by falls.
And the problem is that even if a person isn't injured in a fall, many people become so afraid of falls that they limit their physical activity – which in turn can actually make you more susceptible to taking a fall.
It sounds like nothing but bad news. But – the good news is that you can start taking steps to remain independent as you age right now – because it’s never too early, or too late, to start.
1. Keep Moving. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to stay independent as you age is to keep moving. Be physically active every day – stroll the shops, spend time in the garden, play with your grandchildren. And aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity 5 days a week. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to get your heart rate up – fast walks, swimming, aerobics classes – in order to keep your heart healthy and strong.
2. Easy Ways to Stay Strong. As important as moving is, keeping your muscle tone is equally as important. Work with free weights or resistance bands at least twice a week. Start with low weights – even 1 pound is better than nothing – and work up as you get stronger. And don’t worry about getting too bulky. That won’t happen accidentally.
3. Finding the Right Balance. Being able to balance isn’t just for circus performers. Balance keeps you safe when you’re changing a light bulb, getting in and out of the bath and shower, even carrying the groceries. Try to add balance exercises into your routine 2-3 times per week.
They don’t have to be complex. Stand on one foot. Walk heel to toe. Stand up and sit down without using your hands. All of these are balance exercises. Be sure to hold onto something if you need support when you start out. Move up to yoga and tai chi as you get better balanced and more flexible. Also, keep getting regular eye and ear exams, as vision and hearing play vital roles in balance.
4. Using the Right Assistive Devices Keeps You Comfortable (and Safe). Pride can get in the way of staying independent as you age if you’re not careful. It’s sometimes hard to admit that you need a bar to help get in and out of the bath, or a lift to help navigate the stairs. Some people even have a hard time acknowledging they need orthopedic shoes. But admitting those things – and making your home a safe place to stay – can be the difference between getting to stay and having to move.
5. Work Your Brain. Part of staying independent as you age is being able to remember details – so remember to work your brain, as well as your body. Learn something new, if it’s a foreign language, how to knit, or the rules of a sport you’ve never played, never stop learning. Repeat important information to help remember it. Repeat it several times immediately, but then repeat it again over the course of a few hours and a few days. Finally, in spite of all this, don’t worry about remembering everything. Write things down. Use calendars, smart phones, and lists. The less memory you take up remembering little things, the more space you have for the big things.
Staying independent as you age really is just a matter of taking a few, important steps. And we here at NorthStar Nutritionals are here with you every step of the way.
Our supplements are designed to help keep your body healthy, your mind sharp, and even your mood joyous. This is where you can find the natural discoveries of Dr. Allan Spreen, including his recommendations for how best to stay healthy.
And of course, our wellness blog, your one stop for breaking health news, supplement reviews, and more tips and tricks on how to remain independent.
You can stay independent as you age – and you don’t have to do it alone. NorthStar Nutritionals, Dr. Allan Spreen – and you. The perfect team to keep you strong, healthy, and independent, no matter what your age.