September is Fall Prevention Awareness Month. Traditionally, a conversation with a healthcare provider about fall prevention focuses mainly on biological risk factors and incorporating more structured fitness into your routine. This narrow view of health and fall prevention neglects the diverse needs of the whole person. According to the University of Southern California, adults over the age of 65 can expect to live longer today than 40 years ago, but will live with at least one chronic disease or functional limitation.
Today nearly 80% of older adults live with at least one chronic disease, 25% live with a mental health disease, 30% experience loneliness, and 25% fall each year (NCOA, AARP). Our current healthcare system is predisposed to be more reactive than proactive, although many ailments can be prevented with a wholesome diet, increased activity and by drinking plenty of water.
A whole-person approach to health and fall prevention embraces the uniqueness of each person and the belief that well-being has nothing to do with age. Well-being includes seven domains: identity, security, connectedness, meaning, growth, and joy. In order to live well you, need to feel well, be connected and have purpose (Powers, 2017).
Social connection is a component of lifestyle medicine (Am J Lifestyle Med, 2017). Humans are hardwired to interact because our social connections impact our health. Studies suggest that social connections contribute to a healthy body mass index, control blood sugars, decrease cardiovascular mortality, decrease depressive symptoms, mitigate post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, and improve overall mental health.
Staying connected and engaged to your community is the best way to increase your overall health and well-being. It even helps keep you physically active. So opt-in when social opportunities are offered. Some ideas may include joining your local recreation center, volunteering in your local community, joining a walking club, and spending time with your friends and family. During the month of September we will provide holistic fall prevention tips to integrate into your lifestyle daily that are both simple and effective. We will also highlight residents who have adopted lifestyles that focus on healthy living, which may not actually include high intensity exercise programs.