Dealing with Aging Joints
December 4, 2012
Mental Disorders Are Not Normal Aging
December 18, 2012
Show all

Obesity is on the Rise

Seniors and obesityObesity has become the #2 cause of preventable death in the U.S (behind smoking). It contributes to such health conditions and diseases as breast cancer, coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, and hypertension and stroke. Sixty million American adults are considered obese.

 

Here are five things you may not know about obesity:

  1. Being obese is different from being overweight. It’s not good to be either. However, a person with a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. One who has a BMI of over 30 is obese.

  2. Obesity is not all about a lack of will power. Although it is true that eating too much can contribute to obesity, there are multiple risk factors. In addition to poor dietary habits and lack of physical activity, genetics and social and cultural factors can also play a role in one becoming obese. Also, some medications and medical problems can make a person more likely to gain excess weight.

  3. Treating obesity is about more than simply losing weight. Obesity treatment is multi-faceted and involves making changes in eating habits and activity levels. It also involves becoming better educated about the risks of obesity. A doctor needs to investigate potential risks, complications, and underlying health conditions that may require treatment. In some cases, obesity treatment may also require medication or surgery.

  4. Physical activity is the key to preventing obesity. While there are many reasons why people become obese, lack of physical activity is one of the strongest risk factors and predictors. An exercise program, starting slowly and under a doctor’s supervision, can work effectively for even older people who suffer from obesity (see story on exercise).

  5. Obese older adults may be more likely than those who are thinner to suffer potentially disabling falls. Although falls are often seen as a problem for thin, frail older adults, since their bones are especially prone to fracture, obesity carries its own risks. People who are obese may have a harder time with balance, and when they lose their footing they may be less able to react quickly and stop a fall.

 

Myths about Exercise

Many seniors have a difficult time starting an exercise regimen.  This is certainly to be expected – getting involved in an exercise program is not easy at any age, much less for someone who is older. To mentally get over the hurdle of getting started, it makes sense to begin by first separating fact from fiction when it comes to exercise. Here are some common myths that need to be dispelled (along with the realities):

 

It’s too late (at my age) to start exercising.

Exercise, in fact, is beneficial for individuals regardless of age, even for those who are in their 70s, 80s, or even 90s. Muscle mass naturally decreases after age 40; however, it is possible to build muscle at any age. Strong muscles help make daily tasks easier, and provide balance and stability to prevent falls. Bottom line: it’s never too late, even if it means finding an exercise program that is performed without ever leaving a chair (or wheelchair).

I will get injured.

Injuries can happen during exercise for someone at any age. However, attending fitness classes designed specifically for seniors, or working with a trainer who is proficient in senior fitness, will minimize this risk. Low impact, light resistance classes work best for seniors just beginning a fitness program.

I am not flexible enough to exercise.

Decreased range of motion is not unusual. However, this should not be viewed as an obstacle to exercising. Exercise, especially classes that specifically incorporate stretching, improves range of motion and function in seniors. This can relieve muscle and joint pain associated with stiffness and lack of circulation.

Since I have osteoporosis I cannot exercise.

Osteoporosis should not prevent exercise at any age. In fact, exercise actually strengthens the bones by stimulating bone growth, therefore combating osteoporosis. The risk of breaks or fractures has been found to be reduced among seniors that exercise. It also improves overall function.

 

How About Doing Some Gardening?

Gardening is an excellent way for aging bodies to get plenty of fresh air and a moderate-intensity aerobic workout that can help shed calories and help one stay flexible from the bending, lifting, kneeling, squatting, weeding and pruning.

Here are some things to consider when gardening this summer:

  • Protect against pests and the elements by slathering on sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and insect repellent before putting on clothes.
  • Add benches or chairs under shady trees.
  • Create raised beds to improve drainage and make harvesting easier. Lightweight plastic landscape timbers can be stacked to form raised beds at waist or wheelchair height, if necessary. Make the beds narrow, so anyone can reach into the center without straining.
  • Make vertical gardens by growing vining plants upward using trellises, tomato cages, bamboo stakes, fences, walls or arbors as supports. This will cut down on bending and make harvesting easier.
  • Avoid hanging baskets, since they dry out quickly, require frequent fertilization, and can be difficult to reach.
  • Work in the morning and evening, when it’s coolest.
  • Bring a water bottle to prevent dehydration.
  • Wear sturdy shoes, a broad-brimmed hat and gardening gloves.
  • Bend at the knees and hips to avoid injury.
  • Use manual shears instead of power hedge clippers to avoid accidents.

 

*******************************

Angels Senior Home Solutions is a based-in-faith company that provides in-home healthcare and personal care services for seniors. We are pleased to provide caregivers that help to restore independence, health and confidence to the elderly.

For more information, please visit our website at www.angelsinhome.com.

Comments are closed.