Adding Life to Years – Holding onto Quality of Life & Independence in Later Years

Staying Strong & Fit

While it’s important at any age, staying strong and fit in your elder years has a direct effect on your quality of life. Keeping muscle strength around your shoulders, back and hips means you can engage in more meaningful activities like gardening or lifting your grandchildren. Getting fit means you’ll have more energy on day trips and won’t need to stop and rest as often as before. Both of these help prevent falls and improve your breathing, so you’ll feel less out of breath and more confident in yourself. Here’s some tips for adapting an exercise routine:

  1. Routine: Take on exercise that you can put into your schedule every week at the same time. Make that time sacred so that you only ever miss the exercise for a very good reason.
  2. Social: Arranging to exercise with other people means you’re more likely to get the exercise done, and more likely to enjoy it as well. Chatting and sharing stories helps distract you from the exercise and makes the time pass quicker.
  3. Variety: Having several different types of exercise in your routine keeps the week interesting and makes you significantly more likely to keep up your exercise routine for longer. Here’s some suggestions of different types of exercise older people can try:

For information on In-Home Physiotherapy-led exercise sessions, Click Here!

Avoiding Falls in the Home
Suffering falls in your own home is a common reason for older people having to leave their homes for Assisted Living or Nursing Homes. As you get older, it becomes harder to get yourself back up off the floor when you fall. The consequences of a fall also become more severe. Many older people suffer with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis (reduced bone density, ‘brittle bones’), which means that your bones break easier. when subject to trauma.  Hip fractures are all to commonly the result of falls, and can permanently affect your independence and mobility. Here’s 6 simple tips you or your older relative can adopt around the home to reduce the risk of falls and thus improve their safety:

  1. Move items that you use everyday onto a shelf, cabinet or counter-top at Waist Height. This will reduce the amount of bending, stretching or climbing you have to do, which will reduce your risk of falling everyday.
  2. Wear slippers or indoor footwear that Fit your Feet Well and have a Good Grip on the sole. The last thing you need is your shoes slipping on the floor, causing you to lose your balance and fall.
  3. Use a Grip-Mat in the shower and install Grab-Rails around the bath to help you getting in and out. These places are particularly dangerous and slippery when wet.
  4. Sleep disturbance is common in older adults (which I discuss further later on). Ensure you have a Lamp or Light Switch Near You in the Bed so you can turn the lights on and see where you’re putting your feet.
  5. Mop up Spillages Straight Away when they occur, so you don’t forget about them and slip on them later on!
  6. Wear night clothes and gowns that Don’t Drag or Hang on the Floor, as these are a significant trip hazard.

Improving Sleep Quality & Lifting Mood

As you move into your later years, you may notice that you find it hard to get to sleep and even harder to stay asleep! It’s not uncommon for you to get a poorer quality of sleep as well, leaving you feeling tired and moody during the following day. This sleep disturbance can be caused by many things including medication, physical illness and environmental causes. Some of these need to be treated by your doctor. Here’s some things you can try at home tonight to try and improve your sleep quality and duration:

  1. Take Exercise: Try taking exercise in the late afternoon or evening. Taking exercise in the morning means you’re more likely to nap in the afternoon, which then can cause sleep disturbance the following night. Make sure you’re breathing heavy when you’re exercising so you’ll be sufficiently tired out and ready to sleep!
  2. No TV in the Bedroom: Having a TV or Radio in your bedroom serves as a mental distraction. It impairs your brains preparation for sleep and as a result causes your sleep quality to be poor. Watch your TV in a separate room, so that when you come into your bedroom you’re there primarily to sleep.
  3. Fast before Sleeping: Digestion of food in your stomach can take up to 3 hours after a big meal. During this 3 hour period, its better for your body to remain predominantly upright, otherwise you’re likely to experience reflux or heartburn, both of which adversely affect sleep. This is why is better to wait for a while after eating before trying to sleep.
  4. Avoid Daytime Napping: Napping during the day is sometimes necessary, particularly if you’ve had a very active morning. However if you’re in a routine of taking an afternoon nap for 1-2 hours, you will find it more difficult to sleep in the evening time. Try breaking this routine for a day and see how much better you sleep that evening.
  5. Therapeutic Massage: Muscle aches and tension are a common cause of sleep disturbance, and can be relieved by therapeutic massage. This treatment also helps to improve mood and induce relaxation in the body, all of which will help prepare your body for sleep. Try taking a massage in the afternoon or evening and I guarantee you’ll sleep better!

elderly massage

Book an Appointment

If you’re interested in booking a consultation with me (Sean Flynn), a chartered physiotherapist, then don’t hesitate to give me a call, text or email (contact details below).

Phone: 0861546175



Falls in the Elderly – The Serious Implications, and How to Prevent!

Serious Implications

Falling in their later years can have serious implications for our elderly neighbours and relatives. Roughly 5% of all falls in the elderly result in a fracture of some kind, and thus require hospital admission. Fractures of the hips (the femur bone or the pelvis) are most common, but fractures of the hand or wrist occur as well, due to people putting out their hands to break their fall. Falls often result in premature admission to nursing homes and frequently require surgical intervention, both of which can be life changing events when you’re in your later years. Finally, of all those admitted to hospital after a fall over the age of 70, only roughly 50% will be alive one year after, such is the trauma and impact of falls in this population.

While older people don’t necessarily fall more often then the younger population, they are more likely to be injured as a result of a fall because they are more frail and their bones tend to be structurally weaker. They are also at increased risk because their muscles get weaker and their reflexes get poorer. It’s no wonder that some people develop a fear of falling, which often results in less activity outside the home and less exercise. This in turn results in you being less fit and active, which itself has the effect of making you more likely to experience a fall.

Prevention is Crucial!

Due to the fact that falls can be so detrimental, a proactive, preventative approach is important. Keeping fit, mobile and active are all important, and some promising studies have shown that Tai Chi helps improve elderly people’s balance and co-ordination, thus reduce their overall falls risk. Walking aids can be beneficial, but making sure to introduce the correct walking aid at the right time is crucial, as otherwise they can do more harm than good. Getting these walking aids checked twice a year to make sure they are still fit for purpose is also essential. Getting a comprehensive Falls Risk Assessment in the home can identify a lot of small but significant issues which we can then work to reduce and eliminate. For more information on booking an In-Home Falls Risk Assessment with Flynn Medical Exercise, click here!

It’s not just about reducing a persons risk of falling, but also reducing their risk of injury if they do happen to experience a fall. Protective clothing like hip protectors have been shown to reduce the risk of a hip fracture having suffered a fall. Regular weight bearing exercise can also help to improve your bone strength, making them less prone to fracture. Finally, taking a proactive approach to prevent falls can help you and your elderly relatives or neighbours feel safer and more confident both when in your home and out in the community, which is worth so much in the golden years of your life.

Why not share this article on your Facebook or Twitter account so that someone with an elderly relative might see it and get them assessed, leaving them safer, healthier and happier! Thank you in advance!

Seán Flynn is the Lead Clinician with Flynn Medical Exercise, and takes patients in their Sandyford clinic. In-Home Falls Risk Assessments are also available, contact us to make a booking! PH: 0861546175