Aging and Independence
Managing health through diet, exercise, regular visits to a health care provider, and a proper medication regimen can help stall or even prevent the diseases of aging. The average life expectancy in the United States has risen to an all-time high of 78.8 years. Along with a longer life comes a greater likelihood of having to contend with the diseases of aging, which include heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, and dementia. Failing to manage these conditions effectively can rob older adults of their independence.
Falls are a significant independence stealer. An estimated 1 in 3 Americans over age 65 falls each year. Injuries sustained during a fall can lead to hospitalization, disability, and even death. Maintaining good balance can help prevent a fall and the problems that often follow. Balance exercises for seniors, such as standing on one foot or walking heel-to-toe, help older adults gain more control over their body so they can stay upright. Doing these exercises at least twice a week offers the greatest benefit.
Aging in place is another key concern as people get older. Most older adults want to remain in familiar surroundings—their own home—while maintaining their independence. Yet not every home is equipped to accommodate reduced mobility. Stairs to climb, high shelves to reach, and slippery bathroom floors can make the family home a dangerous place.
Making accommodations to the home can increase the likelihood of aging in place safely and successfully. Modifications like stair lifts, a walk-in shower, and bathroom railings can reduce the likelihood of falls. Technology can be another ally in helping seniors who plan to age in place, especially those who live alone. In the event of a fall or other emergency, wearable senior alert systems can summon medical help with the press of a button.