I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up…Or…


One of my top clients was so excited to bring in an article from yesterday’s (June 5, 2019) New York Times, “Rate of Death From a Fall Is Increasing Rapidly for Americans over 75,” by Katie Hafner. Here is the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/health/falls-elderly-prevention-deaths.html .

Let me start out by stating that while I am not a doctor, my many years working as a congregational rabbi and doing hospital visits has taught me a thing or two. In particular, I have seen first-hand that falls are a huge problem for older Americans. There is more than just the physical trauma too. A fall can make a person anxious about falling again so they go out less. Going out less leads to social isolation, can contribute to poor nutrition (ordering in rather than going to a store to get “real” food), and a general decline in conditions.

A new study out by the Journal of American Medicine shows that the rate of death from falls for those over 75 is going up at an alarming rate. There are a number of factors that explain this, but chief among them is that folks are surviving other conditions that might previously have ended their lives; the more we age and the longer we live, the higher a role falls plays in morbidity.

Part of my training as a Functional Aging Specialist allows me to better detect when a person is at a higher risk for a fall. My training has also taught me how to work to mitigate the risk. With some of my clients, this is a huge part of what we do–simply learning not to fall, and what to do if it does happen.

The article suggest that there are a number of factors that can help prevent falls: exercise, being aware of medications and the effect they can have on balance, the clothes and accessories we are wearing (bifocals and high heels are both culprits), tidying up to get rid of tripping hazards, and staying hydrated.

Falls are not inevitable. They can be prevented. When they are, they allow older adults to live longer, more independent and joyful lives. As we age, we need to be cognizant of this possibility and take the steps to make our golden years fall-free.

I’m a certified Functional Aging Specialist!

Readers may recall that I attended the IDEA Personal Fitness Conference – East at the beginning of April in Alexandria, VA. My main reason for going was to do the all-day training for the Functional Aging Specialist Certification. It was a great training (and I got CEC for it), but still needed to take three on-line exams in order to be certified.

I hoped that I would be able to pass all three by the end of April, but wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. Being laid up after foot surgery left me with more time on my hands so I decided to be productive. Many hours of reading and watching videos and I passed the last exam today! With four hours left in April!

As I blogged about earlier, FAI is in the forefront of fostering better practices and research in the realm of fitness for older adults. The focus is less on building muscle strength and more on working to keep older adults able to do the things they want and need to do. In other words, we address the wants and needs of our clients in order to keep them functional and independent. There is a greater emphasis on building muscle power (which helps with getting out of a chair or going up the stairs) as well as improving balance and reactivity time.

This will be very interesting for me since this is such a diverse population. Every senior presents with a different fitness and health history; there are 60-year-olds who cannot walk without assistance, and there are 80-year-olds running marathons. This kind of training requires more intense planning and specialization based on getting to know the client really well.

I will keep you posted on how this part of my “business” progresses. In the meantime, I look forward to a little celebration of my accomplishment!