The changes that natural aging produces in the human organism affect gait, balance and neuromuscular control, becoming the main causes of the frequency of falls of the elderly.
Therefore, specialists in the area recommend that older adults exercise daily to reduce the risk, because if the body is kept active it will be stronger and, therefore, less vulnerable.
"The exercises should be appropriate to the physical conditions of each person of the third age, after evaluation of a specialist – a kinesiologist-", says Jenny Rojas, physiotherapist and kinesiologist.RELATED
Older adults “are more prone to falls because due to age and loss of muscle functions and elasticity, there is a decrease in defense and balance reflexes. Also, there is a decrease in the base of support thus leaving the most unstable center of gravity, ”explains Rojas.
Globally, falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional deaths, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO). An estimated 646,000 people die each year as a result of falls.
"Falls, blows, cuts, burns and poisoning are the most frequent accidents in the elderly," warns gerontologist Nelson Chavez.
He points out that the majority of accidents suffered by older people occur at home, usually due to a lack of adaptation of the facilities to their physical conditions due to aging: less visual acuity, deterioration of physical abilities (gait, coordination, balance ), cognitive impairment and others.
In general, falls can cause: fractures, loss of consciousness, internal bleeding, skin lesions, inflammations, severe pain in the area of the stroke and loss of functionality.
The gerontologist explains that the most severe are the fractures (hip, legs, arms, ribs) taking into account the bone fragility they have – the elderly – because they involve the beginning of a long recovery process and medical interventions that can bring other complications inherent in attention. ”
"It may sound exaggerated, but a house can be a minefield for an old man if certain precautions are not taken to avoid falls," says the specialist.
Therefore, Chávez advises to guarantee – to the elderly – “a physical environment suitable for their development. Adapt the houses to their reality and limitations with correct lighting, ramps, wall brackets in the shower and bathrooms, that there are no obstacles or dangers for their ambulation ”.
The tips are more detailed in the infographic presented with this note.
Beyond the falls
Specialists also recommend taking into account the psychological effect caused by a fall in older adults.
“The fear of the elderly to repeat the event can sometimes cause limitation of ambulation and depression,” says Chávez.
Rojas notes that a fall creates a lack of confidence that can lead to depression causing decreased defenses and making them more prone to infections and weakening the body, gradually leading to deterioration and dependence that eventually leads to death. ”
"The prolonged stay in bed should always be the last measure to take in the care of the elderly, since this is accompanied by loss of muscle mass and a metabolic and neurocardiac state of inactivity that predisposes to other pathologies," says the gerontologist.
Given this scenario, experts recommend that older people exercise regularly and routinely to improve muscles, flexibility and agility and, therefore, mobility.
“In the older adult it is important to maintain their functionality as long as possible. That is to say, that you have the greatest physical, mental and social independence, because this will have an impact on a better conservation of your health ”, advises Chávez.
"Exercise is the new drug and should be dosed with a previous evaluation of a specialist (kinesiologist) for each person," says Rojas.
The individual evaluation will take into account the physical resistance presented by the elderly, the diseases they have, the state of muscle strength, body weight and the availability of time and space, explains the physiotherapist.
The specialist points out that there are four types of exercises that can be carried out by the elderly, but stresses the importance of a previous personal evaluation to identify which exercises they need and which ones they can perform.
It states that resistance or aerobic activities increase and improve breathing and heart rate. Among them are: hiking, running, dancing, swimming and cycling.
Strength exercises help strengthen muscles, such as lifting weights or using elastic bands.
Balance exercises prevent falls and improve reflexes. Routines with therapeutic ball, dance and tai chi, are the ideal exercises.
Stretching and yoga exercise routines are ideal for improving flexibility, stretching muscles, ligaments and tendons. In addition, they help the body stay relaxed and prevent injuries.
“If the older adult is in a healthy cognitive state, but is physically dependent (in bed, in his room), the exercise can take him out of that physical state and return degrees of independence, thus freeing the family from some responsibilities (dressing him , position changes, feed it, hygiene habits) ”, concludes Rojas.
In Bolivia there are more than one million older adults
In Bolivia there are more than one million adults over 60 years of age, according to the projections of the National Statistics Institute (INE), which in 2017 predicted that there were 996,415, a figure that would rise.