Aging and Physical Frailty-Can It Be Helped?Written by Vincent R. Moloney MD
Aging and physical frailty in our society can be seen at every hand. Have you noticed a change in your aging parents or even a change in yourself? If not then possibly you are not looking. Maybe you are not as bouncy, not as strong, reflexes slowing; balance a little off, etc. Possibly a little worry about falls or accidents lurks in your sub- conscious mind. If so you are normal and merely displaying common sense.
One of most common injuries sustained in a fall is fracture of hip. In case one thinks this is no big deal consider this: The one-year mortality rate for surgical hip fracture in elderly is a whopping 25% to 30%! (Reference "Ferri's Clinical Advisor", WB Saunders.) None of us wants to play a round of Russian roulette with odds like that.
There are five main factors in falls in elderly: 1.Environmental hazards 2.Unawareness of danger 3.Medication side effects 4.Osteoporosis (softening of bones) 5.Generalized physical frailty
First obvious is addressed. Scour living quarters for hazards and pitfalls and eliminate them. The bathroom is particularly dangerous especially slippery surfaces. Protect these and provide handrails. Watch that non-slip mat doesn't become more slippery than surface it is covering, this happens.
Educate individuals involved as to possibility of fall and dangers and hazards.
Review medication for possible side effects conducive to falls.
Prevent and treat osteoporosis that makes bones more likely to fracture.
Lastly we address subject of this article, physical frailty. Is this decline an inevitable consequence of aging? Yes, it is. Can it be avoided? Well, not entirely but fortunately it can be slowed and minimized because a significant part of it is due to disuse!
Any human faculty or ability, mental or physical, can be strengthened by training or repeated use. Conversely, any faculty can and is weakened by neglect and infrequent use.
Prolong Your Life With This Attitude-"I've Gotta Hustle"Written by Vincent R. Moloney MD
As we get older we gradually weaken and lose some or a lot of our ability to do things. There are two reasons for this deterioration and they are process of aging and decline in usage of our abilities.
Any power, strength, faculty or ability that we possess as human beings, mental or physical, can be strengthened by repetition and increased usage. Conversely, opposite occurs when we do just opposite and stop using our abilities. When our faculties are relieved from being needed and required to function and are no longer used body realizes this and allows something to happen called "atrophy" which comes from Greek for "shrinking". This results in a loss of function. It happens to physical such as strength, reflexes, balance, stamina, coordination, etc. and mental such as arithmetic, percentages, planning, problem solving decision-making, judgment, etc.
While going through life we drop doing things one by one, especially physical, while we are caught up in having too much to do. The biggest change comes when we retire at which time we no longer have to use our mental faculties as well as physical ones. If we allow ourselves to sink into an inactive state we can end up in a sorry state in later life and we've all seen examples of this. Our powers do "atrophy".
We can do something about this. Remember two reasons for deterioration: process of aging and decrease in usage. The process of aging cannot be stopped but perhaps it can be slowed. The loss of abilities due to decreased usage is where we can really make a difference.
First we address easiest part, physical. Institute a good aerobic exercise program consisting of 45 minutes of walking that benefits heart and lungs as well as muscles. Add to this a 20-minute weight lifting regimen for upper body and a few calisthenics and you should be fine.