This section provides tips on how to live healthily and safely as we age.
Tips for Healthy Living
The factors that influence successful ageing are multidimensional. The links below provide information on some of the common health issues and factors that can impact us as we age:
Fall Prevention and Bone Health
The HSE and HSE funded services reported 35,187 falls in 2018. Hospital management alone costs alone are €45 million annually (NOCA 2018). Your risk of falling increases with age. As life expectancy continues to improve the number of fractures will increase. (Kelly 2018).
Do not wait until a fall occurs- take preventative action, as the risks are modifiable.
We cannot stop the ageing process, but we can counteract some of the effects with gentle tweaks to our lifestyle. Previous falls (with or without injury) are one of the biggest risk factors of falling again. Guidelines recommend that if you have had a fall you should get yourself reviewed if this has not been done automatically. Mention it to your GP, Physiotherapist or other Health Professional at your next routine appointment. If you are not seeing someone regularly, make a specific appointment to see someone to discuss it.
Regular physical activity and weight bearing activities strengthens your muscles whatever your age. The muscle strengthening and balance exercises can be provided in local Community physical activity programmes such as ‘Go for Life’ or Otago. A Physiotherapist, other Health Professional or trained providers in health centres or community groups e.g. Sports Partnerships, active retirement groups. ‘Let’s Get Moving’ is another initiative designed for older persons ‘cocooning’.
Osteoporosis is present in 90% of hip fractures. 50% of people over 80 years of age have osteoporosis. After the age of 35 bone loss begins to occur very quickly. The cells responsible for breaking down bone (osteoclasts) work harder than the cells building bone (osteoclasts). If the bone loss is severe, osteoporosis can develop, causing the bones to become porous and fragile. A healthy balanced diet will ensure you get enough calcium to maintain bone strength, 700mg per day to prevent osteoporosis (National Osteoporosis Society leaflets- Health Living for Strong Bones). Vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium, can be obtained from exposure to sunlight and some foods. Community Pharmacists will advise on supplements as they are not suitable for everyone.
Reference: Kelly, M.A., McGowan, B., McKenna, M.J., Bennett, K., Carey, J.J., Whelan, B. and Silke, C. (2018) Emerging trends in hospitalisation for fragility fractures in Ireland. Irish Journal of Medical Science, 187(3), pp. 601-608.