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Healthy Living

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

Fall Prevention and Bone Health – under ‘Healthy Living’ section

Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Each year an estimated 684 000 individuals die from falls globally, of which over 80% are in low- and middle-income countries. Adults older than 60 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls. 37.3 million falls that are severe enough to require medical attention occur each year (WHO, 2021). The WHO estimates the annual cost of falls worldwide to be in excess of €400 billion (NOCA 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 the Otago Exercise Programme. 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.

Osteoporosis is present in 90% of hip fractures. In 2019, there were 209,000 people with osteoporosis in Ireland. The prevalence of osteoporosis in the total population amounted to 3.7%, somewhat lower than the EU27+2 average (5.6%). In Ireland, 20.0% of women and 6.2% of men aged 50 years or more were estimated to have osteoporosis (SCOPE, 2021). 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. For more information on osteoporosis, such as prevention, symptoms, and testing, visit the information and support section of the Irish Osteoporosis Society website here.

Major Trauma Audit

The Major Trauma Audit (MTA) is a clinically led audit established by the National Office of Clinical Audit (NOCA) in 2013.

The 2019 and 2020 National Report is the seventh year of the MTA. This report focuses on a time when Ireland’s health service underwent unprecedented challenges due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The report shows the data from 2019 and 2020 and captures the situation in the first 10 months of the pandemic.

The main finding of the 2019 and 2020 report is that falls in the home, especially low falls (less than 2m), continue to be the leading cause of major trauma in Ireland (increasing from 58% in 2019 to 62% in 2020). There was a significant increase in injuries at home during 2020, injuries caused by falls from a low or high height. The proportion of patients injured at home increased from 48% in 2019 to 56% in 2020, consistent with other years, where the home is found to be the main location of injury. The MTA team produced a Home Safety Checklist (see below) which makes helpful suggestions to reduce accidents and prevent injuries in the home.

Useful Contacts: