5 Simple Tips to Preventing Physical Decline and Promoting Wellbeing
Contrary to popular belief, falls are NOT a part of normal aging.
Similarly, there is no such thing as a diagnosis of "getting old".
Too often I hear the excuse of "I guess I'm just getting old" when trying to reason away recent falls, injuries or physical decline. BUT the truth is, getting old is not a diagnosis and it is never the cause of any ailment or injury. It IS true that aging does make us prone to new diagnosis and more frequent injuries but it is never the actual cause.
What do I mean?
Here's an example.
Jim recently turned 82 years old. Just after his birthday he begins falling, complaining of increased pain in his knees and difficulty keeping up with his household responsibilities. Jim is experiencing 3 significant changes in his health and function. These changes didn't happen because Jim turned 82 years old, they happened because Jim is experiencing slowing of his reflexive muscle responses that help him maintain his balance, or perhaps he is experiencing increasing neuropathy (numbness in his feet due to nerve damage or compression) that is impacting his balance, he may have increasing arthritic joint inflammation which causes him to have knee pain and all of these symptoms may impact his strength and his ability to stand or balance in order to manage his household responsibilities.
Of course, Jim is more likely to acquire arthritis, neuropathy and slowing muscle reflexes as he ages but his age is NOT the direct cause of these changes.
Why is this important?
Because if age is the root cause of illness or decline, there is nothing that can be done. BUT when we can understand the true root cause and have a clear diagnosis, we can introduce strategies and methods of treatment to help prevent the illness or minimize the symptoms.
In Jim's case, participating in regular outpatient physical therapy to help keep his muscle reflexes strong while improving his balance and strength is one way to help prevent falls by treating the root cause. He may also change his diet, move to a drier climate or have joint replacement surgery to help improve his knee function and reduce the arthritic pain. Perhaps he will try a new medication to better manage his neuropathy. These are just a few ways that Jim may be able to address recent symptoms and physical decline. But creating active strategies to treat these diagnosis are only possible when we have a diagnosis to treat.
Getting old is a hopeless "diagnosis" that never offers a solution because it never looks for solutions.
5 Simple Tips To Preventing Falls and Improving Your Well-being
Don't try to cover it up! Hiding or masking falls, physical changes or declines will only isolate you and cause progressive decline that may have otherwise been preventable.
Seek answers. Ask for help. Talk to your family, your doctor, a specialist, or ask friends who have experienced similar symptoms what and solutions they have found.
Understand the diagnosis. Do your homework. Understand the cause of your symptoms, educate yourself on environmental, dietary, or activity based factors that may improve or worsen the symptoms.
Explore treatment options. Don't be afraid to try a few, discontinue treatment strategies that don't work or explore non-traditional methods too!
Get a second opinon... or even a third! A second option will do one of two things. It will reinforce your first opinion or provide you with a new possibility. Either way, its a win-win!
Though it is true that our bodies do age and, with that, they wear down- focusing on the actual root causes will create opportunity to identify solutions and proactively treat symptoms to promote a hopeful future, greater independence and better quality of life with the wonderful years left to live!