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Disease, this study was funded by the National Institutes of Aging and followed 876 people with an average age of 78. The participants had longitudinal memory follow-up including questionnaires about their physical activity habits. “The results of the analysis showed that increasing physical activity was correlated with larger brain volumes . . . Individuals experiencing this brain benefit from increasing their physical activity experienced a 50 percent reduction in their risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.” (IOS Press, n.d.). This article makes me want to put on my walking shoes more! There is no need to correlate exercising with the gym – think of other physical activities you might do. Think about gardening, dancing, doing yoga or stretching on the beach, swimming, or playing with your children and grandchildren. All of these can be fun and contribute to more physical activity. And there are more benefits. One of the most important is that physical activity helps to maintain balance which can help in avoiding falls. According to website NIHSeniorHealth, “more than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year” (n.d.). It is well documented that “falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths.” In addition, we know that hip fractures can be a very serious consequence of a fall. The more we can maintain balance, strength, and overall mobility, the better we can maintain health and bone strength. If you find yourself or a friend, neighbor, or relative declining activities that were once enjoyed for a very real “fear of falling,” it may be time for a physical therapist to evaluate them (or you) for an action plan to improve these important components of health. In addition, and I know this sounds like common sense, but if your loved one or neighbors have a cane, walker, or other “assistive” devices, kindly remind them to always bring it with them and, more importantly, to use it! Even A HEALTHY PERSPECTIVE “The more we can maintain balance, strength, and overall mobility, the better we can maintain health and bone strength.” when one is wheelchair bound, cannot walk, or are otherwise immobilized, there are wheelchair, upper body, and other innovative exercises and programs available. Sadly, I cannot tell you how many times as a visiting nurse I would visit my patients in the hospital after a serious fall and they would report, “I never liked using that thing (a cane, walker, other assistive device) so I did not have it with me when “it” happened, and the next thing I knew I was in the emergency department getting ready for hip surgery.” There are many things we can do to help retain mobility and maintain/improve one’s balance. Think about taking walks regularly if you can. Of course, ask your doctor if, based on your unique history and health, you should be doing more activity and if you might need a physical therapy evaluation for improvement in these important areas. You should also ask them what activities will be safest for you to perform. Keeping active as much as we are able to can help us with the goal of more safely “aging in place!” G M About the Author Disclaimer -This caregiving information is about health and caregiving from a professional and personal caregiver’s perspective. Professional, because I am a nurse who knows about care in the home and making the complex understandable, and personal, because I too am, and have been, a caregiver. Every person’s health and caregiving situation is unique, and readers should seek advice from their medical professionals before making decisions. Tina Marrelli, MSN, MA, RN, FAAN is the author of more than 10 books including “Home Care Nursing: Surviving in an Ever-Changing Care Environment.” Tina has worked in hospitals, nursing homes, public health and as a visiting nurse in home care and hospice for many years. Tina continues to make home visits as a consultant to health care organizations providing care at home and makes presentations about “caregiving” to various groups. The newest book,” A Guide for Caregiving: What’s Next? Planning for Safety, Quality, and Compassionate Care for Your Loved one and Yourself!” is in press. Tina can be reached at tina@e-Caregiving.com


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