Art of Aging: Protecting bones

In this week's Art of Aging, Lisa Thomas-Laury offers advice on protecting your bones from falls.

According to the American Geriatrics Society, half of all nursing home patients experience falls every year. It is a leading cause of death and injury for older adults.

At Fox Rehabilitation Center, physical therapists perform baseline tests on seniors designed to detect problems with balance, strength and gait.

Therapists can then create an exercise program that safely corrects any weaknesses.

Dr. Tim Fox, Physical Therapist and Geriatric Specialist said, "We don't really have to wait for a functional deficit to occur, something like oh I can't get out of a chair, I'm having difficulty bathing, dressing, grooming, oh I can't get out of bed, I can't walk down my steps, I can't walk to the mailbox, I can't walk to the local store, I have a short of breath, I have pain, or some kind of dysfunction. That doesn't have to be so. We have lots of opportunities to treat those conditions and treat them well."

Dr. Fox who is the founder of Fox Rehabilitation says anyone over the age of 65 should see a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics at least once a year and more if you think you have a problem. He says there are clear warning signs if you do. One is what he calls cruising.

He added, "You might be holding on a chair and the next thing before you take your next step you hold onto the dining room table or you become more dependent on railings."

Another warning sign is fear of doing things you used to do with ease. Dr. Fox says when the weather outside is icy, seniors should mind that fear.

Dr. Fox says "That's your body telling you to be careful because you're not confident in that situation so you need not to go on the ice number one unless it's an emergency, and if it's an emergency, you need to get help".

And he says seniors should be proactive about protecting themselves against falls.

"One of the primary contributors to falls are environmental factors such as lighting, throw rugs, clutter in the house, you've got to reduce clutter and improve lighting so that we can see our way around and not trip over those things," said Dr. Fox.

The American Geriatrics Society also recommends Vitamin D supplements for those at risk of falling. You can find more tips on staying healthy as you age in our Art of Aging section.