Orthopedic care for seniors involves much more than surgery, pain meds, or physical therapy. As important as these are, proactive care and fall prevention can do a lot to slow the effects of aging, keeping older Americans active and independent.
Here are some real-life care and safety strategies.
Keep As Active as Possible
Bone, joint, and muscle strength comes in large part from movement. So, do not fall prey to excessive screen time or sitting around. Get up and move, aiming for 150 minutes of walking or other light aerobic exercise weekly.
Sounds like a recommendation for younger people? Well, it works for seniors, too, increasing endurance, coordination, and overall well-being. Enjoy the mental health benefits of companionship by pairing up with a fitness partner.
Stay Current with Preventive Medical Care
See your primary care physician for your annual wellness exam. If you are 65 or older, ask for a referral for a DEXA scan, a test for bone fragility, and take steps–exercise and medications as needed–to strengthen your bones. Vitamin D and sunshine improve bone health in young and old alike.
Also, discuss any medications that could change your balance and movement. Get an annual hearing and eye examination to avoid falls, and get a prescription for physical therapy with an orthopedic group in your area to work on arthritis and overall strength as needed.
Wear Proper Footwear
Make sure your shoes fit well and have proper support. Avoid high heels and flip-flops. Put on well-fitting slippers if going to the bathroom at night. Whatever shoes you select, make sure they have stable, non-skid soles to reduce the chances of slips and falls.
Use Assistive Devices
Your orthopedic doctor and/or your physical therapist can recommend assistive devices and other durable medical equipment to help you ambulate safely, keep your balance, avoid pain, and more. Examples include:
- Raised toilet seats
- Canes and walkers
- Back braces
- Shower seats and grab bars
- Railings on stairways
Also, for people with arthritis or chronic musculoskeletal injuries due to repetitive motion, orthopedic specialists may advise using walking boots, wrist braces, and other devices.
Eat Well and Stay Trim
Extra pounds place excessive stress on joints, such as the knees and hips, increasing the chances of developing painful osteoarthritis. Cut back on sugar and processed, salty foods, and increase fiber-filled fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Drink at least eight full glasses of water daily, and aim to lose a reasonable amount of weight. Even 10 pounds off will improve your joint health.
Consult an Orthopedic Specialist
If you and your primary care physician have concerns about your musculoskeletal health, see an orthopedic surgeon for an in-office examination, X-rays, and treatment plan. It’s important to catch problems early on before they become difficult to care for. And if you ever do fall, go to the nearest ER or urgent care right away for an evaluation. Fractures, sprains, strains, and other injuries can have serious consequences–both immediately and for the long haul.
Orthopaedic Care for Seniors in Tennessee
Watauga Orthopedics is a full-service orthopedic practice serving patients of all ages throughout Tennessee and southwest Virginia. Our team of 20 orthopedic specialists is passionate about keeping seniors healthy, functional, and enjoying their lives. We offer state-of-the-art surgeries, durable medical equipment, physical therapy, sports medicine, and more. We also feature walk-in hours for those unexpected needs.
To find out more about orthopedic care for seniors, call us today at (423) 282-9011 or request a visit online. We will be happy to direct you to one of our highly qualified orthopedic specialists for a helpful in-office consultation.