Such luminaries as Sir Isaac Newton– and the folks at Nike, suggest that bodies in motion stay in motion. Local companies that assist senior citizens have taken an active role in helping to keep them from falling into inactivity, or over objects strewn about their homes.
One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, and falls are the number one cause of injuries, hospital visits, and deaths among those 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Candy Wade, who runs Highland Village-based Home Helpers, doesn’t just walk the walk; she does the full workout as she keeps seniors from settling down and out.
Candy was the force behind creating Seniors Standing Tall (www.seniorsstandingtall.com), which aids senior citizens in preventing falls and subsequent injuries.
But, it’s quickly evident that it all starts with the positive, active mindset: thinking young to feel young. Ever the motivator, Wade puts and keeps the spirit going, glowing, and full of zest for life.
Jean McGee, 83, of Lewisville, a veteran of Wade’s programs, is like a walking, dancing ambassador for Seniors Standing Tall. Just six weeks after having a hip replacement, McGee undertook a six week course led by Wade.
“I knew I needed to get going,” McGee explains. “She was really good for me. Candy’s a marvelous teacher. She gives you exercises even if you’re in a wheelchair.” Or, to keep you out of real chairs, if you’re ambulatory but trying to take it too easy.
“She’s always in the neighborhood and I like to continue staying active, so I take as many of her courses as I can,” McGee beams.
Some statistics say that fewer than 10 percent of Americans participate in regular activity, with the most sedentary group being over age 50.
Wade expounds, “The worst thing people can do is to be sedentary, sit in a recliner all day, or at the keyboard.” Wade explains that it’s not just the physical aspects of life that need to be encouraged. It all works together, she adds, “Be sociable – be upbeat. Don’t allow yourself to become isolated and depressed.”
“Each year, as part of the Fall Prevention campaign, we have a theme – something fun, as many people get bored too quickly with straight exercising. This year, we put on a Dancing with the Stars program. The participants have loved it. Our goal is that it’s something that the exercisers will continue with, even after the last segment on September 27th.
“An Australian study found that people who stayed active in this way had a 37 percent reduced rate of suffering from falls,” Wade adds. “But, again, it’s not just the physical improvement that helps people. Dancing has cognitive benefits, too. People have to use their brains to remember dance steps. Hearing songs that they remember stimulates their thinking.”
Wade began as a caregiver for her father, but constantly takes that energy and transfers it to others. “We’ve been able to make a difference in so many lives,” she adds. “As a Master Trainer, I’ve certified many volunteer coaches who’ve spread the word and the physical fitness. We’ve helped people in their 90s as well as those in their 60s. You’ve got to keep busy!”
What has Wade heard from her fountain of youthful senior students? People have said, “It’s changed my life,” and, “My grandkids even noticed the difference.” How does Wade get into their heads as well as their bodies? “I give them dry erase markers and tell them to come up with their own affirmations that they’ll often write on their bathroom mirrors. They’ll start their days saying them, then live them throughout the day.”
What’s coming up in the near future? Wade will be starting a free class series, “A Matter of Balance,” at Presbyterian Hospital Denton, this month. “You’ll get a nice book, learn strategies, get out of the house and be in a great group environment. Caregivers should really attend, too.” Call Wade for more info at 972-318-5054.
As for the advice on avoiding falls and injuries for seniors, Wade suggests, “Make the homes safer. Make sure rugs are properly fixed to the floor; don’t leave clutter around, as seniors sometimes don’t see as well; and don’t have electric cords stretched across the floor. Make sure there is proper lighting – including night lights. Grab bars can help, too.”
But Wade turns back to the mindset here, again, adding, “If a senior is active and in shape, if they do start to fall, it’ll be a lot easier to catch themselves before going all the way down. If you’re sitting too much or on blood pressure medication, and you get up suddenly, you can be affected by Orthostatic Hypertension, in which you suffer a spell of dizziness – which, of course can lead to a fall.”
Cheryl Pitre, (RN, BSN, JD) advises that people who aren’t family members need to come inside a home to look for potential problems. “They don’t always see obstacles, as they’re too familiar with the surroundings. It’s better to have a home health or community health specialist assess the dangers.”
Besides the loose carpets and electric cords, aforementioned, Pitre adds, “There needs to be enough room for walkers. Pet accessories can even become hazards. If something were a danger to a child, it can be something to consider for a senior. Hardwood and slippery floors can be very dangerous. Anything that falls on the floor needs to be picked up immediately.
“Such normal household furniture as chairs that roll easily can become a real danger. Even shower chairs – placed there to avoid slipping and falling – can often be tipped and tripped over if not properly chosen or installed.”
If you’re a senior who’s sitting too much, a caregiver, or just someone trying to give Father Time the best fight possible, Candy Wade can give you the know how and motivation to improve. As, McGee chimes in, “Candy serves the community very well. She’s added a great deal of humor, health, and happiness!”
John LaVine can be reached at [email protected]