Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2011 — Older people who walk more slowly than their peers may be at greater risk for complications and disability following surgery, according to a new study. In fact, a small amount of physical exercise could profoundly protect the elderly from long-term memory loss that can happen suddenly following infection, illnesses or injury in old age.
Researchers from the University of Colorado said surgeons should assess the elderly differently than younger patients and take walking speed into account when determining surgical risks.
“This approach may lead to a more individualized way of deciding who should undergo surgery. We are designing tests to get away from chronologic age, and instead are now focusing on physiologic age,” said study co-author Dr. Thomas Robinson, an associate professor of surgery, in a American College of Surgeons (ACS) news release.
Frailty, a condition marked by muscle loss, fatigue and a lack of physical resiliency, can be revealed by a slow gait or walking speed, the researchers said. In these cases the stress of an operation could lead to serious complications, they said, which could be avoided by assessing walking speed in a simple test before surgery.
5 Misconceptions about Exercise and the Elderly
Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.
Fact: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Myth 2: Elderly people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest.
Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for the elderly. Period. Inactivity often causes seniors to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses.
Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.
Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.
Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old, to start exercising
Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.
Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down.
Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.
This blog was provided by Jason Monroe. Thanks to JRS Medical for continuing to make a difference in the lives of seniors throughout America.