Healthy People 2020 is a program designed to improve the overall health of Americans. At InnovAge we’re particularly interested in how this program can help older Americans, especially through prevention and exercise.
Prevention programs are available throughout the country from a variety of organizations. These range from flu and pneumonia prevention to education about chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart failure, and dementia. .
Prevention is very challenging because some older Americans live in remote areas with very limited transportation to healthcare services and experts who specialize in treating older adults. Improving rural healthcare capabilities is extremely important for older adults.
For those older adults who have chronic illnesses—about 92% of older adults in the U.S. have at least one chronic illness—quality of life can be greatly improved through prevention programs and physical activity. Fewer than 20% of older Americans exercise and even less do weight training, even though both help improve balance, endurance and the ability to live independently.
Chronic illnesses sap strength and a loss of strength often leads to falls for older adults. One out of three older adults fall and the injuries can be disastrous financially and physically. Falling once creates apprehension about falling in the future, which often leads to even less movement and increased risk of more falls.
While it’s important to know and understand physical limitations, conventional wisdom says: if you’re not physically active you lose your ability to stay physically active. So check with a healthcare provider to see what’s right for you or your loved one.
Patricia Litvak, MD, an expert in medical issues facing aging adults, is lead medical director at InnovAge
This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.