SENIOR LIFESTYLES: Injury recovery tips

Published 3:54 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

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There is no escaping the fact that the human body changes as it ages. Some changes associated with aging are beneficial, such as increased wisdom and knowledge from past experiences. Others, particularly changes to health and wellness, can be disconcerting.

Generally speaking, recovering from any injury can be a time-consuming process. For those over the age of 60, the process of recovering from injury can be especially lengthy.

According to Restorative Strength, a fitness and personal training service for seniors, elderly adults generally heal from injuries slower than young people. Caring Senior Services says there are a few reasons why healing can be delayed:

• Having diabetes is one of the most common reasons why seniors have delayed healing. The disease can negatively impact wound healing because elevated glucose levels narrow the blood vessels and harden the arteries.

• The inflammatory response in seniors drastically slows down as people age. This response is the first phase when blood vessels expand to let white blood cells and nutrients reach wounds. When delayed, the wounds heal much more slowly.

• Reduced skin elasticity and diminished collagen fibers in seniors can contribute to the body’s tissues not being able to return to a normal state after injury.

• Sedentary seniors may have lost muscle mass and flexibility, which help physically active individuals regain mobility after an injury. Bones also may be more brittle, particularly if osteoporosis is present.

Although it’s impossible to reverse the hands of time, there are steps seniors can take to recover from injuries more quickly, and potentially avoid them as well.

• Slow and steady physical activity: Exercise, including routine strength-training activities, helps strengthen muscles and bones. According to Pioneer Trace Healthcare & Rehabilitation, when complete bed rest is not advised after an injury, getting up and moving even just a little each day can jump-start recovery. Regular activity prior to any injury also may make the body stronger and more flexible to help reduce the liklihood of injuries.

• Maintain a positive mindset. The mind has a role to play in injury recovery. Minimizing stress levels through meditation, and engaging in positive thinking techniques, can make healing and therapies more successful. Reducing stress can boost the immune system, which also will offer healing benefits.

• Improve diet. The body needs certain vitamins and minerals to function properly. Eating a well-rounded, healthy diet can provide fuel that facilitates healing.

• Work with a qualified professional. Seniors should not take on exercise or recovery efforts on their own. Exercising the right way and following prescribed guidelines can speed up recovery and potentially prevent future injuries.

Recovery from injury could take longer for seniors. But with exercise, positive thinking and guidance from health professionals, there are ways to speed up the injury recovery process.