We’ve written before about various strategies for reducing falls among older adults. Keeping walkways or interior spaces free of trip hazards is important. Good shoes are important. So are exercises that help you maintain balance and strength. Medication management might also be a factor.
Here’s one we hadn’t heard before: diet. That’s right. According to a new study from the Institute for Aging Research, eating a protein-rich diet that includes both animal and plant sources could help prevent falls.
“Eating a diet rich in protein may preserve leg muscle mass and strength as we age, which could mitigate risk of falls,” said co-author Marian T. Hannan, associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. According to the study, animal protein helps build muscle mass, but plant proteins may help preserve muscle strength.
Each year one in three adults ages 65 years and older fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and up to 30 percent of those falls result in serious injuries, such as fractures or brain trauma. One in three is a pretty alarming statistic.
That’s why at Daystar Retirement Village we are so focused on reducing the risk of falls. We have designed our facility with special consideration for residents who might have limited mobility or impaired vision. We have ongoing classes to help residents improve or maintain their fitness, strength and balance. And, residents always have abundant choices of fresh, healthy foods in our restaurant-style dining rooms.
That said, until we read this article, we didn’t realize that menu choices—beyond eating foods that promote general health and wellbeing—could reduce the risk of falls. Eating fish, chicken, beef and pork help build muscle mass, which makes sense, but plant protein can help preserve muscle strength.
It turns out that the kinds of foods that could help preserve muscle strength are easy to find if you know what to look for. The list includes lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. Here is a link to an article about the top 10 plant proteins.
If you want to read more about specific recommendations regarding protein and older adults, this article at MedicalXpress.com is a good one. According to the article, men need about 3 ounces of protein per day and women need about 2.5 ounces, but it explains how to get a combination of plant and animal protein into your diet.
With fall upon us, it’s the perfect time to introduce more lentils and beans into your diet. A warm bowl of three-bean chili sounds pretty good on a rainy afternoon. Your legs will thank you for it.
If you would like more information on fall prevention, our Care Director, Rickie Chipman, will be giving a presentation on October 22,2015. Please join us!