I think it is fair to say that getting older is no walk in the park. I feel like as soon as you hit that 30 year mark your body forgets how to do its job. All of a sudden you have knee issues, persistent back and a bunch of other niggles that basically annoy the living heck out of you.
Don’t worry we understand, we are all at different stages of that inevitable process. Now before this gets all doom and gloom, we want to clarify, right out of the bat this segment is for those that want to make the best out of their situation. Whether you're 30 years old or 65 years old, the advice and suggestions we’re about to cover should serve as a way to help you take control of certain aspects of life. So in a nutshell this is a good thing, okay?
Great, now that we have addressed the elephant in the room let’s get cracking on! Okay, so you might be a bit older, a bit more seasoned and by now you might be regarded as a veteran at your place of work. You’ve spent the last 20, 30 maybe even 35 years working your behind off to be able to make life for you and your family. And we applaud you for that, well done!
But that being said, we all know that, that sort of commitment to a goal for that period of time comes with significant sacrifices. One of which is usually ourselves, we put the work and family first and ourselves last. Now, I know this is not the case for some of you but just bear with us here we’re speaking the average person that falls within this specific demographic.
DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS, SUGGESTIONS AND PRESCRIPTIONS ARE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIAN AND OR ALLIED HEALTH PRACTITIONER, REGARDING YOUR SPECIFIC NEEDS. THE VIEWS IN THIS ARTICLE IS OUR OPINION AND SHOULD NOT BE USED TO TREAT OR DIAGNOSE ANY CONDITION
Geriatric is the medical definition used to define any condition related to older patients. So in this case we are referring to the older generation within the workforce that have or are significantly at risk of developing a work related injury or condition.
Now granted, the term geriatrics is usually used to describe individuals of 60 and older; but we’ve decided to modify it a bit to include all working class citizens in the age group of 50 years and older. So please bear with us, we’re not trying to be too overly technical here!
Now this may seem like a stupid question to ask, because the simple and straight forward answer would be: Because they’re old? Yes, older people are more at risk that is the given, but in this context we’re looking at the older demographic that find themselves working in this day and age. What we mean by this is that due to the current socio economic climate, a lot more people have no choice but to work for longer periods of time. The days of people retiring at 55, getting a gold watch and living by the beach are over. The average working class citizen needs to keep working until 65 and in many cases even up and until 70 years old. This need to put food on the table has forced the older generation to keep working, thus significantly increasing their risk of getting hurt.
Now, usually we would give individuals the option of seeking out medical care or provide them with a cost effective solution. However, when it comes to this demographic there is simply no two ways about it, you have to seek medical attention.
Whether it is for preventative needs or to help with an existing condition or injury, you will need some form of professional intervention. This mainly due to the fact that the older you get the more complicated, in most cases, your healthcare becomes. That is why you will always need to consult a professional.
That being said, just because we can’t help you before doesn’t mean we can’t help you after the fact! What we mean by that is once you see your doctor and get the help you need, there are a few things you can do to improve your daily habits, which will hopefully reduce your risk and improve your health.
Let’s get right into it shall we?
What the geriatric working population can do to reduce their risk of injuries at work:
Tip Number 1: Postural Control
Posture, as we get older our posture tends to take a turn for the worse. Our muscles get shorter and less elastic, our bones become brittle and our balance gets all out of whack and this all leads to most of the older generation assuming a hunched over position as this is the position they feel most safe in. And once they try opening their posture up, they experience discomfort and pain, so they refrain from doing these types of movements. All this does is reinforce the bad posture and the cycle gets worse and worse.
In order to improve your posture you will need to start looking at the way you stand, the way you sit and the way you move. The latter we will cover in the next tip, but the two former points are actually quite easy to implement. In terms of your standing posture, just focus on getting as upright as possible. Think “Captain America” stance, something along those lines, where your core is engaged, and your chest slightly pushed out. This will significantly help reduce back and other joint pain.
Tip Number 2: Mobility
Being more mobile will force you to use your muscles more, this will in turn reduce muscular atrophy and de-conditioning of your body. Now I know moving isn’t something that is very easily achieved by the older demographic, but we’re not talking about running a marathon or dead-lifting 250 pounds. We are simply asking you to move a bit more intentionally. Use the stairs at work instead of the elevator if it’s just one floor, walk the dog, go for a walk with your significant other, park further away from the entrance of the shopping center or set a timer on your phone or watch that reminds you to walk around the house every hour or so. These are all activities that are safe and can be easily done and most importantly, don't cost you anything extra!
Additionally, being more mobile will also improve your posture when walking or running, as you will be using and engaging your muscles more often.
Tip Number 3: Exercise
The exercise we’re referring to here is namely walking, cycling and swimming. These are some of the most researched exercise modalities for this demographic. They are safe, inexpensive and most importantly they significantly improve your health. All of these exercises are low load bearing and help improve cardio-respiratory fitness, which in turn improves your overall cardiovascular health.
Again, please consult your primary care provider before engaging in any form of exercise.
Why is this important?
I guess some might argue that since you are already towards the end of your working career, why should you bother making all this effort. Fair enough, you do have a point, but that point is only relevant to the last years of your employment. But what do you think will happen after that?
Research shows that most people start to physically deteriorate once they retire, if they don’t maintain some level of activity other than their activities of daily living. This is the last place you want to be, as this is where life becomes very very unpleasant.
And that is why this is important, because when it comes to this age group it isn’t so much about efficiency or better production but rather about longevity. I am honestly, not trying to scare that is not what this is about. But I would be doing you a great disservice if I didn’t explain the realities of the situation. By managing your expectations and being upfront with you, I can better assist you in making the right decisions from here on out.
The biggest challenges faced by this demographic is unlearning decades of bad habits, without sounding overly cynical but you guys are kind of stuck in your ways. Getting this age group to try new things is very challenging but so, so rewarding. Once you get past the initial knee jerk reaction that is telling you to reject anything that isn’t in your comfort zone, you’ll be halfway to the best years of your adult life, trust me!
That being said, let’s be honest here for a moment, if you are reading this you’re probably looking for some help. And that my friend is the biggest barrier already conquered. Because the fact that you need help means you know that you might have a problem… And that’s what we are here for, to help you to stay injury free and enjoy the last chapter of your working career.