Did you know that May is Older Americans Month? Not its original name, the occasion was initially called Senior Citizens Month. When it was first decreed in 1963, only 17 million Americans were over the age of 65. Few people paid attention to the designation then. Despite this, more efforts were made to raise awareness of issues affecting the aging population and in 1980 the name was changed from Senior Citizens Month to Older Americans Month.
In 2010, over 40.4 million Americans were over the age of 65, representing a 31 percent increase from the past decade. That means about one in every eight persons is an older American. And today, we’re all paying more attention to the many contributions, needs and issues affecting this ever-growing demographic.
Every year Older Americans Month follows a theme to focus on issues most relevant to those aged 65 and older. This year, injury prevention is being highlighted under the motto, “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.”
Older Americans are more susceptible to unintentional injury. Medical experts estimate that this year emergency rooms and doctors’ offices will treat at least six million people over the age of 65 for this reason. This week, MedCenter TMJ will use the opportunity to raise awareness about TMJ disorders, inadvertent accidents and what you can do to prevent them. Two danger zones for older Americans are food and falls.
Always Ask First
Unless you have made a dish or meal yourself and are certain of its ingredients, always ask what’s inside. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter or waitress these questions either. This will prevent one from biting down unexpectedly on hard objects like nuts or dried foods.
Well-Done Might Leave you Undone
Tough, chewy meats are another danger TMD sufferers face. It is best to order your steak and hamburger cooked medium to medium rare. But never assume the kitchen staff will get the order right. Sending back meats to the kitchen is a surprisingly common event in many restaurants. When your plate arrives, sample the meat with a tiny cut and make sure your dish is cooked to perfection.
Falls and Slips
Some of the most common injuries older Americans experience are slips and falls. But far more is at stake than a bruised ego. Falling down can cause fractures and head trauma. Many older Americans who suffered a fall also sustained whiplash injuries, or a rapid snapping motion of their head. This in turn can result in damage and displacement of the TMJ.
Common Sense Tips
The best defense against slips and falls involves sensible footwear. Get rid of high heels, flip-flops and slippery-soled shoes. Don’t walk around with only socks or nylon stockings on. Routine exercise can also help. It reduces the risk of falls by improving balance and coordination.
Play it safe the month of May for a lifetime of healthy living!
Image Source: www.flickr.com/photos/barthelomaus/11035798