As we age, the risk of falls and chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, and dementia, increases. Fortunately, healthy lifestyles and living in communities that support health can help prevent the onset of chronic disease.
A healthy lifestyle helps keep both your brain and body healthy
Dementia is not a specific disease but is used as an overall term to describe symptoms of memory loss and impaired ability to think and make decisions. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Though the cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia is not fully known, these healthy habits have been shown to help reduce your risk and prevent chronic diseases:
- Stay active with physical activity that increases heart rate and blood flow for at least 150 minutes a week.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, especially berries and green leafy vegetables.
- Get a good night's sleep with at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Schedule regular checkups with your doctor for routine screenings and vaccinations.
- If you choose to drink, keep alcohol to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women.
- Quit smoking. To get help with quitting, please visit the California Smokers’ Helpline.
- Use a helmet when riding a bike, and take small steps to prevent falls that can cause head injuries.
- Engage and connect with your community to participate in health promotion and wellness activities and events.
For more information, please check out the Know Where Alzheimer’s and All Dementia Hide in Santa Clara County webpage.
Have you or a loved one felt unsteady or fallen recently?
You can reduce your risk of falling by knowing the risk factors and taking simple steps towards a steady, fall-free future. These are health risk factors for falls that increase as we age:
- Balance and mobility challenges
- Taking multiple medications
- Impaired vision
Steps to Prevent a Fall:
- Speak with your doctor right away if you fall or are concerned about falling. You can assess your own fall risk and share it with your doctor.
- Stay active to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. Make walking, Tai Chi, or another exercise part of your weekly routine.
- Have your eyes checked by your doctor once a year to update your eyeglasses and adjust for vision changes.
- Make your home safer by using this checklist to identify trip hazards.
Are you a professional working with older adults?
Learn more about our Healthy Aging Program initiatives and how to get involved below.
Falls Prevention of Santa Clara County Taskforce
The Falls Prevention of Santa Clara County Taskforce works to reduce older adult falls risk through advocacy, resource development, and provider education. Taskforce members include clinicians, occupational therapists, senior center directors, academics, and other professionals.
To learn more about the initiative and upcoming events, sign up for the quarterly e-newsletter here. Further provider information on falls prevention is available through the CDC Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) website.
Healthy Brain Initiative
Funded by the California Department of Public Health Alzheimer’s Disease Program, the Healthy Brain Initiative aims to build and raise awareness of brain health and its risk factors and cognitive decline risk reduction education.
Safe Routes for Seniors
Safe, convenient places to walk are critical for older residents. Older pedestrians are more likely to be involved in a traffic collision that can result in injury or death.
The Public Health Department and cities throughout the county are prioritizing the needs of older pedestrians through Safe Routes for Seniors (SRFS) and Vision Zero strategies aimed at eliminating roadway injuries and deaths. SRFS engages older adults to collect data on barriers to walking safely in their local communities and how to advocate for safe walking infrastructure.
Age-Friendly Cities is a global effort established by the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify and address barriers to the well-being of older adults across eight domains of livability. Cities that are age-friendly have policies, services, and infrastructure designed to support older adults. The Seniors’ Agenda of Santa Clara County leads this work locally, and all 15 cities within the county have been recognized by the WHO as Age-Friendly.
How to Get Involved
Age-Friendly service providers celebrate the diversity of our senior communities, promote inclusion across generations, and are responsive to age-related needs. If you are a service provider, community leader, faith leader, or do other work that reaches older adults, here are some simple ways to contribute to a more Age-Friendly community:
- Use positive, representative images of older adults that celebrate aging.
- Be mindful of language that may negatively portray aging.
- Create inclusive opportunities for civic and cultural engagement.
- Find ways to connect different generations.
- Ensure programs and services are accessible for people of all ages and abilities.
Learn more by visiting Age Friendly Silicon Valley.