Fitness, Falls and Older Adults

Our focus in this issue is Fitness and Falls. The benefit of regular exercise was well established with the MacArthur Foundation’s study of healthy aging in 1998,1 but the difficulties in implementing its recommendations are twofold: how do we encourage our patients to exercise, and how do we prescribe the right kinds of exercise? These two questions are interconnected and the article “Prescribing Exercise” by Dr. Alison Mudge, Robert Mullins, and Julie Adsett offers some answers. Fractures are common sequelae of falls and one type of fracture is discussed in the article “Vertebral Compression Fractures Among Older Adults” by Dr. Simona Abid and Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou. This article is also the basis for our February CME program. I like to say that there is no such thing as a trivial fall for an older adult. Some falls result in trivial injury, but often that is poor good fortune, and a slightly different angle of fall could result in serious damage. Dr. Susan Jaglal, a noted authority in the area of falls among older adults, addresses this in her article “After the Fall: The ABCs of Fracture Prevention.”

We also have our usual collection of articles on various important areas of geriatric care. Our Cardiovascular Disease column provides an “Update in Endocarditis Prophylaxis” and is written by Dr. Jason Andrade, Dr. Aneez Mohamed, and Dr. Chris Rauscher. The changes are quite significant from previous guidelines. Our Dementia column is on “Recreational Activities to Reduce Behavioural Symptoms in Dementia” by Dr. Ann Kolanowski, Dr. Donna Fick, and Dr. Linda Buettner. This issue’s Drugs and Aging column is part one of two on “Vitamin D Deficiency in Older Adults: Implications for Improving Immune System Health and the Prevention of Chronic Degenerative Disease” by Dr. Aileen Burford-Mason. Our Palliative Care column is entitled ”Prescribing Opioids to Older Adults: A Guide to Choosing and Switching Among Them” by Marc Ginsburg, Dr. Shawna Silver, and Dr. Hershl Berman. Our Men’s Health column is “Sexuality and the Aging Couple Part II: The Aging Man” by Drs. Irwin Kuzmarov and Jerald Bain of our partner organization, the Canadian Society for the Study of the Aging Male.

This issue, the first of the new year, also sees some changes in our pages. We’ve added a new section to each article called Clinical Pearls. These short notes suggest directly implementable changes, practices that clinicians can implement in the office to improve their care of older adults. Also, in our ongoing quest for excellence, we’ve expanded our system of peer review to include not only each issue’s CME article but also all the articles on the issue theme. Starting with this issue, all the Focus articles will undergo the same rigorous peer-review process that readers have come to expect of our CME article.

Enjoy this issue,
Barry Goldlist

  1. Rowe JW, Kahn RL. Successful Aging: The MacArthur Foundation Study. New York: Dell Publishing, 1998.