Keep On Moving

January 1, 2017, Department, by Gina Mullins-Cohen

Gina Mullins Cohen Standing Pond 410

Recently, CBS aired two episodes of the 1960s hit comedy series, “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” The episodes, “That’s My Boy??” and “Coast to Coast Big Mouth,” were first broadcast more than 50 years ago. Watching these episodes, I was unaware of their original air dates. These telecasts, once black and white, are now colorized and the show’s format, as well as the jokes, easily stands up to comedies produced today. A tribute, I suppose, to the show’s creator, Carl Reiner, who is now 94, but also to the show’s headliner, Dick Van Dyke.

Van Dyke has been popping up in social media quite a bit lately. I’ve spotted several clips of him dancing: one in a February 2016 ABC tribute to Disney, where he bounced on stage recreating his role as the chimney sweep, Bert, in the 1964 classic Disney film, “Mary Poppins”; and then in a video that was filmed in his kitchen, where he woos his wife with an array of comedic expressions, jumps, struts and wiggles, reminiscent of old-time Hollywood’s magic.

Most seniors, however, have long given up the idea of skipping across the kitchen floor. They might consider themselves independent, driving and managing day-to-day errands completely on their own, but furtively living life one step at a time because of the very real fear of falling. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the following statistics on the subject:

  • One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ fall each year.
  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

Falling also impacts the quality of one’s life. Because of the fear of falling, many seniors limit social engagements, resulting in isolation, depression and feelings of hopelessness.

This issue of Parks & Recreation magazine looks at the diversity within, and the health and wellness needs of, this segment of the population, as well as at how to help older adults overcome the fear of falling so they can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of being more active — particularly through the various fitness programs offered by park and recreation facilities.

Oh, and did I mention Dick Van Dyke turned 91 in December? What keeps him young? The answer, he states, is one word — movement.

Gina Mullins-Cohen, is NRPA's Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director