Falls can be more than an inconvenience - when you could just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. And according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one out of three adults aged 65 or older falls each year, adding up to a cost of $30 billion in 2010.
So you can see why fall prevention awareness is a big deal. Fortunately there are steps you can take to prevent falls including this list of actions suggested by NIHSeniorHealth. I shortened the descriptions, but you can learn more by going to http://nihseniorhealth.gov/ and searching for fall prevention.
1. Make an appointment with your doctor and be prepared to answer the following questions. What medications are you taking? Have you fallen before? Do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, numbness or shortness of breath when you walk?
2. Keep moving. Try activities that improve your strength, balance, coordination and flexibility such as walking, water workouts, yoga or Tai Chi. And there are exercises where you don’t even have to leave the house such as a) standing on one foot, b) walking heel to toe, c) balance walk, d) back leg raises, and e) side leg raises.
3. Wear sensible shoes. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet.
4. Remove home hazards: boxes, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways. Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas; and loose rugs from your home. Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
5. Light up your living space. Keep your home brightly lit and place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches. Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs. (That was my mistake when I missed the bottom step while taking out the recycling in the dark and breaking my hip.)
6. Use assistive devices. A cane or walker can help keep you steady. In addition install hand rails for BOTH sides of stairways, add grab bars for the shower or tub, or install a sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub.
These are all relatively simple steps you can take to prevent falls and maintain your independence while avoiding the fine young doctors in the emergency room.
Last week I mentioned the AARP Money Management program offered by the Area Agency on Aging (541-298-4101). But Sandy Haechrel, who volunteers for the program, reminded me that she will be available at the Center on Thursday Oct 3rd at 1:30 to help anyone balance their checkbooks or answer simple financial questions. She has been tested, stamped and certified by the Money Management program, so she knows her stuff.
At the Tuesday Lecture on October 1st at 11:00, I will show a Webinar produced by AARP on The Health Law: How it works for you and your family. Then on the 8th Jenny Tran will discuss Vaccines for Older Adults and on the 15th Jim Bishop will discuss the pros and cons of Reverse Mortgages.
And two quick reminders. At the Center on Saturday the 28th there is a Community Parking Lot sale from 8:00 until 1:00. And on Tuesday, October 1st starting at 7:00 PM, The Strawberry Mountain Band will be performing.
The answer to last week’s “Remember When” question is Lucky Strikes Means Fine Tobacco (and the winner of a free breakfast on October 19th is Janet Mabrey.) But Bill Van Nice also remembers from fifty or so years ago, L.S.M.F.T. was used on the local radio stations and stood for “Les Schwab Means Fine Tires”. And Don McAllister had a junior high flashback remembering "Loose straps mean ..." Well, I better stop there - this is a family newspaper.
But this week’s question may be a tough one, unless you were a comix aficionado during the late ‘60’s. Who was the controversial cartoonist that created such countercultural characters as “Fritz the Cat” and “Mr. Natural” and the famous images from his "Keep on Truckin'" strip? E-mail your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788 or send it with the first edition of Zap Comix #1 published in 1968.
Well, it has been another week when someone keeps raising the bar before I can get a drink. Until we meet again, as Will Rogers described the male condition “There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.”