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.
But most falls are preventable, and 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 search 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, or the Yoga, Strong Women or Tai Chi classes at the Center. 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 (Does anyone wear high heels anymore?), floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. And 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 remove loose rugs in 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.
6. Use assistive devices. A cane or walker can help keep you steady, so you can get around without falling. 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.
The Center is starting an eight-week series called “Lectures for the Curious” on Wednesday, September 26th at 11:00. Billy O’Keefe will be the first presenter discussing the fascinating topic of Astronomy and the Cosmos. Billy who has taught Astronomy classes will be bringing his solar telescope as well as demonstrating how to use apps such as SkyView on your tablet to enhance your understanding of the night skies.
Also on the 26th, Kerry Cobb, Executive Director at the Columbia Center for the Arts, will be back at the Center at 1:00 with a colorful and entertaining 60-minute presentation exploring the nature of seeing through art. Using art as a platform, you’ll discover ways to sharpen your awareness and be more observant of your environment, and learn ways to interact more enjoyably with art.
The eight protesters who were arrested and tried for conspiracy and inciting to riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago were called the “Chicago Eight”. (I didn’t receive any responses for this week’s question, but from last week I missed Sharon Hull who remembered it was “Around the World in 80 Days” and wins one free quilt raffle ticket.)
One last political question before we are inundated with all the political noise before November 6th. For this week’s “Remember When” question who was the American politician, poet, and long-time Congressman from Minnesota who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1949 to 1959 and the United States Senate from 1959 to 1971 and sought the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination challenging incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson on an anti-Vietnam War platform? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or send your answer written on the back of a “Get Clean for Gene” T-shirt.
Well it’s been another week sitting at my desk trying to stay awake in the afternoon. Until we meet again, the goal isn’t to look younger but to be able to continue doing what you enjoy.
“You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.” Bob Hope