Education can balance seniors’ risk of falling

Day by Day
Education can balance seniors’ risk of falling

By LIZ THOMPSON

August 1, 2017

This Week News

Watching children intentionally fall on the ground, doing somersaults and hand springs, is delightful. They might end up with a scratch or two, but it’s all a part of childhood.

Falling in love is another way to fall painlessly. We retell the stories over and over again, like children doing somersaults.

Too many years have passed to remember when I fell down intentionally.

Now when I fall, it’s an accident — and I end up with a lot more than scratches. I have broken bones, bruises and aches and pains that last for weeks.

I adapt daily to stay upright and encourage others to do the same.

Ohio statistics are discouraging: In 2014, Ohioans age 65 and older accounted for 84 percent of deaths by falling and 74 percent of nonfatal fall hospitalizations.

More than 60 percent of these falls happen in the home.

Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in Ohio residents in this same age group. Usually when I fall, I hit my head, which terrifies me. It makes me rethink how I motivate through my day. I’m selective about when and where I go outside the home.

Each week, there are more than 1,500 emergency department visits, close to 400 hospitalizations and 22 deaths due to fall injuries of this same Ohio population.

In 2015, 537,222 of Ohio adults ages 65 and older reported having fallen.

According to the National Council on Aging’s STEADI project, causes of falling include leg weakness, mobility problems, balance issues, poor vision, multiple medications and risky behavior.

“Risky behavior” in this population can mean, as we age, we forget we can’t do things the way we had for many years. It becomes unsafe to carry heavy items while walking, to use ladders, or to stand up and walk before we’re ready.

It’s not worth the risk.

I’ve learned that when I ask for help, most people lend a hand with a smile. They want to help, but don’t know what to do.

Risk factors we can modify include removing clutter and tripping hazards; adding grip bars near commodes and in showers and tubs; installing handrails on staircases; and improving lighting. Those who need mobility aids should use them.

I no longer worry about how I look using a cane, walker or one of my motorized chairs. I’m in the age bracket I’m writing about, not just one of thousands with multiple sclerosis and other conditions that give us reasons to use assistance — conditions that also add to our likelihood of falling.

Do I always listen to my own advice? No.

The phrase “Too soon old, too late smart” suits me, yet I’m determined to become determined about each step I take.

The Upper Arlington Commission on Aging is partnering with Mount Carmel Health to present information on the topic of fall prevention and balance. The free program is set from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 20 at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, 2300 Lytham Road.

Quality of life diminishes once a fall occurs. Prevention is an important key to aging well, and that is one goal of these speakers at the program.

Dr. Victor Dizon, trauma medical director, will present a case scenario involving an older person who fell and sustained multiple injuries to demonstrate how badly someone can be injured from a “simple fall.”

Audiologist Lisa Hansel will discuss an underlying and treatable balance impairment that may cause falling.

Angie Caplinger, a physical therapist, will conduct balance screenings to assess people’s ability to maintain balance in various conditions. The screening indicates if a person is at risk for falling.

Lori Candon, who practices inner nature yoga, will have a short tai chi demonstration between educational speakers. Tai chi has been shown to help improve balance.

Registration is required; call 614-583-5326 by Sept. 13.

“Fall” in line to learn more. With knowledge and care we can lower the statistics and live more fully.

Advertisements

As we grow old, healthful habits become crucial

Day by Day

By LIZ THOMPSON
Tuesday August 23, 2016
This Week News

As we age, everyone seems so much younger. Professionals in many fields might not seem old enough to be out of college, and some drivers look younger than 16.

When we see children flying by on bikes, skateboards or on foot, we remember doing the same — oh so many years ago. We can mourn the loss of our youth or we can learn from it to be the healthiest we can be in the here and now.

We learned good habits as children: Eat our fruits and vegetables (yes, I know we all tried the trick of hiding them in our napkins, and our children thought we didn’t see them do the same), and avoid too much white bread because it offers little nutrition.

Get out there and run, swim, bike, play nicely with your friends and get your sleep.

We didn’t have sunblock lotions as we stayed active outdoors. We had only zinc oxide, which our mothers slathered on our noses and shoulders. Now, years later, some of those freckles have turned to age spots, and other suspicious-looking marks need checked.

There is sunblock now and we should use it.

Time passes, and our physical, emotional and mental needs change along with it. I think most people know what to do to be healthy, but reminders can help keep or get us on track.

Eating right means we don’t subsist on snack food. We still need vegetables, fruits, whole grains, different meat in reasonable amounts, and vitamin supplements. I have an affinity for sweets, but too much is just plain unhealthful.

Our playground has changed to venues such as recreation centers, YMCA’s, senior centers and the like. Exercise has changed, too. We may not go outside to run and skateboard, but now we can walk on a treadmill or around our neighborhood, use a stationary bike, swim and garden.

I garden sitting down — I refuse to give up getting my hands in dirt. Exercise — even as little as a few minutes an hour so we aren’t sedentary — makes us feel better, and when we move as much as our bodies allow, we have more energy and get valuable sleep.

Weight-bearing exercise such as tai chi, yoga, walking, dancing, golfing and strength training are effective and necessary ways to build our bones.

If your mobility is limited, or balance compromises these exercises, look for ways to exercise while seated. Dust off those hand weights.

If you need mobility tools such as a cane or walker, I urge you to use them to help keep you upright and move safely. It’s not giving up; it’s being smart. I have some pretty canes, practical ones and a handcrafted wooden one.

Good health isn’t only physical. Staying connected is vital for our mind and body.

I know seniors who stay active and play cards with friends; volunteer; write poetry, stories and books; teach Sunday school; take part in book or civic clubs; tutor; participate in discussion groups at their senior center; deliver Meals on Wheels; bird watch; do arts and crafts, puzzles and word games; camp; travel; or learn something new. We need to flex our mental muscles as well as the physical ones.

For the third year, the Upper Arlington Commission on Aging is holding a senior symposium. This year’s topic is “Good Habits for a Healthy Mind and Body.”

Dr. John Larry, a cardiologist with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Dr. Douglas Scharre, an OSU neurologist, will discuss how to be proactive in your health to prevent diseases of the heart and mind. Rather than focusing on disease processes and health problems, this seminar will teach positive habits to keep heart and brain health in tip-top shape.

The program will run from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 21 at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, 2300 Lytham Road. Exhibits will open at 8:30 a.m.

There is no cost to attend but reservations are required and seating is limited. To register, call 614-583-5326.

Amy Schossler, director of the UA Commission on Aging, said seniors are proactive and are interested in getting advice about steps, methods and activities to prevent illness and stay active and engaged in the community.

As we revamp our healthful habits and focus on what we can do, we can watch the younger set rush around and thank God we have the time and ability to remember when.

Time passes, and our physical, emotional and mental needs change along with it. I think most people know what to do to be healthy, but reminders can help keep or get us on track.