Tag Archives: Falls Prevention Month

Tip of the week: Consider mental dexterity, not just mental effort.

Every September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month at PBE. This September we encourage you to consider the mental side of falls prevention (along with the physical side).

Our weekly tips will be all about ways to keep the brain active because an alert mind is better equipped to keep your body safe.

Truly improving your brain power to become more aware of your body and your physical  Meditation environment requires more than increasing mental exertion, it also requires having mental dexterity. Mental dexterity roughly means having the sharpness of mind to be able to think creatively and to express oneself quickly and easily.

The following activities increase mental dexterity:

  • Meditation: This doesn’t mean anything spooky, like being able to levitate or transcend space and time. It simply means to locate a quiet space where you can clear your mind for 10 minutes or more.
  • Learning a foreign language: Taking up a new language is guaranteed to give your brain a good workout. Children learn languages much more quickly than adults, so learning a new language is kind of like finding the Fountain of Youth for your brain.
  • Drawing, painting, and other crafts: These and other creative activities exercise the right side of your brain, which helps with problem solving. Creativity and intelligence are closely connected.

Follow me on social media (LinkedIn and Google+) for more tips and information to support your brain health.

Tip of the week: Read a great book.

Every September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month at PBE. This September we encourage you to consider the mental side of falls prevention (along with the physical side).

Our weekly tips will be all about ways to keep the brain active because an alert mind is better equipped to keep your body safe.

There is nothing like getting lost in a good book. Besides offering high quality entertainment, Falls Prevention - Brain Engaged regular reading offers so many benefits; for example, reading strengthens memory, expands vocabulary, improves analytical thinking skills, and increases focus and concentration.

Here are some easy ways to motivate yourself and your loved ones to spend more time each day reading:

  • Join or start a book club for seniors.
  • Checkout online book reviews, like NPR books or Goodreads.
  • Head to your local library, used bookstore, or thrift shop and browse the shelves.

A good biography can be really informative and transport you to a whole different place and time. Ron Chernow’s biography about Alexander Hamilton tells the story of a Founding Father who “galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.” You won’t be able to put it down!

What book are you reading now? Share with our community in the comments below or on LinkedIn or Google+.

Photo attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ccacnorthlib/4131076475

Tip of the week: Take a free online course.

Every September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month at PBE. This September we encourage you to consider the mental side of falls prevention (along with the physical side).

Our weekly tips will be all about ways to keep the brain active because an alert mind is better Elderly Brain Engagement equipped to keep your body safe.

Did you know that lifelong learning has benefits beyond being able to impress your friends and family with your ability to recite all of the US state capitals? Research shows that staying mentally active helps to prevent cognitive decline. And with all of the resources available on the Internet, it has never been easier for seniors and people of all ages to learn something new.

Why not take a free online course about something you’ve always wanted to learn? Senior Planet offers the following free courses (plus, hundreds of others):

  • Elementary French
  • Science & Cooking
  • Cars: Past, Present, and Future
  • An Introduction to Psychology

The courses are taught by instructors, experts, and professors from around the world. What an amazing value!

Let’s keep the discussion going on social media. Follow me on LinkedIn and Google+ for more tips and information to help you keep your elderly loved mentally active. 

Brain engagement: The Mental Side of Falls Prevention

The first day of fall, September 22, 2016 is Falls Prevention Awareness Day. So, let’s talk falls prevention.

We are all aware of the physical harms and financial costs that can result from a fall: scrapes Fall Prevention in Seniorsand bruises; broken bones, especially hips, wrists, and ankles; concussions and other head injuries. All of which can lead to emergency room visits and hospitalization. Of course, the best way to prevent these harms is to prevent falling accidents in the first place.

When it comes to falls prevention, again, we tend to focus on physical solutions. We talk about building balance, strength, and flexibility through exercising the physical body; testing vision and hearing; keeping the home free of tripping hazards, increasing lighting, making stairs safe, and installing grab bars.

There’s no doubt that these physical considerations are important. But it is easy to overlook the mental side of falls prevention. Having an active brain is just one more easy way to prevent falls and help to keep our loved ones safe from spills that can lead to further health complications.

Did you know…?

This means that even if the elderly people in your life are relatively high functioning when it comes to their physical bodies, keeping the mind sharp can enhance fall prevention efforts and ensure that their bodies continue functioning well.

What are the best ways to enlist the mind to help prevent the body from falling?

Make sure your loved one is getting proper nutrition and taking the right medications in the appropriate dosages.

Vitamin deficiencies can cause weakness, difficulties with balance, and cognitive impairments. The brain is also responsible for reaction time and reflexive actions. So it makes sense that if the mind is impaired, reaction times could be slower and reflexes less responsive contributing to injury. So getting the proper nutrients is key to brain health. Following a diet that is rich in Iron, Vitamin D, fatty fish, and anti-oxidants supports strong mental health.

Along with proper nutrition, taking precautions when it comes to your loved one’s medications can help keep the mind sharp and prevent falls. Certain prescription drugs, such as diuretics, anti-depressants, and some medications for treating Parkinson’s disease, especially when given in inappropriate doses, may contribute to falls in the elderly because they decrease alertness, reduce motor functioning, or cause dizziness. Support the proper functioning of complex motor and sensory systems within the brain by reviewing the medications and dosages with your loved one’s physician. The right dose can make all the difference.

Exercise is doubly important for keeping both the body and mind healthy.

Not only is exercise important for keeping muscles strong so that your loved one can catch herself when she starts to stumble, but exercise also keeps the mind healthy. There have been several recent studies showing the benefits of exercise when it comes to Alzheimer’s prevention. Science continues to confirm the connection between the mind and exercise. Also, one of the best ways to learn how to control the movements of the body is by exercising on a regular basis and good coordination helps us stay on our feet even on uneven surfaces. So, exercise is doubly important when it comes to the physical and mental components of preventing falls.

Closely connected to exercise is proper hydration. When we exercise, our bodies naturally crave water. Taking in water helps our bodies flush harmful toxins from our kidneys and lymphatic system contributing to the health of our bodies. Hydration is also crucial to keeping the brain functioning well. Did you know the human brain is 75% water? It’s true!

Supporting the proper functioning of our senses.

The senses are important for preventing falls and sensory receptors are dependent on the brain’s functioning properly. Vision and hearing loss are often associated with tripping or a loss of balance. Many cognitive impairments can also impair the senses. For example, strokes can contribute to vision and hearing loss and because of this, having a stroke increases the risk of falls. Keeping the brain healthy is essential to making sure the body and mind are working together in the ways required to maintain proper balance lessening the risk of a fall.

Unfortunately, no matter what we do physically or mentally to prevent our loved ones from falling, sometimes falls happen. In the unfortunate event of a fall, you want your loved one to be as safe and independent as possible. This is where PBE Help comes in. We have products available to keep your loved one Safe At Home and Safe Anywhere she chooses to roam.

Contact us today to discuss how PBE Help is here to catch you and your loved ones when they fall.

Follow me on social media (LinkedIn and Google+) for more tips and information to support brain health and prevent falls.

September is National Falls Prevention Month

Everyone is aware of the health risks associated with heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But often overlooked is another type of serious health risk especially affecting older adults—the risk of injury due to falling.

Learn about the risks

Falls PreventionFalls can lead to injuries, such as bruising, bone fractures, and concussions. Any one of these injuries could require hospitalization, in-home nursing care, or other assisted living arrangements.

To raise awareness about the dangers of falling, the National Council on Aging declared September 23rd, the first day of fall, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Locally, the Grass Roots Organization for the Well-being of Seniors (GROWS) will host several events this month, in and near Montgomery County, as part of their falls-prevention initiative. I will be participating by giving a series of talks entitled “Who will catch you…when you fall?”

I hope to see you there!

Take action

Educating yourself about the risks is only the first step in preventing your loved ones from taking a life-changing stumble. The next step is to take necessary action to reduce the risks, while being well prepared in the event of a fall.

Many falls can be avoided. When we are out in public, we instinctively keep watch for uneven or slick surfaces that could catch our loved ones off guard. But the risk of falling can be even higher at home because it is easier to take for granted more familiar spaces. This means it is especially important to make our homes as safe as possible. The good news is that a little bit of effort can make your home A LOT safer.

Elderly Fall Prevention

Here are PBE’s suggestions for fall-proofing your home:

  1. Remove tripping hazards: Make all floor surfaces as even as possible: cover wooden door thresholds with aluminum; use a hammer to pound flat any metal that is sticking up. Make sure to remove toys, clothes, and other clutter from the floors, especially before going to bed. Outside, patch or re-pour any cracked cement surfaces and don’t forget to put away the garden hose after watering the plants.
  2. Increase lighting: Recessed lighting and track lighting are easy to install and fairly inexpensive. Nightlights in hallways and bathrooms are an even cheaper alternative to installing permanent lighting. Motion sensors are a great option if you’re worried about keeping energy costs down.
  3. Make stairs safe: If possible, make sure each step in your home is a uniform height. Check for any loose boards or missing screws and replace them as needed. Install lighting and slip-resistant tread, especially on outside steps. Never place objects like shoes or toys on stairs.
  4. Install grab bars in key areas: When it comes to falling risks, one of the most hazardous areas in the home is the bathroom. Along with making sure any spills are mopped up ASAP, it is smart to install grab bars in strategic areas, for example, in the shower or tub and near the toilet.

In addition to making structural improvements around the home, regular physical activity and exercise combining weight training, muscle strengthening, and balance improvement will help reduce the risk of falls for older adults.

Despite our best efforts at prevention though, some falls simply can’t be avoided. If the worst should happen, PBE offers easy-to-use products from emergency response monitors and medical alert buttons, to fall detectors to ensure your loved ones will be well taken care of. Whether out at the grocery store or at home in the shower, you and the older adults in your life can rest assured that help is on the way at the push of a button.

Be pro-active this fall and take the right steps to prevent falls in and around the home. Your loved ones are counting on you.

Tips for Beating the Summer Heat

We’ve officially reached the Dog Days of summer. It’s the hottest time of the year, when we’re longing for those cool, crisp fall evenings. But have you ever wondered where the phrase “Dog Days” comes from?

Dog Days of SummerNo, it doesn’t refer to a furry Golden Retriever lying on the dry, dusty ground panting with his tongue in the dirt. Actually, the phrase originated in Greek and Roman literature in reference to Sirius, the dog star, which rises with the sun this time of year (or, more accurately, appeared to rise with the sun if you happened to live in the Mediterranean around 1200 BC). The Greeks associated the rise of Sirius with an increase in wars, catastrophes, and fevers.

Although modern science tells us the stars don’t shift in relation to our calendar seasons (let alone, cause nations to go to war) there are heat-related dangers we should be aware of and important steps we can take to beat the heat this time of year.

1. Dehydration is an imbalance of the body that occurs when the amount of fluid leaving the body (e.g., through sweating) is greater than the amount of fluid being taken in (e.g., through drinking).

Signs to look for:

  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Decreased urine output

What to do:

  • Sip small amounts of water
  • Drink electrolyte-rich beverages, such as sports drinks
  • Suck on ice chips
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Spray skin with lukewarm water to cool the body

2. Heat Exhaustion is a mild heat-related illness that can develop after days of being exposed to high temperatures and not drinking enough water.

Signs to look for:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Elevated pulse
  • Shallow breathing

What to do:

  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Rest
  • Take a cool shower or bath
  • If possible, find an air-conditioned environment

3. Heat Stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to regulate its temperature. Body temperature rises quickly and remains high. Heat stroke can lead to death or disability if left untreated.

Signs to look for: 

  • Extreme fever (above 103˚F) 
  • Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

What to do:

  • Get the person to a shady area
  • Cool the person using whatever methods are available (e.g., put the person in a tub of cool water, spray him or her with cool water and fan him or her)
  • Seek medical assistance as soon as possible

Of course, our best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. To stay safe and healthy: avoid going outside during the hottest time of the day (10am-2pm), stay cool, drink plenty of fluids (Warning: some medications require limited fluids. Make sure to check with your doctor if you are unsure how much you should drink.), decrease physical activity, and wear light-colored clothing during hot weather.

Luckily, fall is just around the corner and we won’t be dealing with the extreme heat much longer. With the start of fall, comes National Falls Prevention Month. I will be participating this September by giving a talk entitled “Who will catch you…when you fall?” Be sure to checkout next month’s blog post for a complete schedule of events, as well as my best tips for preventing falls in and around the home.

September Speaking Engagements

Save the DateFall is just around the corner. With the start of fall, comes National Falls Prevention Month. I will be participating this September by giving a series of talks entitled “Who will catch you…when you fall?”

Here is my talk schedule:

  • September 16, 2015, 2-3pm at Holly Hall, 10110 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD
  • September 22, 2015, 2-3pm at Forest Oak Towers, 101 Odendhal Ave, Gaithersburg, MD

This talk series is in conjunction with the annual falls-prevention initiative of the Grass Roots Organization for the Well-being of Seniors (GROWS).

Also, be sure to checkout next month’s blog post when I’ll be discussing how to prevent falls in and around the home.