4 tips to stay healthy and help prevent falls as you age

(BPT) – As you age, your risk of falling increases. According to the CDC, one out of four people over the age of 65 falls each year and falling once doubles your chances of falling again. While many conditions can put you at risk for a fall, there are simple steps you can take to boost your overall health to try to decrease the likelihood of falling.

Carol Cummings, senior director of Optimum Life at Brookdale Senior Living, explains how keeping active increases mobility, improves overall health and can help prevent falls. Brookdale encourages its residents to stay active with B-Fit, a specially designed program of fitness classes that supports well-being and functional capabilities, while also providing a social outlet.

How can you lower your risk of falling? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week, incorporating balance, strength, cardiovascular and flexibility exercises. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

1. Balance.

You can improve your sense of balance with exercise and regular check-ups. “Balance is very complex, and many factors affect our equilibrium,” says Cummings. “These factors include our vision, hearing, reaction time and overall strength.” The first thing you can do is have your vision checked, and update prescriptions for glasses or contacts if necessary. Also ask your doctor for a hearing check.

Some examples of simple balance exercises you can do on your own include:

* Walk heel-to-toe for 20 steps. Steady yourself with a wall if you need support.

* Walk normally in as straight a line as you can.

* See how long you can stand on one foot — try holding that position for 10 seconds on each leg. Make sure to do this near a wall or railing in case you feel unsteady. If standing on one foot is too challenging, try this progression:

* Start by holding on to a wall or sturdy chair with both hands to support yourself.
* Next, hold on to your support with just one hand.
* Then hold on with just one finger of that hand.
* When you are steady enough, try balancing for a few seconds with no support.

Overall exercises to help improve balance include tai chi and any other muscle strengthening exercises.

2. Strength training. Improving muscle strength increases your ability to stay mobile and avoid falls. “We all lose muscle mass with age, beginning around age 40 and accelerating as we get older,” explains Cummings. “Strength training is vital to combating loss of muscle and maintaining strength. Your legs and core constitute your base of support. When you don’t have a strong base, you are more likely to fall. Studies show that those engaged in a strength training program improve their balance.”

Some muscle strength training exercises you can try on your own include:

* To build arm strength, slowly lift and lower a set of hand weights while sitting. Use cans of soup if you don’t have weights.

* Sitting in a straight-back chair, straighten one leg out, then relax it back down, then extend the other leg. While doing several of these “kicks,” raise the knee of the outstretched leg a little higher than the bent leg.

* Strength training doesn’t have to involve much movement. You can do isometric contractions by focusing on one muscle at a time, flexing and holding those muscles for 30 to 60 seconds. Start with 10 seconds, increasing as you build strength.

3. Cardio. This means getting your heart going by steady, repeated movements. Find activities you love to do and make them part of your routine, at least 30 minutes most days. Whether it’s swimming, golf, dancing, riding a bike or walking, cardio activity not only keeps you fit and mobile, but releases stress and boosts your mood. Doing activities with a friend or group — or four-legged companion — makes it more fun and easier to maintain.

4. Flexibility. Staying flexible is difficult as we age, and is often neglected. Whether you sign up for a yoga class or do simple stretches at home, it’s important to stretch after a workout to help avoid injury. Remember to take deep breaths when you are stretching to avoid clenching up muscles. Stretching can be done standing or sitting.

* One easy stretch for your arms and upper back while sitting is to reach your arms across your chest in a big self-hug, stretching your hands as far around yourself as you can. Breathe in and out while you hold the stretch for 10 seconds.

Research shows that staying active as you age not only reduces the risk of falling, but also helps lower blood pressure, lowers rates of heart disease and dementia, plus reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Cummings concludes, “Exercise is probably the most important behavior that helps you maintain health and well-being as you age. The biggest reasons to exercise as you get older are to maintain function, to live as independently as possible and to continue doing the activities you love.”

The above content is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content in this article, especially if you have a medical condition. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Falls and fractures: Facts and tips that may limit falls

(BPT) – As we age, we begin to learn – sometimes firsthand – how devastating a fall can be. It isn’t quite as easy as it once was to hop back up and continue on our way.

Each year, more than one in four Americans aged 65 and over experience a fall, which contributes to roughly 3 million emergency room visits and nearly 30,000 deaths per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the majority of falls are non-life-threatening, they can take a serious toll on quality of life and independence.

The good news, however, is that most falls are preventable.

“Being aware of the risk factors and taking the proper precautions can reduce your chances of serious injury, and help you maintain and improve the quality of your health and remain independent,” said Dr. James Metcalf, a medical director with UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement.

Read on for important risk factors and tips for avoiding falls:

  • Lower-body strength – People who have weaker lower bodies or have trouble with balance and walking should take extra precautions. Do exercises that can strengthen your legs and improve balance.
  • Medication – Any time you get a new prescription, ask your pharmacist or doctor about side effects like dizziness or drowsiness. These can affect your balance.
  • Footwear – Pay attention to foot pain as it may be a symptom of poor footwear. Make sure your shoes fit appropriately and are comfortable. Wear low-heeled shoes with rubber soles for good traction. Generally, avoid wearing slippers, shoes with leather soles or high heels. See a doctor if you are experiencing foot pain.
  • Clutter – Most falls happen at home. Rugs or objects in your way can be problematic. Remove clutter, fix steps that are uneven and make sure there is adequate lighting throughout your home.
  • Physical support – If you don’t already have them, install grab bars and handrails in the bathroom and on stairways. Use a cane, walker, crutches or anything else that will help make walking easier.
  • Hearing and vision – Get your vision and hearing checked regularly. Problems with hearing or sight can throw off your balance and coordination. Ask your doctor if you could benefit from some vision or hearing aids.

“Falls are more common than many people think, and all of us are susceptible,” said Metcalf. “So be aware of risks from your medications, stay active, clear your home of trip hazards and talk to your doctor about strategies you could try to avoid a potentially devastating fall.”

Learning Something New Could Boost Your Brain, Bank Balance

Both bodies and brains need exercise to stay fit, and it’s especially important for seniors when it comes to remaining active and engaged as they age. While having a leisurely lunch with friends or successfully mastering your morning crossword puzzle has its benefits, certain activities are more effective than others. And some can even pad your bank account.

Research cited by the Association for Psychological Science has found that seniors who learned completely new skills, such as digital photography or quilting, in socially interactive settings showed the greatest gains in cognitive functioning. That’s true even when compared with other seniors who had been assigned to participate in purely social activities or engage in more familiar activities at home, such as completing word puzzles or listening to classical music.

Get Together and Learn Something New

Since it makes sense to combine social stimulation with mastering mentally-challenging tasks, why not sign up for an online or in-person class with a group of friends? For example, you can enroll as a group in a photography, quilting, or knitting class at a local store or community college, and schedule social events where you can sharpen your new skills.

Want to be more active? Have your group look into a sports league or try a new physical activity together. Things like golf, bowling, volleyball or tennis are great options for larger groups. You get to engage with one another and get moving. If big groups aren’t your thing, ask a friend or two to join you for yoga or tai chi classes. These practices can promote physical and mental engagement as you focus on breath and movement. Not sure where to find a class? If you’re a Medicare Advantage member, you likely have access to a Silver Sneakers-affiliated fitness center that offers classes specifically for seniors. Before paying more than you should, see what your plan covers.

Whatever you choose to do, making a concerted effort to learn a new skill challenges your brain, helps boost your confidence and potentially opens the door to a whole new chapter in your life.

Maybe Make It More Than a Hobby

If you’ve mastered a new craft, such as woodworking, knitting or quilting, you could consider marketing your wares online. E-commerce websites including eBay, Etsy, and Handmade at Amazon have made setting up an online store relatively easy for small sellers. Etsy alone hosted 1.9 million active sellers who brought in $2.84 billion in gross merchandise sales in 2016.

Alternatively, if you’ve got the savvy, take on the task of setting up your own small business site. There are several tech tools, such as Squarespace, WordPress, Weebly and Wix, that allow users to create customized sites for free or with a relatively modest investment. Setting up your own site might encourage you to master a whole new set of mentally-challenging skills.     

Do Your Homework

Seniors who decide to parlay their new passion into a paycheck should research the financial implications of taking in extra income or going back to work. Depending on how much you bring in, earning income could impact the retirement benefits you recieve from your previous employer or affect government payments such as Social Security. Organizations including AARP offer numerous resources for seniors still in the workforce or those thinking about returning to work after retirement. 

Whether you learn something new simply for the brain boost or use your newly-acquired skills to build up your bank account, taking on fresh challenges with friends is bound to benefit body, mind, and soul for years to come.

What to Look out for when Buying a Medical Alert System

With the onset of old age, elders are confronted with the possibility of accidents. Among these accidents, falls are the most frequent and can lead to injury, trauma and may even be fatal.

Besides the initial impact, falls can also be fatal due to the fact the elder may not be able to get up in optimal time if unassisted.

Luckily, with the introduction of the medical alert system, much has been done to prevent unpleasant situations like falls from happening.

As a result, if you are on the market looking to invest in such a system, then here’s everything you need to know before you make a decision.

The Features It Offers

In order to make an informed decision, it is for the best to consult the websites of manufacturers in order to get detailed information on what key features the product offers.

Not only that, you can also make a decision by comparing specifications between competing devices.

Here are a few specs you should look out for:

  • Battery Life. The device does not help much if it requires frequent recharges, so it is for the best to look for the one with a high battery life. Bonus points if it has a backup battery.
  • Fall Detection. In the case of situations where the elder has been injured or rendered unconscious, the device can trigger automatically and issue a warning signal.
  • Water Resistance Feature. Being able to wear the device in the shower or during rain without damaging it. Considering that 80% of falls occur in the bathroom.
  • 2-Way Communication. The medical alert system allows communication with the rescue team through a microphone.
  • Effectiveness. Referring to the quality of the signal if it is able to issue an alarm at all times without interruptions.

medical alert system

What Do the Reviews Have to Say?

Another important step before buying a device is to check what previous buyers had to say about it.

If a product has caught your eye, it is important to get a better picture of how it may address your needs. That is why it’s best to check online to see how the reviews rank it.

Through reviews, you can get a better idea of how the device functions and perhaps even discover peculiarities which wouldn’t have been obvious at a first glance.

Or, you may hear testimonies from clients who have been satisfied with the product and this helps you feel more secure about your purchase.

Many developers themselves take notice of these reviews and address the situation through their own means.

As result, the best approach is to keep yourself informed by looking out for F.A.Q sections or by contacting the manufacturer’s support services.

All for a Good Price

The price of the medical alert system is a bona fide concern to have before committing to a purchase.

As a rule of thumb, it is important to be on the lookout for a product which offers you a plethora of features and has a good reputation among reviewers.

Usually, the industry standard is that manufacturers sell the product through a subscription model. During which you or your loved ones will be able to use the device and have continuous contact with a response and intervention center.

Choose the Best Medical Alert System

We hope this article answered some of your curiosities and that it will help you make an informed decision when making a purchase.

If you are looking for a Medical Alert System which ticks all the boxes mentioned above then Contact Us or call 727-330-7767 for further information.

Is it Time for You to Consider a Medical Alert System?

medical alert systemIs it Time for You to Consider a Medical Alert System?

We all reach a point in our lives when we should consider the powerful benefits of having a medical alert system installed right at home. As more individuals from the Baby Boomers generation cross the 65-year-old threshold, the potential for a fuller, safer life begins to change.

Maintaining independence and living the life you want to live is entirely possible; however, it’s worth considering additional support that guarantees happiness and healthiness no matter what. That starts by creating a safe home.

A medical alert system can create a safer living environment for yourself or your aging parents: It will provide you with:

  1. Your Personal Safety Net: Although your kids and friends might try and check on you every day, they may be miles away, unable to actually assist you when the time comes. A medical alert system is right there with you, in person, helping to mitigate the potential consequences of falls and injuries if you’re all alone. It’s an easy way to stay safer without having to rely on other people.
  2. Medical Emergency Support: Life is unpredictable, which is why it’s hard to know if the time will come when you have a dire medical emergency. A in-home or mobile medical alert system will connect you to medical personnel, you can rest assured your emergency is communicated clearly and effectively in a short amount of time. Accessing a two-way intercom, you can let the operator immediately know what is wrong, providing them with the information to take it from there and ensure help is on the way.
  3. Help with Falls and Breaks: According to the Centers for Disease Control, close to 33% of individuals over the age of 65 fall at least once per year. Although you might not want to think about it, it’s definitely something to consider. As yet another layer of security and peace of mind, you can add a fall detection sensor to your medical alert system which will help you quickly get help if you take a fall.
  4. Family and Friend Reassurance: People care about you. Chances are, you have siblings, a spouse, kids, and even grandkids. They want to know that you are in good hands even if they aren’t able to get to you all the time. For them, knowing that a medical alert system is by your side, they will experience peace of mind.
  5. Comprehensive Solution: Overall, whether you have care at home, people stopping in, close friends, or family nearby, adding a medical alert system, embedded in your home, completes any kind of comprehensive safety solution. It’s the missing piece in the puzzle of aging.

SafetyWatch Medical Alert Systems

Here at SafetyWatch, we want you to be safe and protected. Although we don’t want to think about injuries, they are likely – and are made worse when there’s no protective system in place. We’ve created a responsive solution that is perfect for any home, helping you and your family to achieve some peace of mind finally.

Avoiding Fall-Related Breaks and Injuries

fall prevention in the elderlyAs seniors age, their quality of life often suffers due to the inability to perform many of life’s activities due to a loss of mobility. When an injury occurs due to a fall, the situation worsens. Taking a few steps to help your loved one avoid common injuries occurring as the result of a fall is well worth the effort. Just use the following fall prevention tips to help keep your loved one safe from harm.

Secure Power Cords

Loose cords make it easy to trip. Take a look through the home and take note of the location of electrical cords to lamps, radios, televisions, and computers. Wherever possible, tuck the cords safely behind furniture to minimize the risk of having someone trip on them. You can also use area rugs that stay securely in place to keep the cords out of the way.

Avoid Moving Furniture

It’s always a good idea to refrain from rearranging the furniture in a senior’s home, particularly if forgetfulness is an issue. People get used to the placement of furniture, and it’s easy to rely on memories when walking throughout the home, especially at night.

Install Grab Bars

Even a young person can fall when getting out of the tub. Installing grab bars near the tub provides a safety measure that is useful for everyone.

Never Leave Items in Unusual Places

It is important to return items to their normal location if you want to prevent falls. At the very least, you should avoid leaving things out on the floor where they can easily cause someone to trip.

Encourage an Exercise Routine

Keeping a loved one strong and healthy can help to prevent falls. If possible, enroll your loved one in an exercise routine that encourages balance and stability. You might be able to hire someone to come in and conduct this type of program or do it yourself if you have the time.

Oversee Medication Usage

It is important to review your loved one’s medications to understand if any of them cause dizziness. Knowing what to expect can help you to prepare against the possibility of falling within the home.

Arrange for Vision and Hearing Screenings

Poor vision and/or hearing can increase the likelihood of a loved one experiencing a fall within  the home. Arranging for annual vision and hearing screenings can help to prevent this type of incident from occurring.

If you are responsible for fall prevention in the elderly, you probably already know that the risk of injury due to a fall is likely to happen unless you take steps to prevent it. As people age, their dexterity and mobility are reduced, making it necessary to take additional steps to prevent falls within the home. It’s important to review the living situation along with your loved one’s capabilities if you want to prevent injuries from an unexpected fall.

Fall prevention – Your Solution Against Falls

We hope this article answered some of your curiosities. If you are interested in our in-home medical alert systems or if you have further questions regarding fall prevention, SafetyWatch team members are here to help you.

Contact us or call 727-330-7767.fall prevention

Falls in the Elderly: Causes, Risks, Management

As age progresses, vigor and muscle strength begin to wane. This can lead to a multitude of problems in the later stages of life. Among them, the risk of falling is not one to be taken lightly.

Falls in the elderly are a prevalent issue in the community. They occur more frequently than it is left to believe. Annually, over 40% of elders are victims of such accidents and 75% of these prove to be fatal.

And often times, many other falling cases go undocumented.

Physicians are often left unaware that a fall may have occurred because, due to social pressure, elders are hesitant to report these kinds of incidents.

In this article, we will analyze what are the main causes, risks and ways to manage falls in the elderly.

falls in the elderly

What Are the Main Causes?

Falling can occur from a multitude of possible reasons. It is accepted the chronological age of 65 is that of elderhood. As people get past this age, a number of factors set in play a big part in the occurrence of falls:

  • Intrinsic factors: this category covers the factors which are related to the onset of old age. As the quality of eyesight, depth of field, balance and muscle power begins to decline, basic locomotor functions are affected. This is a direct cause which leads to accidents.
  • Extrinsic factors: a slew of other factors which may cause falls are related to the environment where the elder walks around. For example, environments which demand greater postural control such as slippery surfaces, slopes, bumpy roads are more likely to lead to accidents.
  • Situational factors: decisions or activities which lead to changes in behavior. For example, situations where the elder needs to rush for a traffic light or to catch a bus.

What Are the Risks of Falling?

Falls in the elderly can lead to injuries and hurt. Many of these cases can yield a high risk of mortality, with head trauma being the main cause behind this.

However, there are many other implications which may result from these accidents, especially if they are left unreported.

In some other situations, the elder has a high risk of mortality if there are no means of getting up or someone to help. It is especially important to attend to these situations with urgency, as this significantly boosts the chances of survival.

How to Manage Falls in the Elderly

The key to best address this issue is to focus on preventing falls from occurring. Patients should report locomotor problems to their physician in an open manner.

Also, education on the issue plays a big role in helping the elder accept the need for locomotor aid.

In the case of unavoidable falls, it helps to manage the placements of objects around the house, making open paths for elders to be able to walk without issues.

If, however, a fall does occur, the best course of action would be to provide immediate aid to the elder.

Safety watches are personal safety devices used to alert relatives or authorities in cases of accidents, such as falling, for example.

Our in-home medical landline alert systems are devices which offer immediate distress calls in case of such emergencies.

Your Solution Against Falls

We hope this article answered some of your curiosities. If you are interested in our in-home medical alert system or if you have further questions, the SafetyWatch team members are here to help you.

Contact us or call 727-330-7767.

Getting help after a fall improves the chance of survival by 80% and increases the likelihood of a return to independent living.

The risk of falling increases with age and declining muscle function reduces the ability to get up. If an older person is unable to get up off the floor after a fall, the risks of any fall are far greater because of the complications that can ensue from lying on the floor for a long time—for example, pressure sores (often exacerbated by unavoidable incontinence), carpet burns, dehydration, hypothermia, pneumonia, and even death. The high proportion of seniors not transferred to the hospital, the inability to get up has a poor prognosis in terms of injury and recovery following a fall. Lying on the floor for a long time is thus one of the most serious consequences of a fall. Read more Getting help after a fall improves the chance of survival by 80% and increases the likelihood of a return to independent living.

12 Tips to Avoid Falls

Wear shoes and slippers that have non-slip soles. Avoid wearing socks only – they might cause you to slip.

  • Be extra careful if your bathroom floor becomes wet. If your bathroom has handrails, hold onto them when getting up or down. Make sure non-slip strips are in your bathtub.
  • If you wear a bathrobe or nightgown, be sure it is short enough to avoid tripping on.
  • Don’t leave any clothes, magazines, bags, or other objects lying around on the floor – you might trip over them.
  • Place loose electrical cords or telephone wires out of walking areas.
  • Before you go to sleep, place your glasses within easy reach. Get out of your bed or chair slowly. Sit up before you stand.

Read more 12 Tips to Avoid Falls