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Fall Prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls

Falls put you at risk of serious injury. Prevent falls with these simple fall-prevention measures, from reviewing your medications to hazard-proofing your home.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Fall prevention may not seem like a lively topic, but it’s important. As you get older, physical changes and health conditions — and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions — make falls more likely. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Still, fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Instead, consider six simple fall-prevention strategies.

1. Make an appointment with your doctor

Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off medications that make you tired or affect your thinking, such as sedatives and some types of antidepressants.
  • Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
  • Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

2. Keep moving

Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.

If you avoid physical activity because you’re afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.

3. Wear sensible shoes

Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain.

4. Remove home hazards

Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer:

  • Remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkways.
  • Move coffee tables, magazine racks and plant stands from high-traffic areas.
  • Secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home.
  • Repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away.
  • Store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach.
  • Immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food.
  • Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.

5. Light up your living space

Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:

  • Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways.
  • Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
  • Make clear paths to light switches that aren’t near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches.
  • Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs.
  • Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

6. Use assistive devices

Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:

  • Hand rails for both sides of stairways
  • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
  • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
  • Grab bars for the shower or tub
  • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help or a larger investment. If you’re concerned about the cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence.

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Open House and Ribbon Cutting

The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce will join AgeSmart Community Resources as we open our 801 West State Street location in O’Fallon.  The open house and ribbon cutting ceremony will be on August 22nd from noon – 3:00.  The ribbon cutting will take place at noon and a caregiver panel is scheduled for 1:00 pm.

AgeSmart is your local Area Aging on Aging.  We are here to help you “Age Well Your Way” and help people be independent and successful in their community as they age.  AgeSmart assures that comprehensive services are available for older adults in the community should they need them and maintain a database of all the resources available. Programs provided by AgeSmart, like Meals on Wheels, Senior Health Insurance Counseling are cost effective and help keep older adults healthier and able to remain independent.  Twenty different services are available to everyone 60 plus of all income levels and their caregivers. There is no charge for services only a suggested donation.

AgeSmart also provides a Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services Program. In collaboration with the two Area Agencies on Aging in Missouri, AgeSmart is part of the largest Veterans Directed programs in the country.  The program helps Veterans stay in their homes and provide them options on how to do so.

AgeSmart also works with communities to help them be a place that supports people as they age.  Stop by to see how AgeSmart can help you and your family.  Come to our open house and see what AgeSmart is about.

The New Senior Center

Local Senior Centers working with AgeSmart are reinventing their programs to help modernized their services.  AgeSmart offered Innovation Grants to help centers re-develop their programs to better meet the needs of today’s older adults.  The Bond County Senior Center, Clinton County Collaborative, Millstadt Senior Services, Seasoned Circle Café run by Lessie Bates, the Northeastern Randolph County Senior Center and Senior Services Plus (SSP) all were awarded Innovation Grants.  Great Ideas emerged from the grants such as the WOW (WithOut Walls) concept.  SSP plans to take the senior center on the road in their W.O.W. van.  Keep a look out for new innovations in your neighborhood!

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Telephone Check for Older Adults

 

Social isolation is a growing health epidemic, affecting more than 8 million older adults.
There are nearly 37,000 older adults living alone in the Metro East. 82% of the individuals who participated in AgeSmart programs in last year lived alone among those are Meals on Wheels participants are frail and many need assistance to live safely at home.

To address the need of older adults who are socially isolated, AgeSmart is developing a Telephone Reassurance Program. A telephone reassurance call is one of the most effective means of reducing isolation. AgeSmart will be collaborating with a faith-based organization in East St. Louis to provide Telephone Reassurance program. East St. Louis and its surrounding communities have high concentration of low-income minority population. 25% of AgeSmart’s Meals on Wheels participants are provided in East St. Louis and 85% of the meal recipients live alone. Due to decreasing number of volunteers and increasing costs of preparation and delivery of meals, the meal provider currently provides frozen meals only through a weekly delivery, which limits their opportunity to check on the wellbeing of the clients.

The proposed telephone reassurance program will be built upon the existing volunteer-based model, which serves a limited area in East St. Louis. To get on the list for a call contact AgeSmart at 618-222-2561.

The Beet Box is Coming to AgeSmart

The Beet Box, supported primarily by the Goshen Market Foundation, as well as numerous community partners, has officially hit the road to offer affordable fresh vegetables to individuals. AgeSmart is happy to announce that the Beet Box will be at their location starting on July 15 every Monday from 1-3:00 pm. During that time eligible seniors can also get coupons for the participating farmers markets. The Beet Box accepts SNAP, WIC and Senior Coupons!

“The Goshen Market’s broader vision is supporting a healthy, local food community,” said Jessica Despain, PhD, president of the Goshen Market Foundation and associate professor in the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English Language and Literature. “The Beet Box supports that mission by bringing affordable produce from local farmers and SIUE’s Rooftop Teaching Gardens to neighborhoods and community centers whose residents lack access to healthy foods as a result of food-desert conditions.”

Farmer’s Market Coupons are also available at AgeSmart on Mondays, 12-3:00 pm and Thursdays 9-12:00 PM beginning July 11th. Seniors with and income of $23,107 annually are eligible for Senior Farmers Market Coupons.

The Basics of Medicare

Whether you’re new to Medicare, getting ready to turn 65, are well over 65 or a caregiver of someone on Medicare, there is always something to learn about Medicare coverage.  Things to consider are your current doctors, hospital choice, pharmacy access, and do you travel.  The great thing is everyone can access a personalized health insurance counselor at no cost through their local Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP).

There are four different parts of Medicare: Part A (Hospital Insurance), Part B (Medical Insurance), Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) and Part D (Pharmaceutical Coverage).  Each of these parts cover specific services.  There are only certain times when people can enroll in Medicare. Depending on the situation, some people may get Medicare automatically, and others need to apply for Medicare. The first time you can enroll is called your Initial Enrollment Period. Your 7-month Initial Enrollment Period is usually:

  • The 3 months before the month you turn 65
  • and the month you turn 65
  • Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65

If you don’t enroll when you’re first eligible, you may have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty, and you may have a gap in coverage if you decide you want Part B later.  Everyone’s situation is different.

Most people should enroll in Part A when they turn 65.  This is because most people paid Medicare taxes while they worked so they are eligible for premium free Part A. Certain people may choose to delay Part B depending on their or their spouse’s employment situation. Everyone pays a monthly premium for Part B. Most people will pay the standard premium amount of $135.50 in 2019.  The premium may vary depending on your income and when you enroll in Part B.   Prescription drug coverage through Part D varies by cost, coverage, and convenience depending on the medications a person takes. A SHIP counselor can help you chose the right plan for you based on your individual needs.

AgeSmart is hosting Medicare 101 Training for those of you who are new to Medicare,  recent Medicare recipient or caregiver of someone on Medicare. The date for this training is:

July 9, 2019 at 1:00 pm, and an evening session at 7:00 pm

If you are familiar with Medicare and would like to dive deeper into the details, there is a Medicare 201 session.  The date for that session is:

July 24, 2019 at 1:00 pm and an evening session at 7:00 pm

Both trainings are at AgeSmart Community Resources 801 West State Street O’Fallon, IL  62269.  The sessions are free.  Call 618-222-2561 to register.

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