1st Place Winner
Age Safe America joins the National Council on Aging in observing the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) on Sept. 22, 2017—the first day of fall. In honor of this notable milestone, the theme of the event will be 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls. This event raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. The official social media hashtag for this year’s event is #FPAD2017.
Groups in the Atlanta area took First and Second Place in the 2017 Falls Free® Photo Contest. Over 40 photos were entered nationwide, and competition was extremely tight. The winning photos and stories depict older adults participating in falls prevention programs around the country. First Place went to Asbury Harris Epworth Towers/Wesley Woods Senior Living, “One Foot Forward” in Atlanta. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger! That’s the motto of older adults in this falls prevention class. Stronger means stronger arms, legs, and knees—and learning how to take control of their bodies by how they think, how they move, and how they react.
Second Place was awarded to the Cobb County Government in Marietta, GA. “Pop Up Tai Chi” You might have heard of the “pop up” restaurant trend. Cobb County Government in Marietta, GA, used this free and innovative idea to break down barriers around exercise and the generations. Pop Up Tai Chi opened the door for intergenerational physical activity to promote a healthy community for all residents of Cobb County.
Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. Even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
If you have an aging parent, grandparent, or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible. The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some common factors that can lead to a fall:
- Balance and gait
As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance—primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see. New research suggests hearing loss can also contribute to the risk of falling.
Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
- Chronic conditions
More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.
As part of fall prevention measures, there are several simple and affordable modifications such as lighting and non-slip surfaces that can easily be done by homeowners or family members yet provide immediate safety benefits to residents and visitors. First get rid of anything you or your lived one could trip over. Make sure the home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs. Modifications such as adding grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower as well as next to the toilet, or adding railings on both sides of a stairwell or in a hallway may best done by a qualified handyman or contractor.
Falls in older adults are predictable and preventable. There are many organizations and individuals working hard to increase awareness of the issue and encourage action to prevent falls and injuries from falls. The 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed on Sept. 22, 2017—the first day of fall. Throughout the month of September Age Safe America will be joining national advocacy groups around the country in raising awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older Americans. National, state and local groups, communities and individuals are standing up and taking steps to prevent falls in older adults. Visit the sites below for additional information and resources.
National Council on Aging (NCOA):
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Fall Prevention Center of Excellence/StopFalls.org:
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a):
Age Safe America:
A FALL CHANGES EVERYTHING!
Sunday night September 10th at 6PM the power went out. My wife and I had set-up a nice cave in an inner walk-in closet with pillows, water, flashlights, food and phones. From 8-12PM Irma was on the doorstep of Sarasota and the surrounding communities. Around midnight I received a text from a buddy who lives even closer to the coast saying congratulations you just survived your first hurricane. Soon after that we made the decision to retreat back to our own bed, yet I stayed vigilant throughout the night listening to the howling gusts, awaiting the possibility of a window breaking in.
Monday morning, the power is still out, yet it is a lovely day with a kind breeze and I am sitting on the patio with my wife beginning to write this article. I hear the freeway roar with weary travelers heading back to Miami and throughout south Florida from wherever they went up north for refuge. Families driving home and wondering what their homes may look like, are their neighborhoods flooded, their fences still up, roof still in tact, and if the power is on? And for those that stayed we were assessing damage and simply trying to get over the surreal event. Shelters were still on lock down as per protocol after such an event to assess for safety.
My family and I have been in Florida for 10 years with no real imminent danger from a hurricane. As fate would have it, our first hurricane just happened to be the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, and I had no point of reference. Like many others we were throwing together our “hurricane kit” three days before Irma was to impact our area. Food, water, camp stoves, first aid, flash lights, cash, keys, important documents, tools, propane, etc, etc, etc.
My stomach was upset for days, which is unusual and my head was a bit scattered as if dazed and running on autopilot. I even found myself caught up in the herd mentality for a moment. In those final preparations it is easy to get lost in fear and scarcity especially when you are facing a foe you have never seen. No more water, no more plywood for boarding up windows, no more gas, no more generators. Last minute we spent hundreds of dollars on additional food items building our reserves. In lieu of available drinking water we bought Pellegrino and Gatorade. Constantly thinking and mentally preparing for no power or water for days or even weeks. The psychology of boarding up your windows and using a closet as a shelter is a whole other article.
So how do you prepare for what was being called the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic? First off, as Floridians we live outside year around. Tables, chairs, lounges, sofas, umbrella’s, plants, sculptures and BBQ grills, everything becomes a possible projectile, a menacing object that could be picked up and tossed through a sliding glass door or window. Everything needed to be boarded up, secured or brought inside. We thought of possible flooding in the house and rolled up the nice rugs and put anything of value up on tables. We wondered should we take the art off the walls? Then your monkey mind gets busy. How do I secure the grill when we saw cars turned over by the same storm days before? How will our fence hold up, or for that matter, how will the walls of the home bare the sustained wind force?
What’s the point your mind says, “forget the pictures on the wall, what if the roof goes, then what?”
That brings me to the final decision us and many of our friends and neighbors had to make. Like the song from the Clash, “should I stay or should I go”. Do we grab a last minute flight now 10 X the normal fare? Do we hit the freeway and evacuate voluntarily with a million others all heading up I-75, many of whom were given mandatory evacuation orders? Or do we go to a shelter with people, pets and others’ fear and drama? Our son is part of the Beach Patrol and an EMT and was working a 12-hour shift at one of the shelters, so we had some connection there.
I have spent many nights in camp with bears looking for food as I lay in my sleeping bag under the stars, yet for some reason that did not frighten me like this did. Maybe it’s because I have always respected the immense power of Mother Nature. I was telling some friends, “Irma doesn’t know anything about spaghetti models; she will turn at will.” You can’t fight the wind. Although since this is Florida, a Pasco County Sheriff did in fact have to warn residents not to shoot at the hurricane. “DO NOT shoot weapons @ #Irma. You won’t make it turn around & it will have very dangerous side effects,” the office posted on Twitter.
We made our decision to stay, or as it was being called, shelter in place. As with any time you struggle with an important decision and finally agree on a course of action, it is somehow calming, liberating and empowering. Family members in other states thought we were nuts, but they already knew that. We were as prepared as we were going to be, so now we wait. And as native Floridian Tom Petty wrote in one of his many hit songs, “the waiting is the hardest part”. I likened the 2 days before Irma hit to grade school when before first period the big bully calls you out for a fight ‘after school’ and now you have to wait the entire day thinking about the impending doom of the a** woopin’ you know is now your fate.
Cat·a·stroph·ic (involving or causing sudden great damage or suffering). We seem to hear this word every other day in some obscure place on the globe, but it seems far removed, somewhat insulated from our reality and day-to-day lives. Not in our backyards, not our home, not our neighbors and loved ones. Irma really brought it home for me and millions of others. I now have more understanding and compassion for the pain and suffering of our global family caused by catastrophes that can happen to any one of us, in an instant, on any given Sunday.
A couple days prior to the hurricane my new neighbor Rose, a lovely 83 year old gal whom I helped to get ready for the storm, told me some local folklore. As it’s been said, “two or three hundred years ago the wife (or daughter) of an Indian Chief said a blessing that this entire area and burial mounds be kept safe from the devastation of hurricanes”. As fate would have it, we were spared any significant devastation. As we go about getting our homes and our lives back to normal a deep sense of gratitude begins to sink in. Days passed before my guts relaxed and my conscious mind was ready to let go of the fight-or-flight mechanisms accepting the fact that catastrophe was not ours to endure. The fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. The after effects of such are often feelings of agitation and exhaustion which I myself experienced and heard the same from many other friends.
I pray for all those whose lives have been violently interrupted with devastation. How do you go on, move forward? No home, no belongings, no job, no income; and very possibly no hope. I guess as humans we somehow just do. The human spirit gives us the capacity to see it through. CC Scott wrote, “The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it”. The issue of resilience comes up when we are faced with extreme situations; situations for which we have had little or no occasion to develop adaptive mechanisms. There is no handbook for coping with a catastrophe. There are however some guidelines, and I would highly recommend anyone reading this article to heed those and get prepared the best you can on the outside, the rest is of course an inside job.
This experience has helped me realize in a very personal way what a powerful service our Age Safe America Advisor Members offer to seniors and their family members. Like the older adults they help to ‘age in place’, we chose to ‘shelter in place’, as we did not want to leave our home either. It’s where we feel safe, it is familiar, surrounded by our “stuff” even if the place was a bit in chaos and looked like we were moving, we had our neighbors and friends close.
At 58, I am still one of the youngest guys on my block and did what I could to help the older folks in the neighborhood, and if nothing else knocked on the door and let them know we were staying and I would be available if they needed me. Having been in this home only a short while it was the first time meeting many of the neighbors. To do so in such circumstances was actually a good thing, as we were already bonded in preparing for the coming storm, and subsequently the gratitude and clean-up.
Thank you to all the First Responders (our son Zak included) throughout the states and the Caribbean. It is good to know there are still Real Heroes out there! Also glad we live in Sarasota County! Even today there are buses with water, phone chargers and air conditioning for those still without power as a place of respite. And a high five to corporations like Starbucks who paid their people for hours they lost during mandatory store closures. A simple gesture, a good message.
The catastrophic rampages of Hurricane Harvey and Irma have left many displaced and in need. Organizations are on the ground helping victims. It is never too late for you to donate your time or money.
by Steven Bailey
Age Safe. Live Well.
“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men/women are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Here are a few things you should do before a hurricane:
- Remove weak and dead trees or tree limbs on your property.
- Know whether your home is in a zone that could be flooded by storm surge, meaning you’d have to evacuate.
- Have plans for where you will go if you evacuate, when you will leave (maybe early to avoid traffic jams), and how family members will contact each other.
- If you might have to evacuate, have a “grab and run” bag ready with important papers, such as your home owners insurance policy, and prescription drugs.
- If you live outside possible storm surge zones, and your house is sturdy, you should plan on riding out the storm in a “safe room” inside the house.
- Have an evacuation or survival kit ready with nonperishable food, water, a first aid kit and other things you’ll need.
- Have a battery-powered radio, maybe a battery-powered television set for keeping up with the latest advisories.
- Gather supplies early, including flashlights, medication, food and drinking water.
- Make sure that your home is secure and shuttered. Ask neighbors to assist with preparations, if necessary.
- Make sure that a neighbor or loved one knows your whereabouts.
Of course, if you are living in a mobile home, or a house that isn’t sturdy enough to stand up to the wind, you should evacuate early and avoid the rush. In all cases, early preparation is the key to surviving a hurricane with as little discomfort as possible. If you need assistance at any point, be sure to contact your local social service agencies as early as possible, as agency employees will also be preparing for the hurricane and cannot assist you at the last minute. If you don’t live in an evacuation zone or a manufactured/mobile home, you can stay home if you take these precautions.
Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors. Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Fresh fruit is slightly higher in fiber than canned. Eat the peel whenever possible — it’s easier than peeling or eating around it.
- Have fresh fruit for dessert.
- Eat whole fruits instead of drinking juices. Juices don’t have fiber.
- Add chopped, dried fruits to your cookies, muffins, pancakes or breads before baking. Dried fruits have a higher amount of fiber than the fresh version. For example, one cup of grapes has 1 gram of fiber, but one cup of raisins has 7 grams. However, one cup of raisins or any other dried fruit has more calories than the fresh fruit variety.
- Add sliced banana, peach or other fruit to your cereal.
- Grate carrots on salads.
- Keep prepared carrot and celery sticks, cucumber rounds and other fresh vegetables for a quick, high-fiber snack.
- Choose a side salad instead of fries with lunch.
- Consider alternatives for routine meals eaten out. Choose restaurants with healthier choices such as vegetable side dishes, whole grain breads, fruits and salads. Fast food should not mean high-fat and low-fiber meals.
- Try recipes that use more vegetables and fruit.
Legumes and Beans
- Add kidney beans, garbanzos or other bean varieties to your salads. Each one-half cup serving is approximately 7 to 8 grams of fiber.
- Substitute legumes for meat two to three times per week in chili and soups.
- Experiment with international dishes, such as Indian or Middle Eastern food, that use whole grains and legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.
Grains and Cereals
- Keep a jar of oat bran or wheat germ handy. Sprinkle over salad, soup, breakfast cereals and yogurt.
- Use whole-wheat flour when possible in your cooking and baking.
- Choose whole grain bread. Look on the label for breads with the highest amount of fiber per slice.
- Choose cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Keep whole-wheat crackers for an easy snack.
- Cook with brown rice instead of white rice. If the switch is hard to make, start by mixing them together.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.
Eat Right for Your Heart: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/eating_right_for_your_heart/
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.
National Senior Citizens Day was created to give back to the seniors that have impacted our lives and those who have already given so much. Changing demographics due to improved healthcare have enabled our older citizens to contribute more years of productivity than ever before. This has allowed many to seek second careers and serve as role models for the younger generations. For all that they have done, we owe our seniors our thanks and gratitude. Back in 1988 former President Ronald Reagan was honoring seniors when he signed Proclamation 5847.
“Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today, and gives us ample reason this year to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land,” Reagan proclaimed. “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.”