Many falls are preventable, but prevention is contingent upon your understanding of the factors placing an individual at risk of falling.
Factors contributing to the risk of falling are internal (physical and medical) as well as external (environmental) factors that could cause an older adult to fall.
Internal Factors – Many older adults experience:
– changes in their muscles and bones, weakness or loss of strength;
– vision changes, such as adjusting to lightness and darkness, sensitivity to glare, and/or decreasing depth perception;
– balance problems, automatic reflexes weakening;
– cardiovascular (heart) difficulties, which can often lead to numbness in the limbs, or loss of blood to the brain, which can cause fainting;
– medications that can affect their judgment and coordination;
– chronic and acute diseases (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, arthritis), which a fall can reveal;
– depression and/or sleep deprivation, making them less alert.
External Factors – An older adult’s environment or circumstances can also increase the likelihood of falling, including:
– clutter, unclear walkways, or lack of support systems, such as railings;
– slippery floor surfaces;
– lack of proper lighting;
Transitioning from another setting (such as their home, independent living apartment, or from the hospital) can also be stressful, especially for those living with dementia, as older adults figure out their new surroundings and daily routines.
Some risk factors considered to have a high association with falls, which are also modifiable, include:
- the fear of falling
- limitations in mobility and undertaking the activities of daily living
- impaired walking patterns (gait)
- impaired balance
- visual impairment
- reduced muscle strength
- poor reaction times
- use of multiple medications specifically benzodiazepines, antidepressants, anti-psychotics and psychoactive medications
Need Help to ensure your safety or the safety of a family member?
If you are a senior or caregiver please use the form to the right>>>
Check “Need Services Referral” and be very specific as to what services you or your loved one needs, and where exactly you or they currently live (city, state, zip code). We will attempt to match you with a qualified professional.
Or Visit our REGISTRY page:
Charitable giving is a significant part of many people’s lives and budgets and individuals are often eager to give back and lend a helping hand to those in need. Unfortunately, not every organization seeking a donation is exactly what it claims to be. If you’re not careful, you could wind up losing your well-intentioned money to a scam.
Don’t let the threat of scammers keep you from supporting the causes you care about. By staying educated and informed about charity cons, you will be prepared to spot a scam and avoid falling victim to fraud.
Recognizing common scam periods
While scams and other ploys can arise at any time, they often increase while emotions are running high — like near the holidays or following a natural disaster — when people let their guard down and are eager to support those in need.
Such scams may request donations from you over the phone, through the mail, via email or even on social media. They might include charity names that are very similar to legitimate charities, or even mention recent genuine emergency relief efforts. Their goal is to look as authentic as possible in hopes of tricking you. Some of them are very convincing, but you can protect yourself with these fraud awareness tips from Western Union.
Take your time
Be wary of any sense of urgency to donate. Scammers will try to work quickly, urging you to donate before you find any holes in their story. “If you get a phone call where someone is wanting a donation, don’t act right away. Do your research and donate to a recognized charity,” advised Western Union Senior Manager of Anti-Fraud Operations John Skoglund. Remember, authentic charities won’t push you for an immediate response, and will be happy to accept a donation at any time.
Don’t Respond to Emails or Phone Calls
Scammers may try to steal your donations by creating fake charities or impersonating an organization you’ve donated to in the past. There are many ways to do this; they might scour your social media accounts to find causes you’re sympathetic to or create a fake organization with a name that’s similar to a legitimate charity.
No matter the scam, they may try to solicit your donations via email or over the phone. Even if you think you know the organization that’s contacting you doesn’t mean it’s not a well-disguised criminal.
Don’t respond to email or phone solicitations, and avoid clicking unverified links or downloading attachments. Instead, go directly to a legitimate charity’s website to find the right donation channels.
Do your research
Want to verify if a charity is legitimate and if your donations will be tax-deductible? You can start with the IRS list of tax-exempt organizations. If a charity has registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3), you will find them here.
Don’t be afraid to ask for details about an organization. The charity should happily provide them. You can also find a third-party source for information such as Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. If the group that contacted you isn’t recognized as a charity by any of these organizations, you should exercise extra caution and think twice before donating.
You can do further research to find out how charities will spend your money and how well they support their mission. Websites like CharityWatch and GiveWell provide ratings and information on charities nationwide.
Pay Using Secure Methods
If a charity is demanding specific payment types like cash or demanding unusual forms of payment like gift cards, this is a red flag. Legitimate charities should be able to accept multiple forms of payment.
You should always pay in a manner that makes sense for you – but keep in mind that credit card payments offer more security than debit cards, checks, or cash. That’s because credit cards aren’t tied to your bank account and have specific protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
Avoid Sharing Personal Information
Never share sensitive information like Social Security Numbers or bank account numbers. Even common data like your name, email address, and home address can be used to steal your identity or run further scams, so guard your information carefully. You should only share your personal info with legitimate organizations that take data security seriously.
The friends and family rule
Only use money transfers to send money to friends and family. Never send money to someone you have not met in person, and never share your banking or credit card information. Legitimate charities will never ask for donations to be sent to an individual through a money transfer service.
Be cautious of email links
Some donation requests may come through emails that house fraudulent links taking you to look-a-like websites. These websites have phony donation pages where fraudsters can capture your personal and financial information. Instead of clicking on links in a donation request email, open a new browser window to navigate to the charity’s official website and donate there.
Trust your instincts
Don’t ignore your own concerns regarding a charity’s legitimacy and never assume you’re “just being paranoid.” If you notice any red flags or feel uncertain about the situation, don’t donate. You may just be right after all.
Reach out for help
If you get a fraudulent charity donation request and you’ve sent them money via Western Union, call the company’s fraud hotline at (800) 448-1492 to report it. If the transaction has not been paid out to the receiver, Western Union can stop the transaction and refund your money. To learn more about scams and how to protect yourself, visit the Western Union Consumer Protection Center at www.westernunion.com/fraudawareness.
Watch Your Accounts and Credit Reports
Keep a close eye on your credit cards, bank accounts, and credit reports. If you see unusual activity on your credit card or bank account, you will need to report it to the financial institution immediately. And if inaccurate information lands on your credit report, it could be a sign of identity theft. Identity IQ offers daily credit report monitoring and alerts that keep you informed anytime your credit report changes.
Increased awareness can prevent clothes dryer fires in your home or senior community. The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them. It is important for everyone to know how to keep themselves safe from fire.
Fact is 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Failure to clean the dryer (34 percent) is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires. More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.
Clothes dryer do’s
- Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
- Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
- Read manufacturers’ instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers.
- Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged.
- Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
- Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.
- Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
- Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow and dirt.
- Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on.
- Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
- Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.
- Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.
- Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can burn.
- If you will be away from home for an extended time, unplug or disconnect the dryer.
Clothes dryer don’t’s
- Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
- Don’t overload the dryer.
- Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
- Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
- Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers’ instructions state “dry away from heat.”
- Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers’ instructions allow).
- Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
- Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
5 Warning Signs it’s Time to Clean Your Clothes Dryer Vent.
1. Drying time for clothes takes longer and longer.
When a dryer vent is clogged, the drying cycle can double or triple in time. You’ll notice that clothes are not completely dry at the end of a regular cycle. A dryer is designed to push out the hot moist air for clothing to dry. If your vent is blocked by lint, the air will stay in your dryer keeping your clothes hot and moist. And when it takes twice as long to dry clothes, your dryer runs longer, putting more wear and tear on it and therefore cutting the machine’s life in half.
2. Your clothing and the outside of the dryer are very hot.
Do you notice that your clothing is very hot at the end of a cycle or the dryer is hot to touch? This warning sign means the vent is not exhausting properly. If your system is clogged, it not only wastes energy, but can cause the heating element and blower in the dryer to wear out faster.
3. You notice a burning smell.
When you run your dryer do you smell a burning odor? Lint, which is very flammable, can build up in the exhaust tube, lint trap and even in the drum casing. If it gets too hot, it can catch on fire, causing a burning smell. (Remember to empty the lint trap often). Discontinue use of your dryer and have it inspected as soon as possible.
4. The vent hood flap doesn’t open properly.
Another visual red flag that you’re due for a cleaning: You can see lint or debris around the dryer hose or outside vent opening: or the duct hood flap does not open as it is designed to do. An outside vent that doesn’t open when the dryer is running means air flow has been restricted due to lint buildup.
5. It’s been longer than a year since your last inspection.
Dryer vent ducts should be inspected at least once a year to reduce the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you hire a professional to clean your vent, expect to pay between $75 to $150, depending on the length and location of the vent. If the exterior exhaust vent is easily accessible, you can try cleaning it yourself with a brush kit. Some of the DIY cleaning kits do not always properly clean the vent duct. One advantage to hiring an experienced professional is he or she has likely seen just about every make and model of dryer and has the appropriate brush and equipment to effectively do the job.
As the seasons of fall and winter progress, there are rituals and celebrations that dominate our lives. For the many aging in place professionals that we train, their clients have family members who will fuss over them, include them in dinners and outings, spend time in their homes and add joy to their lives. And for some, none of those experiences will happen.
Caregivers are often the family members all year long but find the work especially poignant this time of year. So what are some great ways to support your client or loved one through the winter season?
Keeping them safe and positioned to thrive is the best gift! We can suggest these helpful tips to family members looking to find the best way to help professional caregivers provide quality care.
Certainly, the gift of time and communication is always the most appreciated. Setting a regular time or day of the week for a phone call, Skype or Facetime visit for non-local family members can be invigorating and improve our overall wellbeing.
There are also some practical safety tips for your client or family member during this time of year. The first is home maintenance; cleaning gutters, clearing pathways of leaves, debris or snow, checking fireplaces, dryer vents and furnace filters – even de-cluttering, taking magazines and papers off the stairs, and checking batteries in motion-sensor or dusk to dawn lights. Doing these activities safely often involves the right equipment and tools. Getting help with these tasks for your client or loved one may be the most important gift this year!
Remember, too, that the changes from daylight savings time to standard time means we need to check the lighting inside the house because it is dark earlier.
We should also check the outside lighting, too. If solar lights are the primary path lights, check the batteries and the placement to ensure that the lights can collect as much sunlight as possible to work effectively.
The longer, darker hours can create a greater sense of isolation so plan for additional activities or again, this may be a good time to embrace the technology of communication to help your clients stay connected to others. We can wrap our care around clients and family members with a personal emergency response system (PERS) too. This will improve peace of mind for your client or loved one as the weather gets colder and more challenging. You can learn more about personal emergency response system here: https://agesafeamerica.com/medical-alert-products/ and you can fill out the form for more information or assistance.
For even more safety tips on these topics and more for clients, yourselves and your families, too, please go to AgeSafeAmerica.com.
Fritzi Gros-Daillon, MS, CSA, CAPS, UDCP, SHSS
Director of Education and Advocacy
Age Safe® Live Well.
Veterans Day 2019 Age Safe® America
Veterans Day 2019 is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast.
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Age Safe® America is proud to be a training and outreach partner with the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Members of the (SAH) team have participated in the Senior Home Safety Specialist training and ASA will be training professionals serving our veterans with home modification programs. The VA provides grants to Servicemembers and Veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities to help purchase or construct an adapted home, or modify an existing home to accommodate a disability. Two grant programs exist: the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant.
If you are a Veteran or serving Veteran clients, please explore these opportunities to help:
The VA’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program has a streamlined application process for veterans with specific physical injuries or loss that is designed to create a barrier-free living environment. This program offers up to $90.364. for specially adapted home modifications.
There is a Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant for veterans with specific injuries that has a current maximum of $18,074.
There is a Temporary Residence Assistance grant program available to eligible veterans and service members who are temporarily residing in the home owned by a family member. The maximum amount available to adapt the family member’s home for veterans who qualify for SAH is $39,069 and those who qualify for SHA is $7,083.
Learn more about eligibility and the application at: https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/adaptedhousing.asp
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program is also available. There is a lifetime benefit of $6800 for veterans or service members with a service-connected condition. These funds can be applied to projects allowing ingress or egress, use of sinks, roll-in showers, improved pathways and plumbing and electrical systems to support modifications.
To learn more specifics about the program and application process, go to: https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/HISA2.asp
Learn more: https://agesafeamerica.com/getting-help-to-pay-for-home-repairs-or-modifications/
Recently I had the pleasure of presenting to a Parkinson’s support group in my home town. It was a great group of 30+ people who are affected in some way by Parkinson’s. One of the heavy topics of the day was the cost of medical care, and the decreasing coverage of insurances every year. The leader of the group brought up how Dementias of all sorts are going to provide an enormous strain on the resources of our existing healthcare system within the coming generation. She is not wrong!
Currently there are almost 5.8 million Americans with the disease according to the Alzheimer’s association. It is expected that by 2050, 13.8 million people will have the disease…as much as 1 in 3 people over the age of 85. When we add in other types of dementia, Lewy Body, Frontotemporal, vascular, this number continues to increase greatly and at an earlier age. Baby boomers are growing older and coming to an age when the disease most commonly strikes.
What is Alzheimer’s? It is a form of dementia. Little is actually known about what combination of factors causes Alzheimer’s disease, though it is believed that genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposures (improper diet, chemical exposure, etc.) are all contributors. We do know that three specific brain changes that contribute to this: 1. A protein builds up in the brain causing plaques. 2. A second protein also accumulates causing tangles. 3. This combination causes nerve cells to die and the brain actually shrinks in size.
The most commonly recognized symptom is a memory problem, but the disease does not always start this way. Sometimes it is a difficulty processing new information, make decisions on complicated factors, plan new events. Sometimes it shows up as having difficulty with finances. I had a customer who was a CFO of a company, his first presentation was that he thought he was able to trade stocks and proceeded to trade his and his spouse’s retirement accounts to zero. They were millionaires, and his wife did not notice he was doing it until it was too late. Additionally, a person may hallucinate things are there that aren’t, or smell or hear something that is not there. I had another customer who could smell apples in the middle of the night. She would get up and look for the apples and had several falls.
It is important to note that it is not always easy to see the memory issues up front as it is not always the most prevalent sign. Some people have “large cognitive reserves,” high initial IQ, lots of education, jobs that required lots of brain power or were demanding, and are very good at hiding their symptoms or compensating. They are good at making sure you don’t see it. However, as this disease progresses, confusion about time and place, difficulty speaking and writing, poor judgement, changes in personality, aggression and agitation, and decreased recognition of loved ones starts to present. Eventually people lose the ability to speak, walk, sit, and even swallow.
Even though the majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years and older, it is not considered a normal part of aging. It does sometimes occur in younger people. There are about 200,000 people with Alzheimer’s who are younger than 65 years old. Risk factors include family history, type II diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, brain trauma, being female, African American and Latino descent.
The average person with this disease will live 4-8 years after diagnosis and almost half of that time will be in the more severe phases of the illness, requiring around the clock care. This is quite often more care than a loved one can provide. Families quickly learn how expensive long term care solutions can be. Caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost $290 billion this year alone. By 2050, the cost will rise to $1.1 trillion. It is by far the most expensive disease in the USA! This single disease will bankrupt Medicare. This is considering Medicare only covers the initial skilled episode. They do not cover the long term care for the person with the disease.
Far greater than the financial toll, is the emotional one. Families fall apart from this. They experience the loss of the person that they know right in front of their eyes. It is cruel and difficult to observe the person you once know disappear slowly into this disease.
Knowing how expensive and prevalent this is, we are attempting to provide environmental and technological solutions to assist in the caregiver burden, and provide strategies to keep people safely in their homes for a greater amount of time. We know that as time moves along with this illness, expenses arise including private duty caregiving, transportation, medication management, and safety strategies. We at SeniorSAFE will assess your home and make the necessary changes to decrease risk of falls and reduce caregiver strain.
Guest Post by:
Kristopher Rench, OT, OTD, OTR/L, CLVT, CMT II, CSHSS
CEO, SeniorSAFE, LLC
Age Safe® America Advisory Team Member
Copyright © *2019* *SeniorSAFE, LLC*, All rights reserved.