Note From Carolyn:  I’ve taken a vacation from Meridian for several months as we moved our home and business from Tennessee to Utah to be closer to family. We’re settled in now and for those of you who love our herbal detox, or are just learning about it now through the ads, we’ve got our best sale event of the year going on now! I hope you’ll check it out HERE and help us celebrate our move to Utah with some great savings and improved health!

According to the National Council on Aging, one in four older Americans fall every year. Those unpredictable, dangerous falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65 and over.  Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones and head injuries.  Falls without major injuries can cause seniors to become fearful, depressed and inactive.  Surprisingly, even with those obvious concerns, fewer than half of seniors will make the topic of preventing falls a priority when consulting with their doctors!

My mother was dependent on me and my sister for 10 years before her passing. With her advanced osteoporosis and fragile bones, we were all terrified of her falling, yet there were many preventative things that we just didn’t think about … until she fell one night on her way to the bathroom.  I was just a few feet away!  I felt so terrible until a dear friend who was a hospital nurse told me that those things happen even in hospitals with medical professionals standing in the room.  It was comforting to know that even when we do all this is possible, these falls happen and are truly accidents.

After that fall she was in a nursing home to recover.  I arrived to visit and was surprised to see her wearing a wide belt around her waist,  I learned that although we’d watched her like a hawk, we had no safe way of supporting her if she were to start falling again.  We learned that she needed to be wearing that wide belt around her waist at all times and to have our hands on that as we supported her to grab her if necessary without causing a worse fall – or going down ourselves.  Mom had two or three more falls after that  before she passed, They were equally unnerving for all of us and caused a lot of pain and suffering.

I’m sure you have stories too!  Now I’m in my mid-60’s and have osteoporosis myself.  Many, if not most, of these falls can easily be prevented if we conscientiously make their  prevention of falls a top priority, so here are ten important fall prevention tips … and a bonus!

1.  Include your doctor, family and friends:  At your next doctor’s appointment, review medications or conditions that might affect your balance or risk of falling. You’ll especially want to consider medications that make you tired or affect your thinking, like sedatives and antidepressants.  Have your doctor evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style at your regular appointments to monitor changes from visit to visit.

Let go of pride and ask family members and friends to help you monitor your steadiness and gate.  If they point something out, accept it graciously and be mindful of their advice.  My brother pointed out to my aging mother (as she became more fragile with her osteoporosis) that she was often talking to others and chatting instead of concentrating on walking.  Although it was not her nature, she learned to focus on that all-important safe walking instead of socializing, I’m sure she prevented many falls by taking his advice.

2.  Analyze and monitor your health conditions.  Is there anything that might cause a fall such as dizziness, joint pain, numbness in your feet or legs when you walk, etc.? Take note and do not push yourself to do more than is comfortably possible until you feel better and fully confident.

3.  Learn from the past: If you’ve already had a fall, create a history of how it happened and what you can do to avoid it again.  If you know others who have had serious falls, take note of what caused it and see if there’s any way you can apply it to yourself, home surroundings, etc.

4.  Keep moving and stay strong: Walk, stretch, water-aerobics, bounce on a mini-trampoline with the railing in place, etc. It’s a critical reason for making it a daily part of life to help with balance, strength … and boosting a good mood too!  Bob and I continue to Oxycise (see it at www.Oxycise.com) nearly every day where we stretch and breathe in various yoga-type positions, including on the floor, to keep us limber, flexible and strong.  Who hasn’t got 20-30 minutes every day to have this terrific health benefit?

5.  Wear sensible shoes: While this seems obvious, high heels, strappy sandals, floppy slippers and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble or fall.  So can walking in socks. 

My husband’s wonderful mother loved pretty clothes, shoes, jewelry etc. She was always dressed up and had many pairs of beautiful shoes arranged carefully in boxes in her closet.  When the time came, however, from one day to the next those shoes were G-O-N-E. She got several pairs of sturdy black, grey, and white lace-up ankle shoes to support her feet. She wasn’t happy about it, but she did not complain or create any drama. That was that … with NO complaints.  What an inspiring example she was for me in so many ways, including graciously giving up her pretty shoes.  Passing away at age 81, she did not experience ONE fall!

6.  Avoid loose or baggy clothing: Of course we want to be comfy at home, but loose clothing that’s too long can catch on things, which can be a risk.  It’s important that our clothes fit and are properly hemmed so they don’t drag on the floor or get caught on anything. 

7.  Evaluate and remove obvious hazards and décor at home:  Take a good look!  Is there stuff on the floor? Throw rugs? Planters, magazine racks, baskets, loose carpeting, bath mats that are slippery, etc.?  Once again, they often look so nice but if they’re a risk when you’re tired or at night when the light is dim … out they go!

8.  Bathroom and bedroom safety:  Are there lots of night lights? Clear paths to the potty? Strong rails to hold onto in the tub? A lamp close to the bed that’s easy to turn on for middle of the night needs?  One of the smartest things I’ve learned about is a toilet seat that lights up at night as a night light. How brilliant! And well worth the investment, I think.

9.  Be brave and use assistive devices:  Yes, we’ll have to gather our courage to put aside our pride, but we will be better and safer because of it. Hand rails. Yes! Non-slip treads for bare-wood steps, reflective tape on steps, a sturdy seat in the shower … all these things can make a big difference.  Once again, we just need to be proactive, purchase them and use them! 

10.  Light it right: Install brighter light bulbs anywhere and everywhere … especially in hallways, stair ways, outside porch steps, etc.

And here’s a bonus: 

11.  Get In The Groove Before You Move: Dr. Robert Bunning, Associate Medical Director at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., explains that many people fall at home by moving too quickly from a sitting to a standing position and vice versa.  Preventing falls like this is as easy as taking your time. 

“All you have to do is pause after going from lying down to sitting and from sitting to standing,” he says.  Also take a pause before using the railing on stairs, whether it’s going up or down. 

Links to the detailed articles with more tips are included below.

And now, because I’ved been gone from Meridian for several months and missed sharing with you, I’m also including two of my favorite healthy, super-easy summertime lunches or suppers:

Summer Salad For Two 

While there’s enough for two here, it’s so low-cal and healthy that you can eat the whole thing yourself if you want!

1 to 2 cups frozen mixed veggies (corn/peas/carrots/green beans)
1/2 cup leftover cooked pasta
1/2 cup canned cannelini or pinto beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 large chopped tomato (lucky you if it’s home-grown!)
Low-cal Italian or Italian Lime Dressing

Cook the veggies in the microwave until barely thawed and tender, so they taste like fresh out of the garden.

Mix with the remaining ingredients and ENJOY!

Black Bean Soup
We think this is as good as the expensive soup at Panera!  It’s even better the day after you make it … if there are any leftovers LOL3 cans black beans, low sodium, drained and rinsed
1 large onion
2 cups of water
2 beef or veggie flavored bouillon cubes
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced, or ½ tsp. garlic powder

Bring all ingredients to a boil and gently simmer until the onion is tender, or cook in a crock pot.

Serve with fresh lime wedges, lots of chopped fresh cilantro and corn tortillas that have been toasted in the toaster oven and broken into pieces.

LINKS

Fall Prevention: From the Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/fall-prevention/art-20047358

9 Ways to Prevent Falling At Home: Everyhealth.com
https://www.everydayhealth.com/longevity/future-planning/prevent-falls-at-home.aspx

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She loves to provide mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999.  She has presented for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. 
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