The Danger of Falls

HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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rails in dangerous places are also culprits. Most falls are the result of a combination of factors.


But falls are preventable. There are many things you can do to keep from falling:


•  Ask your doctor to evaluate your susceptibility to falls and suggest preventive options.

•  Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications to see which ones may cause problems such as dizziness or drowsiness. This should    include both prescription and over-the-counter medications.

•  Learn exercises that help with balance and practice them regularly.

•  Do exercises that make your legs stronger.

•  Have a yearly eye exam and update your glasses.

•  Go through your house and dispose of anything that may be in the way and is easy to trip over, especially loose rugs and clutter.

•  Add grab bars in and near your shower and at your toilet, in hallways and in the bedroom.

•  Add rails to your bed and put rails on both sides of stairways.

•  Make sure there is enough light in shadowy places and on steps.

Falls a real danger for people entering their golden years. One minute Amanda was coming down the stairs in her home. The next minute, she was lying face down on the floor at the foot of the steps. She remembered the fall; she recalled scraping her nose on the rough pile of the carpet, getting a kind of a rug burn and hitting her head. She could not get up because her limbs were weak and useless. A neighbor discovered her and called 911.


An hour later, in the ER, Amanda had CAT scans taken of her head and neck. The scans and X-rays showed a bone spur had broken off a vertebra in her neck. The doctor told her, “You are really lucky. There is no treatment, no surgery needed, but there will be pain, just like with any broken bone. It will hurt until it heals.”


And hurt it did. Amanda took off from work for the first week; that was time enough, the doctor indicated, for the worst of the pain to subside. She followed his directions for care, taking several hot showers each day and letting the warm water pour over her aching neck and back. After her shower, she applied warm moist heat for 30 minutes to her neck and then did exercises to stretch it, bending it down and up and to the side. The first few days, she found ice packs relieved the pain more than anything.


Amanda went for a massage, which helped as well.

THE DANGER OF FALLS

The masseuse recommended she rub Arniflora Arnica Gel into her skin. This compound was supposed to relieve the inflammation. A friend suggested Epsom salt soaks, and that proved comforting as well. As the days passed, Amanda noticed the morning heat and exercises brought her more flexibility and comfort, and she hurt less the remainder of the day. After two and a half weeks, Amanda was able to discontinue her pain medication. At three weeks, she noticed her neck was not as painful when she woke up, and she knew she was on the road to recovery.


To the young, a fall may not seem very serious. A young person may do nothing more than scrape a knee or bang an elbow, but chances are there are no serious consequences. But older adults are more vulnerable to falling and sustain greater injuries as a result of falls. Each year, millions of older adults are injured by falls; each year, 300,000 older adults sustain hip fractures due to falls. Sometimes even death occurs.


Numerous conditions make seniors fall, including difficulties with walking and balance, side effects of medications and lower body weakness. Home hazards such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs that are easy to trip over or no hand

JEAN JEFFERS

Jean is an RN with MSN from the University of Cincinnati. She is a staff writer for Living Well 60 Plus and Health &Wellness magazines. She has an article in the Fall 2016 issue of Today’s Christian in the Mature Years.

more articles by jean jeffers