Falls are no joke–no matter your age! See these tips for preventing falls:
- Talk to your health care provider if you have any concerns about falling, and share your history of recent falls. Consider an assessment of your risk of falling.
- Ask your doctor what type of exercises would be good for improving your strength, balance, and flexibility. Find some activities you enjoy, and bring a friend.
- Review your medications with your doctor and your pharmacist at each visit and with each new prescription. Talk about side effects. Take medications only as prescribed.
- Get your vision and hearing checked every year, and update any eyeglasses and/or hearing aids.
- If you use a cane or crutches, or if you have to hold onto things when you walk, ask your doctor about training from a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn about what types of devices might work best for you (and how to use them correctly).
- Limit your alcohol intake.
- Report any changes in your health condition, including illness, pain, numbness, swelling, or weakness.
- Be aware of your surroundings, and avoid changes in terrain, uneven ground, and slippery surfaces.
- Make your home a safe place
- Make clear paths in and around your house by removing throw rugs, wires or cords, clutter, and other tripping hazards. (Or secure throw rugs with non-slip backing.)
- Make stairs safe by removing objects, repairing faulty steps and/or coverings, increasing lighting, and securing hand rails that extend beyond the bottom step on both sides of the stairs.
- Move frequently-used items to lower shelves and cabinets.
- Use non-slip mats or strips in the shower or tub.
- Install grab bars in key areas, such as inside the tub and next to the toilet.
- Have bright lamps and light switches in convenient places, and use night-lights to help in the dark.
- Provide stable chairs with armrests.
- Wear shoes with slip-resistant soles inside your house.
- If you must, use a step stool with a handle for balance, rather than a chair.
“CDC Check for Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults” at www.cdc.gov
“My Falls-Free Plan” at www.champ-program.org/static/Fallfreeplan.pdf
National Council on Aging at www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention
Sometimes we wonder how and when we should talk with children and youth about illness. We may feel overwhelmed ourselves, and we may want to protect children from the challenges associated with illness. However, children and youth can sense when something is wrong, and they are better able to cope with situations when they know what is happening, feel connected with others, and feel free to ask questions.
Here are some tips to consider:
- Be honest with kids, use the name of the disease, and provide accurate information that meets the child’s developmental level. Children appreciate feeling included, and they appreciate knowing that they can trust you.
- You may want to ask children what they know about the situation. By doing this, you may discover that they have concerns that you didn’t anticipate, and you can address these from the beginning.
- Give them time and space to process the information. Many kids need information in bits and pieces, and they will let you know when they want to learn more and need to talk about things.
- Recognize that it is okay not to have all the answers. Sometimes we can say that we just don’t know. Other times we can assure children that we will provide more information as it becomes available.
- Help children know what to expect, whether this relates to a visit to the hospital, the progression of an illness, or changes related to a loved one’s ability and moods.
- Assure children that they did not do anything to cause an illness and that it is not contagious.
- Encourage children to express their feelings, and don’t be afraid to express your own emotions in front of them. Children need to know that they may have a variety of feelings and that there are healthy and acceptable ways to express them.
- Reassure children that they are loved no matter what and that they will be taken care of.
- Keep routines as normal as possible, which encourages a sense of security. If routines need to change due to an illness, help children participate in new ones.
- Help children find people to talk to, whether another adult, a counselor, or (for older children) peers who are going through similar experiences.
- Be prepared to discuss difficult topics such as death. Use clear, specific terms, and avoid euphemisms such as “passing away” or “sleeping forever.”
- Check in with children as situations change, and notice changes in eating, sleeping, aggressiveness, or withdrawal.
- Spend quality time together, and remind them that you love them.
www.cancer.net The Unbroken Circle: A Toolkit for Congregations Around Illness, End of Life, and Grief
We all get worn out sometimes. But fatigue secondary to disability or aging can really interfere with the ability to function independently. If you find that fatigue is keeping you from doing things you want to do in your life, energy conservation techniques may help you. Energy conservation means looking at your daily routines to find ways to reduce the amount of effort needed to perform certain tasks, eliminating other tasks, and building more rest throughout the day. Keep in mind that not every technique will work for you. These are suggestions you can use and adapt to find the right fit for you. Remember: Energy is like money – you’ve only got so much, so think about what you’re spending it on!
- Plan and prepare as much as possible
- Your input is important as a vital part of the health care team
- Leave the hospital with a safe and adequate discharge plan that meets your needs
- Learn, observe, and ask questions about patient care while the patient is still in the hospital. If you have any concerns about the tasks that you are asked to do at home, tell the health care team.
- Ask for written discharge instructions (that you can read and understand) and a summary of the patient’s current health status.
Preparing the home
- Will the patients need medical equipment and where will they get them? (These may include a hospital bed, shower chair, commode, cane, wheelchair, oxygen, or a walker.)
- Will they need supplies and where will they get them? (These may include diapers, disposable gloves, or skin care items.)
- Will insurance pay for these equipment and supplies?
- Is the home comfortable and safe? Is there room for equipment and supplies? Is there a safe place for medications? Is there a dedicated place for important information?
Home care services
- Are the patients being referred for home care service? If so, what type? (These may include nursing care, physical therapy [PT], occupational therapy [OT], home health aide, and speech therapy.)
- Will insurance pay for these services?
- Do they have the necessary names and contact information for these services?
Special Foods and Diet
- Are there certain foods that the patients can or cannot eat and drink?
- What kind of supervision will the patients need?
- What are problems to watch for, and what should the patients do about them? Who do they call if there are concerning symptoms?
- Are there support groups that might be helpful for the patients or caregivers?
- What appointments and tests will the patients need in the coming weeks?
- What if the patients need more help with in-home care, meals, transportation, or respite? Can the hospital recommend services?
- What services are recommended for emotional and psychological support?
- Were any medications stopped during the hospital stay? Should they be continued?
- What new medications will the patients be taking?
- How long should they take them?
- Should this medication be taken with meals? Certain times of the day?
- Does this medication have any side effects?
- Can it be taken with other medications?
- Will insurance pay for these medications? If not, are there other medicines that would work just as well and cost less?
Sources: “Going Home: What You Need to Know” and “Hospital-to-Home Discharge Guide” at www.nextstepincare.org
“Hospital to Home: Plan for a Smooth Transition” at www.eldercare.gov
“Your Discharge Planning Checklist:” at www.medicare.gov