Fall Prevention: Advice from an expert and Infographic

We review medical alert systems that boast automatic fall detection capabilities notifying caregivers, family, or emergency services in the case of a fall.  In a perfect world however, there would be no falls to detect!  Unfortunately, 1/3 of  Americans 65+ fall each year.  We interviewed Art Rasmussen, the owner of Great Bones, a company dedicated to bone health, about fall prevention and the steps seniors (and the rest of us for that matter) can take to keep our bones healthy and strong.

What is your mission at Great Bones?

“Inspiring a Lifetime of Strength, Balance, and Bone Density”  in my own words our mission is to help seniors live a life without fear.  Our program is designed to improve strength for each of our clients.  As strength improves so does balance and flexibility.  As the client builds strength and balance they also gain confidence.  Confidence relates to everything they do in their daily lives.  From opening a jar, to climbing stairs, to doing the activities that they thought they would no longer be able to do.

preventing falls and fall prevention infographicIn regards to fall prevention, what are some specific steps seniors can take in the home setting (wherever that may be) to prevent falls.

1. Exercise to improve balance and strength.

2.  Have your doctor review your medicines. Medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy and cause you to fall.

3.  See Your Eye Doctor.  Be sure your vision is the best it can be.

4.  Make your home safe.  Keep walkways clear of items that can trip you.  Remove small rugs.  Keep things within reach so you don’t have to climb to reach them.  Improve lighting in your home.

What steps can seniors take to prevent injuries if a fall happens?

Having a regular strength training program will help with balance to prevent falls.  Having strong muscles will help seniors catch themselves.  That ability is probably the help with the prevention of injuries.  More importantly should there be an injury from a fall those that have improved or maintained their strength usually have the quickest recoveries.

If you had to choose two things seniors (and every adult for that matter!) should do everyday to keep bones healthy and strong, what would it be?

1. Strength train with resistance exercises.

2.  A healthy diet.

To learn more about Great Bones, visit their website at www.great-bones.com.

The infographic from our friends at easyclimber.com provides additional information about fall prevention.

3 New Studies Show Impact Of Exercise On Alzheimer’s Disease

Exercise and Alzheimer's DiseaseOn Thursday the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) reported that 3 new (randomized controlled) trials demonstrated the positive impact aerobic exercise plays in patients with varying degrees of dementia. The new well-controlled trials provide further hope to millions that we can impact the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

From the AAIC press release: “There is a convincing body of evidence that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of cognitive decline, and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In healthy older people, studies suggest physical exercise can improve cognition. However, until now, whether physical exercise could improve symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s, or beneficially impact the physical changes in the brain caused by the disease, was unknown.”

“Based on the results we heard reported today at AAIC 2015, exercise or regular physical activity might play a role in both protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and also living better with the disease if you have it,” – Maria Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer

Impact of Exercise on Alzheimer’s Disease

The 3 studies involved in the research were:

  • The Danish ADEX Study, the first large, controlled trial of moderate to high intensity exercise in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s in Denmark. Steen Hasselbalch, MD, and colleagues from the Danish Dementia Research Centre (DDRC), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • A Tau Protein Study, a 6-month randomized controlled trial of moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise in 65 sedentary adults 55-89 years old with MCI (mild cognitive impairment) to test whether aerobic exercise might also lower tau levels in the brain.  Researchers Laura Baker, PhD and colleagues from Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem NC, USA
  • An Aerobic Exercise in VCI Study, a six-month study of 71 adults 56-96 years old with confirmed cases of mild VCI (vascular cognitive impairment).  Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Canada Research Chair, PhD, PT, University of British Columbia and researcher at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health

Each of the 3 studies showed a positive correlation between exercise and the impact it can have on certain dementias.  The Alzheimer’s Association further reports that “There is a growing body of evidence that certain lifestyle choices, such as staying mentally active, eating a heart-healthy diet and staying socially engaged, can slow cognitive decline as people age.” It’s never to late to improve your health!

Click here to see the Alzheimer’s Associations new infographic titled 10 Ways to Love your Brain!

ALZ.ORG: 10 Ways To Love Your Brain

There was a great deal of positive news reported at The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) last week.  Among many topics discussed, 3 studies demonstrated the positive impact that exercise can have on dementia.  These studies further reinforce the notion that WE CAN impact this devastating disease in a number of ways.  Eating right, getting enough aerobic exercise and staying actively engaged with our communities seem to yield positive results for aging adults (with or without Alzheimer’s Disease).

The Alzheimer’s Association recently published a great infographic titled “10 Ways  To Love Your Brain”.  Given all of the new developments of the week, we thought it was appropriate to pass along.

10 Ways To Love Your Brain

impact of exercise on Alzheimer's Disease

Courtesy Alz.org

If you like the infographic make sure you pass it along to a friend!

Caring For Aging Parents

caring for aging parents“The Most Beautiful Home”

In a video that’s sure to require a Kleenex, The Housing and Development Board produced a tear jerking video about a son’s promise to his father.  The promise… “When I grow up, I’ll give you the most beautiful home.”  What we learn from the video is that the home is not just about the place, but the love in the family.  That’s what makes this video so touching, and something that many of you can probably relate to.

The home is not just about the place, but the love in the family.

There are millions of caregivers in the US and abroad.  Many of those caregivers are family members taking care of loved ones.  Make no mistake, it takes a great deal of work (and training) to bathe a loved one, to feed a loved one, and to provide medication management to a loved one.  That’s just 3 of hundreds of duties that caregivers routinely manage on a daily basis.  Caring for aging parents is a very difficult job.

This video is NOT meant to advocate for or against placing someone in a nursing home if your loved one cannot care for themselves.  In many cases, care facilities can provide a fabulous environment for aging adults, while offering safety and care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The key is educating yourself about care needs, and senior housing options BEFORE a crisis hits.

The video certainly is thought provoking, and very well done.  We hope you enjoy it.

Best Places To Retire – Money Magazine

Best Places to RetireTime’s Money Magazine just published it’s “Best Places to Retire” edition and it doesn’t disappoint.  Money takes a look at the top 25 towns in the US for retirees, and some of them may surprise you.  We’ve visited many of these top 25 cities for retirement, and highly recommend those cities in Southern Utah, Washington, and New Mexico.

If you follow The Senior List you know that we love to publish lists like Money Mag’s.  In the past we’ve shared the top international destinations for retirement, the best places to retire for less, best beach towns in America for retirement, and many more!

Here are a few of our favorites from Money’s List of Best Places to Retire:

10 Best Places to Retire – Money Magazine

  1. Tops on the list: St. George, Utah.  32% of St. George’s residence are over 50, and median home prices are only $195,000.  With over 182 miles of biking trails, St. George is the perfect town for retirees that want to maintain an active lifestyle.  We’ve spent many weeks down in Southern Utah.  The national parks, the people, and all the things to do make this a great choice at the number 1 spot!

    Best places to retire - St. George Utah

    St. George, Utah – courtesy Utah SBDC

  2. Number 2 on the list is our neighbor to the north, Richland, Washington.  We were surprised to see Richland rank so high, but it’s close proximity to Portland, Puget Sound to the north, Columbia River (in it’s back yard), and outdoor recreation galore – We like seeing Richland here.  Median home price is $ 203,350, and there is no state income tax in Washington.
  3. Number 3 on Money Mag’s list of best places to retire is Vale, Arizona.  Vale is cooler than many other desert towns, and boasts a median home price of just under $200,000.
  4. Number 4. Fayetteville, Arkansas.  University of Arkansas keeps things hopping in Fayetteville, and the median home prices are only $166,000.
  5. Mt. Juliet, Tennessee rounds out the top 5 best places to retire.  Located just north of Nashville, the median home prices in Mt. Juliet are in the $212,000 range.
  6. Boise, Idaho is one of our favorites out west.  Boise is surprisingly culturally diverse, and is a university town (Boise State among others). Lot’s of outdoor activities including great hunting and fishing close by.  Boise’s economy is strong yet it’s cost of living is quite moderate.  Median home price; $184,500.

    Best places to retire - Boise ID

    Boise, ID courtesy sunsupply.com

  7. Santa Fe, New Mexico comes in at number 7.  Having visited Santa Fe on a number of occasions, we understand why it’s so popular.  Besides it beautiful landscape, Santa Fe is known for it’s art galleries, museums and other cultural attractions.  Great hiking and biking make it ideal for the outdoor  enthusiast.  Median home price; $248,000.
  8. Greenville, S.C. takes home the number 8 spot.  Money says “Greenville now hosts 10 music, food, and art festivals a year. Housing remains affordable, with a median price of $185,000 and average property taxes of $1,100.”
  9. Dover Delaware climbs into the top ten best places to retire at number nine.  Dover is the state capital and considered incredibly tax-friendly. There are no sales taxes or state income taxes, and property taxes average under $1,000! Median home prices are in the $197,700.
  10. Just squeezing into the top ten best retirement destinations is Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Chattanooga is incredibly affordable and culturally diverse.  There are no state income taxes and median home prices stand at a very-affordable $128,000.

    best places to retire - Chattanooga, TN

    Chattanooga, TN courtesy finartamerica.com

That’s quite a top 10 list!  For the rest of the list (all the way to #25) visit Time’s Money Magazine.

Do you have a favorite retirement city that you’d like to share with us?  What makes it unique?  What do you love about it?  We’d love to hear in the comments below!

What Happens When You House a Preschool In a Retirement Community?

A preschool in a retirement communityI may seem like an odd question at first.  What happens when you house a preschool in a retirement community?  The answer is… MAGIC!  Present Perfect is a magical documentary that brings together each end of the aging spectrum.  Interestingly, at each end of the spectrum, there is a greater need for nurturing, and to be nurtured.  The fit makes perfect sense, but now (finally) someone has filmed the scene for us, and set the stage for further development.

Stepping into most any nursing home, it’s hard to ignore the sense of isolation one feels on behalf of the residents living there, and even harder to reconcile that with the fact that old age will inevitably come for us all. In our fast-paced, youth-obsessed culture, we don’t want to be reminded of our own mortality. It’s easier to look away. – Evan Briggs

Picture Perfect Trailer

Film maker Evan Briggs on why the Present Perfect project is important:

Present Perfect explores the very real experience of aging in America- both growing up, and growing old. It was filmed in a preschool housed completely within a retirement home, powerfully capturing the subtleties and complexities of the young children’s interactions with the elderly residents, while challenging us to consider what we’re doing- and what we’re not- to prepare future generations for what’s to come.

What value does a person have to others throughout their life? Are we asking for the right contributions from each other? How do we measure and define a successful life? While this film doesn’t shy away from confronting some difficult realities, it is ultimately a life-affirming story of hope that, we believe, just might lead to serious positive change.

The folks at Present Perfect are in the midst of a KickStarter campaign in order to raise the funds to finish the project in its entirety. You can support them by jumping to the link provided.

Product Review: Better Alerts

Medical Alert Reviews - Better AlertsBetter Alerts is a newer addition to the Mobile Personal Emergency Response System (MPERS) market, a market that’s seen some very exciting companies enter the fray.  These new medical alert system providers are challenging the traditional market dynamics, and forcing others to innovate (or die).

Better Alerts uses a winning combination of an Alert App + a Pebble Smart Watch (paired to a smartphone) to provide a comprehensive alert system.  Better Alerts founder, Doug Hopkins worked for a traditional medical alert system company and heard customers asking for devices that worked with smartphones. After watching “wearable” devices come to life, Doug saw an opportunity for seniors to use that same technology to maintain their independence.  Mr. Hopkins saw the need for something different, and he took action.

Seniors don’t have to stand for having to carry another device for home and mobile protection other than their smartphone and Pebble watch.  The days of wearing a Velcro wrist band with a button that doesn’t have any other functionality such as time, date, steps taken etc. are over.  Seniors can maintain their independence with a stylish functional watch not one of those “buttons”. – Doug Hopkins, Founder

Better Alerts has all the features that we have come to expect with new personal emergency response system companies.  Features like fall detection, alert buttons, activity tracking, medication reminders and a geo-fence that sends location alerts to caregivers

Easy Set Up

The installation of the Pebble app and Better Alerts app was very easy on my Android device (iOS also available) and it only took a few minutes to set up.   Once the Pebble smart watch was paired with my phone (bluetooth enabled), I was ready to enter caregiver information in my personalized dashboard.

better alerts mobile app snapshot

The Pebble Smart Watch as a Customizable Safety Watch

I was curious about why Doug chose the Pebble Watch to host his innovative medical alert app:

We identified the Pebble as the best piece of hardware due to its reliability, the fact that it is waterproof, affordable for seniors, and had good battery life.  The Pebble also is an open platform so it could be developed for iOS and Android where the Samsung smart watch only works with a Samsung phone, same with the Apple smart watch. – Doug Hopkins, Founder

This was my first time using a Pebble and I really liked the product.  In addition to installing the Better Alerts app, I found myself using it for email, texts, and music apps.  It was easy to use once I pushed all the buttons to see what they would do.  The Better Alerts app worked seamlessly with the Pebble and was intuitive as well.  The battery on the Pebble lasts from 5-7 days, depending on usage and charged fully in about 3 hours.

pebble smart watch

Better Alerts Features

Better Alerts offers pretty much everything we like to see in a medical alert system.

  • Pebble Smart Watch is Waterproof
  • Fall Detection Alert- *coming soon* client or caregiver to be able to adjust the sensitivity of the fall detection based on their lifestyle
  • Safe Zone- can be set to a range of 200, 300, 400 yards or 1 mile from home address.  When the Safe Zone is broken an Alert with a Google Maps™ locator is immediately sent to the Caregiver and Emergency Contacts with a live locator following them down the road.
  • Medication Reminders– once med reminders are set up, user and/or caregiver will receive vibrating reminders of med and description displayed on the watch.
  • Activity Reports- the Pebble Smart Watch has a pedometer to record steps.
  • Alert Buttons- within the Better Alerts App on the Pebble smart watch, one button can be used to summon a pre-designated caregiver, another button can be used to call 911 directly.
  • No Long Term Contracts

The Bottom Line

Better Alerts is competitively priced  starting at $19.95/month for a “Basic Plan” with limited features and you must purchase Pebble Smart Watch separately.  The “Total Protection Plan” is $29.95/month and it includes a free Pebble Smart Watch and all the features Best Alerts has to offer.  I’m impressed with all the features wrapped up in this little watch and its companion app.  It was also very easy to set up.

Better Alerts might be too complicated for seniors that aren’t tech savvy.  Some folks might also be confused by the multiple buttons on the Pebble Smartwatch.  It’s also very important to note that the Better Alerts Medical Alert System REQUIRES a smartphone (to pair with the watch), so that’s an imperative. All-in-all we think it’s a great integrated system, with a lot of nifty features.

Living With Dementia

Living With Dementia

Dementia is defined as “a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.”  For anyone who’s life has been touched by dementia, you know how difficult it is for the afflicted, and their loved ones.

To put this growing epidemic into context, The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of people living with dementia (worldwide) is currently estimated at 47.5 million.  Incredibly it’s predicted to increase to 75.6 million by 2030.  Are you listening Baby Boomers?  We’re facing a crisis that is going to affect someone you love, in your lifetime.  You can bet on it.

A new case of dementia is diagnosed every 4 seconds.  The total number of new cases of dementia each year worldwide is nearly 7.7 million, implying 1 new case every 4 seconds. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 75.6 million in 2030 and 135.5 million in 2050. – World Health Organization

What’s it like living with someone afflicted with dementia?  In many cases, it’s like watching someone slip away before your very eyes.  There’s a tipping point to dementia where family members become more burdened than their loved one who is suffering.  Dementia sufferers can become so sick that they simply don’t recognize you, their surroundings, or even themselves.  They simply fall into a void.

Let me introduce you to Reddit user vingverm (otherwise known as Jake from Australia).  Jake’s  photo journal shares the decline of his 58 year old mother Jacquie.  Jacquie had been suffering from Pick’s Disease, which manifests with Dementia like symptoms, and leads to death (often in 2-5 years). The photos speak louder than words, so I’ll let his powerful lens give you a glimpse into his loving family.

Living With Dementia

Living with Dementia

“This was taken in 2005 or so. At this point, Jacquie had Pick’s Disease, but it had been misdiagnosed as menopause. She would be about 48 here.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living With Dementia

“On the beach, around 2010. Lots of Jacquie around. She can’t remember too much though.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“2010 again. Riding on the back of dad’s motorbike was one of her favourite things to do. She got quite terrified when the helmets were on, but once moving had a blast. This had to stop in 2011, when an on-bike paranoia attack nearly caused an accident.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Beach-time walks. Weight is falling off. Conversation is non-existent.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“The birth of her first grandchild. She had been looking forward to being a grandmother for years. ” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Still knows how to party. #yolo.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Cuddles with her 14 month old grandson. He’s very careful with her, knows she’s special.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“She doesn’t walk very much anymore. And she has lost a large amount of weight.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Fun times at the beach. She’s 58 here. Her eyes aren’t always open, and if they are, she’s staring into the void.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“Sometime’s we’ll move to her to beanbags on the floor.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Living with Dementia

“She still smiles and laughs sometimes. I have no idea why. I really hope she dies soon.” – Vingverm/Reddit

Are you caring for someone with Dementia? Do you know someone who is? Would you be willing to share your story with us? Our comment section (below) is an open forum for you.

Scam Alert: Real Estate Scams

Real Estate ScamsHome buyers and sellers beware!

We’re always on the lookout for current scams so we can keep you informed of the latest bad guys out there. Turns out there’s a new scam circulating around the country these days called The Real Estate Scam.  It attempts to dupe you into believing your dealing with a proper real estate broker (or realtor) by loading malware onto your realtor’s computer.  Once they’ve infiltrated, they use the information to come after you, your private information, and your money.

Real Estate Scams

It starts with an email to real estate agents (supposedly sent by an interested buyer) that includes an attached link. When the recipient opens the link, malware secretly infects the individual’s computer, giving hackers remote access to files detailing transactions and clients. Then scammers follow with phone calls or other emails, posing as a title company, a real estate attorney or a seller of property that’s already listed for sale. – Sid Kirchheimer – AARP

Once these scam artists gain your trust, they can do anything UNLESS you take precautions.  Here are several tips from reliable sources:

US News & World Report says:

  • Don’t Rush It – Real estate transactions are complicated and take patience.
  • Vet the person you’re working with –  Just because someone has a LinkedIn page doesn’t make him or her a swell human being.

Forbes offers these tips:

  • Cross-check different listing sites and verify a broker or company’s licenses. It’s amazing what a simple Google search can yield.
  • Always beware of cold calls
  • Be suspicious of “upfront fees”

Finally AARP suggests:

  • Contact your  real estate agents in person.  Don’t correspond with them via email all the time.
  • Before wiring funds, make sure that the bank accounts & routing numbers are for REAL title companies, attorneys, etc.
  • And for realtors – Don’t open emails from people you don’t know.  You’re protecting yourself AND your clients by being extra careful.

Have any other real estate tips or other scam alerts we should be aware of?  Let us know in the comments below!

Real Estate Scams

List of Current Scams to be Aware of

Sweepstakes scam that targets Seniors (letter, email, text and phone)

FTC consumer complaint notification (email)

Foreclosure rescue from Hope Services (phone, email)

Help for earthquake victims in Nepal (in-person, phone, email)

Don’t be a victim!  Help educate others so that they stay safe too!

What Are Walk-In Bathtubs?

With 80% of falls happening in the bathroom, it’s imperative for anyone at a risk for falls to examine the hazards in the home and the bathtub is one of them.  An alternative to traditional bathtubs are walk-in bathtubs.  Walk-in bathtubs are bathtubs that have doors on them.  They have doors that open up so the user doesn’t have to step over the leading edge of a traditional bathtub.  Walk-in bathtubs can be much safer alternatives for elderly and/or disabled individuals and can minimize the risk involved (in falling, etc.) for the less mobile among us.

Walk-In Bathtubs

walk-in bathtub

Walk-in bathtubs have heavy duty sealing (around the doors).  The seal prevents water from seeping out when the tub is full of water.  Walk-in tubs typically drain faster than traditional tubs too.  This ensures that users don’t have to sit around for long periods of time (waiting for the water to drain out).

How To Buy A Walk-In Bathtub

Because these tubs don’t come standard in a typical home, families will either reach out to a walk-in bathtub dealer (who can order the appropriate tub, and arrange for installation, etc.) or they will find a tub at Home Depot (or other big box stores) and hire someone separately to perform the installation.

Some walk-in bathtubs come with jets

Walk-in bathtubs can come with many features including jacuzzi style water jets.  Doors can open inside or outside, depending on the make and model of the tub, and they come in a variety of (stale) color combinations.  Newer walk-in tubs aren’t one-size-fits-all either.  They can come in small, medium or large sizes… and many different shapes!

The Down Side

There are other considerations to make when considering walk-in tubs.  First, you have to understand the overall experience of bathing in a walk-in tub.  It’s different than it is in a traditional bathtub.  For example, in a walk-in bathtub:

  • You must get in your tub, shut the door behind you, and then turn the water on so it slowly rises to the desired depth and temperature.
  • Getting out involves the same drill in reverse.  You have to wait for the tub to empty until you can get out of your walk-in tub.
    • Because many of these tubs have fast-draining systems, your plumbing may or may not be able to accommodate the faster draining systems.  You’ll want to find out before ordering.
  • A bare bones walk-in bathtub (without installation) is going to start at $2,000, and they go up from there.  The nicer models retail between $4,000 – $6,000.  Often times the bathroom will need a remodel to accommodate the new tub, and this could involve both an electrician and a plumber.  So price is definitely a consideration when considering a walk-in type bathtub.

The Bottom Line

There’s a big difference between stepping into a traditional bathtub vs. a walk-in bathtub, especially for the elderly and/or less mobile folks out there. Imagine stepping into the tub below, vs. some of the walk-in tubs illustrated above.  Cost should always be a consideration when making the decision to invest in a walk-in tub, but the safety of your loved one should be your primary consideration.

traditional bathtubs vs walk-in bathtubs

In the end, you must do a good bit of research to understand what makes the most sense in your specific situation. We’ll continue to write about these interesting products, in order to help you make the best choice you can make.  Until then… Happy Bathing!

Click here for tips on how to gently shower your aging parent.

If you have any tips about ordering or using a walk-in bathtub, please tell us your story in the comments below!

Some of the providers on our site have an affiliate relationship with The Senior List, and we’re proud of those relationships. We only work with providers that pass our own stringent criteria, and these are the same providers that we refer our friends and family to.