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.

Exercise For Seniors Proven Important

exercise for seniors growing in importanceHuffPost recently summarized the results of a new study entitled “Associations among Physical Activity, Diet Quality, and Weight Status in US Adults“.  It was done by researchers at the University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) and published in The Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.  The study was one of the first to look at associations among moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, diet quality, and weight status within and across age groups in US adults.

Purpose: Nearly 70% of adult Americans are overweight or obese, but the associations between physical activity, diet quality, and weight status have not been examined in a representative sample of US adults. – Russell Pate et al (University of South Carolina)

Study: Exercise for seniors

The study, consisting of 4,999 American adults (ages 20-70) noted that diet alone isn’t enough to stave off age related weight gain.  It further noted that exercise for seniors has a greater impact on weight gain than diet does.  Authors felt their findings provided support for “public health efforts to prevent obesity by promoting increased physical activity in adult Americans”.  Clearly we all need to be more cognizant of the role that both diet and exercise play in our overall health.

Overall, Americans’ activity levels are lower thanks to sedentary jobs, technology and better mass transportation options, according to the American Heart Association. We’re paying for those conveniences with our health; about 69 percent of adults are either overweight or obese, which increases risk for diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and reproductive problems. – Anna Almendrala, HuffPost

Balance is the key

In our opinion it’s important to note that balance is really the key here.  A consistent regimen of eating healthy foods (in proper portions) combined with (at least) the federal activity guidelines of 150 minutes of exercise per week are vitally important to both our physical and mental health.  As we age, we need these 2 healthy components more than ever to stay sharp, to feel our best, and to keep our bodies strong (muscles as well as bone structure).

What are you doing to keep yourself healthy these days?  Are you spending time at the gym? Do you have a particular walking/running routine?  We’d love to hear how you’re tackling these important issues in your life!  Let us know in the comments below.

Yoga For Seniors: Benefits and Best Poses

Yoga For SeniorsThere are many different kinds of Yoga from the sweltering hot to the laughing kind.  Yoga for seniors is nothing new, but offers a unique approach to keeping fit.  No matter your age, keeping your body flexible, mobile and in good shape is important. While the amount of exercise needed by older adults is less than other age groups, it is still crucial that seniors commit to exercising on a regular basis.

While it is well known that it is beneficial for seniors to take part in cardiovascular exercise, like power walking, flexibility training is just as important. Taking part in flexibility exercise, like Yoga, is not only beneficial in terms of fitness, it is also beneficial for general health. For additional cardiovascular and flexibility exercise ideas for older adults, you can have a look online at Anti Aging World.

Many older adults suffer from long-term health conditions, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Some studies have suggested that practicing yoga for seniors on a regular basis may help to ease the symptoms of these conditions. Regular yoga sessions may also help to combat fatigue, alleviate chronic pain and reduce stress levels.

It is unrealistic to expect seniors to be able to be as flexible as in younger years, but learning some simple yoga poses can improve quality of life. For example, certain yoga poses increase core strength and balance, which can help to reduce the risk of fall-related injuries.

Yoga for Seniors: Improve Sleep Habits

Many seniors suffer from insomnia, however practicing yoga may help get a better night’s sleep. Studies have shown that yoga can help to improve sleep duration and reduce the time required to get to sleep. This may be because the physical demands of the poses, combined with relaxation and breathing techniques burn energy. By sleeping better at night, you should feel better and more energized during the day.

Chronic Pain Relief

Many older people suffer from chronic pain in their muscles and joints – usually attributed to arthritis. Yoga is known to help reduce chronic pain and make it more manageable.

Reduces High Blood Pressure

Studies have found that Yoga can contribute to reducing high blood pressure levels, which can often be a serious health worry for older people. The calming techniques used in Yoga, combined with the physical activity, can help to lower blood pressure.

Improved Flexibility and Mobility

As we age, our range of motion and flexibility decreases. But, Yoga can be used to increase flexibility and range of motion through physical poses that stretch muscles out and help to lubricate the joints.

Seniors may find that poses involving smooth movements may be more beneficial than poses that require them to stay still. Just a few days of yoga exercises or classes might be all it takes to limber you up and improve mobility and balance.

Most beneficial Yoga poses for seniors:

  1. One-legged Wind Releasing Pose:

This is a nice, easy stretch that stretches out the muscles in the middle to lower back and the hips. It can help to reduce lower back pain.

Start by lying down on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
Pull your left thigh towards your chest.
Straighten your right leg on the floor and keep your foot pointed upwards.
Make sure you keep your pelvis on the ground.
Deep breath until your muscles relax, hold the pose for a few more seconds.
Then repeat with the other leg. 

  1. Staff Pose

An excellent pose for helping aches and pains. The Staff pose can help to strengthen the middle of the back, helping to improve posture. It can also help to make the knees more stable.

Begin by sitting on the floor and stretch your legs out. You may find it easier to sit with your shoulders against a wall.
Suck in your stomach and sit up as straight as you can.
Put your hands on the ground by your hips, make sure your fingers point towards your feet.
Flex your thigh muscles and press them down towards the floor, rotate them inwards and draw your groin muscles towards your lower back.
Gently flex your ankles and point your toes upwards, towards your body.
Hold the pose for ten deep breaths. 

  1. Chair Pose

Chair pose can be good for your heart if practiced on a regular basis. However, the Chair pose is somewhat challenging as it requires the use of many areas of the body at once.

Start by standing up with your feet close together.
Swing your arms to the side and up over your head, make sure the palms of your hands are facing inwards. While doing this, it is important to inhale.
Exhale and then bend your knees so that the tops of your legs and your stomach make a right angle – you should look like you are about to sit down.
Hold the position for as long as a minute.
Then stand up while inhaling, and then exhale and drop your arms back down.
If you struggle with this exercise, you can use a wall to help keep you stable.

  1. Seated Forward Bend Pose

The Seated Forward Bend pose can help to reduce high blood pressure. To avoid over-straining your back, you can use a chair to help you.

Begin by sitting down on a chair, keep your knees together and place your feet on the floor.
Take a deep breath and inhale.
When you exhale, lean forward, round your shoulders and bend your back slowly forward.
Allow your arms to dangle by your sides.
Hold this pose for four breaths.
This pose should allow your chest to rest on your thighs, and your forehead should be near your knees.
As your body becomes stronger and has more flexibility, you can get rid of the chair and do the position as a standing one.

By taking part in regular yoga sessions, not only can seniors improve their flexibility and mobility. Yoga can also be used to alleviate other health problems and conditions.

Exciting New Senior Care Companies Emerge

new senior care companies are excitingWe live in a very exciting time for senior care.  The combination of a quickly aging population, robust purchasing power, innovative technology and venture capitalists wanting in on the action is a recipe for some incredibly useful tools for older adults and caregivers alike.  A plethora of emerging companies have been welcomed by Aging2.0, a program designed to nurture and accelerate a select group of startups, and have our senses tingling with anticipation as well.  These companies have all been selected for the highly competitive Aging2.0 Academy where they will receive support, mentorship, and introductions to investors and customers to help them accomplish their goals.  Some of these companies are up and running, others are still in beta.  The future of senior care is here and we will be watching these emerging companies very closely.  Here are some of our favorites.

Caregiving/ Caremanagement

Care Monster is a caregiving app that supports family communication and encourages engagement when it comes to the care of a loved one.

CareMerge is a care coordination platform that forges meaningful connections between providers, payers, families and seniors to improve communication in today’s complex healthcare environment.

GeriJoy provides 24/7 companionship, supervision, and care management support through senior care avatars; improving quality of care, increasing safety, and lowering cost.

Roobrik is an online decision tool that helps family caregivers make difficult health and care choices with clarity and confidence.

Fall Detection/ Prevention

Active Protective produces smart garments that reduce hip fractures in the elderly by deploying micro-airbags to protect the hip in the event of a fall.

WalkJoy is a wearable device which reduces falls for patients with peripheral neuropathy by restoring the sensory feedback loop. The WalkingHealth software provides objective gait analysis, fall risk prediction and functional outcome data to therapists.

Tablets and Phones

Breezie is a simplified, personalized tablet interface designed for seniors and those less familiar with technology.

Gociety creates software that simplifies the smart phones interface for older adults. Their products, GoLivePhone® and GoLiveAssist®, are easily accessible and highly affordable.

Senior Care Planning

Everplans is the first comprehensive digital planning platform that allows families to create, store and share essential end-of-life wishes and emergency plans.

Vynca is a digital health company that provides cloud-based software for Advance Care Planning.

Communication Devices

Smartstones is the world’s first wearable, sensorial communication device, which connects family members and friends through simple gesture-based messages. *As a mom and a family caregiver, I can’t wait for this one to go to market.*

We will be following these companies and will continue to provide updates on the products and services they offer.  In the meantime, if you have experience with any of these services or products, please let us know in the comments below.

For a complete list of companies selected for the Aging2.0 Academy, visit the Aging2.0 website.

Product Review: Spiky Shoe Grips

Spiky shoe gripsWhile we don’t recommend that anyone walk around on icy surfaces, we are thrilled to learn about a product that can make that walk a little less treacherous.  We already know that one out of three adults 65 and older falls each year and that those falls lead to a high rate of Traumatic Brain Injuries, fractures, and increase the risk of early death.   The good folks at Spiky have a unique product that can easily be billed as fall prevention.  Spiky shoe grips for your feet!

Spiky shoe grips works like a studded snow tire for your foot.  It’s a lightweight rubber pullover for each shoe.  They can be worn on both icy surfaces and concrete without wearing down the steel spikes.  They can also be worn indoors, however we wouldn’t recommend wearing them on nice wood floors or other hard surfaces, unless you are going for the “distressed” look for your floors.  These would be ideal for anyone who lives in an area that has snowy, icy winters.  In fact, I’m going to send a set of these to my grandmother who insists on getting her mail everyday, despite the conditions outside.

Spiky offers two products- The first is a Spiky Sling which has spikes in the front (toe area) of the rubber sling only.  The second Spiky product is the Spiky Plus which offers an extra set of spikes in the heel area of the sling.  Both can be worn with all types of shoes from work boots to high heels.  The Sling retails for $24.95 and the Plus for $29.95.  If you plan on buying 5 or more, the price per Spiky decreases.

spiky shoe gripsWe had the opportunity to have a face-to-face with the Spiky Plus.  The rubber feels strong and durable, although might be a challenge for older hands to get on a shoe.  The steel spikes are inset in a way that does not pose a danger to small children or fragile older skin since they are not cut to a point.  Once on a shoe, they are lightweight and can even be worn while driving.  The Spiky is compact and can easily be stored in a purse or coat pocket.   Since we don’t have any snow or ice in our neck of the woods right now, we aren’t able to comment on their effectiveness in the elements, but will provide an update to this review once we have a chance to get to the mountain.  For additional information about Spiky products or to place an order, visit their website at www.spiky.com.