Archive for December, 2010

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

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Report says exercise and vitamin D can prevent falls among the elderly

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths among people 65 and over, according to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (See our recent post “Big risks from small falls“.) A medical alert system is important to summon help quickly in the event of a fall and mitigate complications. However, its also important to take steps to prevent falls from happening in the first place. That’s why we frequently post items on our blog, Facebook and Twitter feeds about how we can improve our health and living environment to reduce the risk of falling.

This month, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts mandated by Congress, sorted through hundreds of articles and thousands of abstracts help guide the advice that primary care practitioners give to their patients. Based on 16 studies that the task force analyzed, exercise can reduce the risk of falling by 13% and 9 studies provided evidence that vitamin D supplementation can reduce risk 17%.

The report is just as interesting for what it found did not reduce risk. Neither vision correction nor education alone were associated with reducing the risk of falling. One study in Australia actually found an increase in the proportion of fallers among those who got vision correction. According to the researchers, this may be because frail older adults became more active because of their improved vision, thus increasing their risk of falling.

(Photo by TooFarNorth via flickr)

How to tell when your parent needs help at home

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

AgingCare.com has an excellent article today entitled “19 Warning Signs Your Parent Needs Help at Home“. Personal grooming as well as the appearance of the home are key indicators. For instance, unpleasant body odor may indicate that the person is not bathing frequently, and a dirty house and clutter can also be signs of a problem.

If you notice bills piling up, that could be because your parent is becoming forgetful or feeling overwhelmed. The article also presents other signs that could indicate memory problems or depression.

AgingCare points out that providing non-medical care assistance can be very helpful and stave off a move to assisted living or a nursing home. In-home care services range from simple companionship and conversation to help with cleaning, shopping and bills. Since Medicare and Medicaid don’t pay for home care, the article presents other possible sources to defray costs.

Many of the warning signs cited can be an indication that your parent is afraid of falling or wary of overexerting, especially for people living alone. Discuss getting a medical alert system with your parent. The medical alert can provide your parent confidence because they’ll know that they only need to press a button that’s always with them in order to summon help.

Getting Wii-fitter may improve balance and decrease falls

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Wii Bowling

Many people embraced Nintendo’s Wii and “exergames” like Wii Fit with the hopes that it would get them off the couch and provide a fun way to stay in shape. However, as Gretchen Reynolds reports in today’s New York Times, researchers are finding that the workouts just aren’t intense enough to provide real benefits to younger people. However, a few studies are starting to indicate that the elderly can improve their physical fitness through these games.

Two studies cited in the Times article found that elderly participants saw significant improvements in balance using the Wii Fit’s exercises as well as fun games like Wii Bowling. Improving balance is important to preventing falls, which are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among the elderly.

With the holidays coming, it makes you think if maybe this year, it’s time to give Junior a good book or sweater and reserve the game console for grandma and grandpa.

(photo by marioanima via Flickr)