I will admit that until I began working in the senior living sector, I knew very little about Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. It was not something I had seen on a personal or family level. That has changed. Now I know and care for people affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. I understand that they are not all one in the same. There are even different types of dementia. I have come to know some of the devastating effects they take on lives. Since June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, I thought I could help do my part by shining a purple light.
Did you know that according to the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Alzheimer’s is fatal. It kills more than breast and prostate cancer combined.
- Alzheimer’s is not normal aging. It’s a progressive brain disease without any cure.
- Alzheimer’s is more than memory loss. It appears through a variety of signs and symptoms.
Per the website alz.org, “A number of studies indicate that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active as we age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. Experts are not certain about the reason for this association. It may be due to direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.”
During the month of June, the Alzheimer’s Association asks you to learn more about Alzheimer’s. Share your story and take action. It may be as simple as bringing awareness via social media. Alzheimer’s disease awareness is represented by the color purple, and in June, thousands of Americans will turn their Facebook profile purple with an “END ALZ” icon. If you need help or more information on ways you can raise awareness of the truth about Alzheimer’s, visit alz.org/abam to get started.
Before I began working in the senior living industry the word FALL didn’t strike fear into my heart. No on the contrary it would spark images of leaves turning to brilliant hues of gold and crimson and the sound of them crunching under our feet as me and the neighborhood children would play flag football in the yard. It would spark memories of the delicious smells of the season from my favorite pumpkin spice candles to Mom’s homemade chili brewing on the stove. Ah yes, the innocence and tranquility of it all. But I digress. And who am I kidding that football usually turned into an all-out brawl anyway. But seriously FALLS as we know them and how they relate to our seniors are a very big deal!
By the numbers…
- According to the CDC “each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.” The CDC also reports that “adjusted for inflation, the direct medical costs for fall injuries are $31 billion annually. Hospital costs account for two-thirds of the total.”
It is imperative that we take measures to try and help prevent falls if at all possible. Sure this seems very idealistic! But it is also helpful if we take a practical approach. You may not can prevent all falls. But you can take appropriate measures to keep someone safe. So where do you start? This is an important question no matter where you live. Today we will start with the first thing you can do.
Keep your area safe…
I remember a friend from church once asked me to come over and look at their parents’ home and see if anything jumped out at me as to why their parent kept falling. Walk with me if you will….we start up the concrete steps to the home that has no handrail. This takes us to the kitchen where a cute blind dog nips at your knees. We cross down to the living area that is situated on the split level property across from the bathroom. In the tiny bathroom there is a sliding glass door shower/tub with no handrails and a towel bar that is dangling from the wall. I can’t make this stuff up. Did I mention that the home was also poorly lit? I really couldn’t see why they needed my help discerning the safety issues within this home. The entire place was a hotbed for concussions and broken hips! So always ASSESS your FALL RISKS within your living space.
Key things to pay attention to include:
Clutter-get rid of it! Make sure you don’t have junk making an obstacle course for you to maneuver around.
Lighting-make sure you can see! Also make use of nightlights. What you CAN’T see CAN hurt you.
And also watch for HOME HAZARDS such as:
- broken or uneven steps,
- throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and
- no handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.
There are absolutely multiple risk factors and reasons for falls to occur. But if you do your best to make sure your space (or your loved one’s space) is as safe as possible, you are increasing your odds of NOT becoming a statistic in the fight against FALLS.