The VHA is promoting Health and Wellness for The Villages Residents as its theme for 2023, dove-tailing with The Daily Sun’s “The Healthiest Home Town”. Safety does indeed come first on any health-wise checklist, so we are offering a few tips on safe practices that inevitably lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Here in The Villages, there are risk factors to avoid which disproportionately affect our senior population. One major area of concern is falls. According to geriatrician Mary Elizabeth Tinetti, MD, Yale Medical Group, “falls are not only associated with significant injury and death in the older population, but are also linked to reduced independence and early admission to long-term-care facilities.” Fall prevention strategies and safety measures may reduce fall-related injuries, emergency room visits, hospitalizations and nursing home placements.
Hundreds of people die from workplace accidents every day, but for most of us here in The Villages, our home, or where we volunteer, has become our “workplace” where chances of falling exist. Stories abound of unique ways people have fallen, including a recent incident where a women woke up to a palmetto bug on her ceiling, so she grabbed a shoe, stood up on her mattress, lost her balance, and ended up with a broken leg and months of rehab. Funny to hear, but the results of any fall are definitely no fun.
NEVER OVERESTIMATE YOUR ABILITY TO “DO IT YOURSELF”.
Wayne had spent years trimming trees for a profession. He was retired, but still thought he could do the work of removing a large tree from his yard himself. Although he no longer had his own equipment, a friend loaned him an aerial bucket, and while his wife sipped iced tea on the front porch so she could watch his progress, he went to work. He was 25-feet up when the bucket somehow got hung up on the trunk, broke loose, and propelled him out of the bucket to the ground. He did not survive. Maybe it’s time to swallow your pride and hire out some of those jobs that were easy to do when you were younger, but are risky now.
HAVE A BUDDY SYSTEM WHEN DOING WORK THAT INVOLVES THE POTENTIAL FOR FALLING.
Dick was volunteering at a local church working on outdoor lighting for a Christmas program, by himself. He took an unexpected tumble off the outdoor stage and laid on the ground, shivering, for quite a while before someone just happened to see him lying there. Luckily, he escaped with some broken ribs and a fractured back that will heal. Need to take a trip up the stairs in the garage to get to the attic? Do it while someone is there. Need to change your fire detector? Ask for help if need be. Don’t take unnecessary chances when you are alone.
P.S. Did you know The Villages Public Safety Department offers smoke detector assistance to residents of The Villages as part of the Fall Prevention Program? The Smoke Detector Program is designed for residents who are disabled or unable to climb ladders and install a smoke detector or change the batteries in their smoke detector. Check it out on the District website: www.districtgov.org under Departments, Public Safety, Smoke Detector Program.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS BEFORE TAKING A STEP.
Linda was doing some organizing around the house and using a long-handled Swiffer to dust the top of the cupboards in her laundry room. When the phone rang, she put the duster down, and promptly tripped over it. Nothing was broken, but she learned a valuable lesson about being aware of her surroundings. Something as simple as a throw rug, a pair of shoes, or a dog toy are potential trip and fall hazards. Look before you take a step!
BE PROACTIVE IN DOING WHATEVER YOU CAN TO MINIMIZE DAMAGE.
Accidents happen even when we do our best to prevent them, but there are things we can do to minimize the damage if and when they do occur. According to the National Institutes on Aging, having healthy bones may help prevent serious injury. Staying active and getting enough calcium and vitamin D can help keep your bones strong. Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity.
Quitting smoking and avoiding or limiting alcohol use also helps with bone health, as does maintaining a healthy weight. A healthy weight is not always what we think it is, since being underweight increases the risk of bone loss and broken bones.
P.S. The Villages Recreation and Parks offers a variety of programs that are designed to help with balance and building strong bones. One such program is Bone Builders, which meets multiple times at various rec centers throughout The Villages.
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE THAT ALERTS OTHERS TO YOUR SAFETY AND WELFARE.
Falls are not the only concern for staying safe at home, but it is a major one. That is why we recommend having a network of neighbors, friends and acquaintances to watch out for one another. Get to know your neighbors and their routines. If you see something out of sorts, stop by and check on them. If you live alone, having a friend or relative that you call daily to check in is also a good idea.
P.S. Community Watch looks for simple things that are “not quite right” when they do their rounds to determine if they need to do a house check. If your garage door is open in the middle of the night, they will give you a call. If they notice you haven’t picked up your newspaper for a couple days, it is a sign that something is not right and they will knock on your door. They have The Adult Watch Program, a service provided to residents who live alone for a well-being check. To find out more visit the District website: www.districtgov.org, Departments, Community Watch, Community Watch Programs.