For this message, though, I want to focus on the mask that you are wearing. The mask should be secured enough to your face to cover both your nose and mouth to prevent airborne spread of the virus. Yes, you must ensure that both your nose and mouth are properly covered. This practice requires that the top border of the mask fits onto the top of your nose right under your eyes. I expect that you, like me, are frequently adjusting your mask to ensure that your nose is covered properly. This correct mask placement results in decreased vision, blocking your peripheral lower visual field.
Today, I want to talk with you about your feet, in particular, changes in sensation – tingling, numbness or pain – symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy (PN). PN is common in older persons, resulting from damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. The aging process alone can cause damage to our nerves. But, diabetes as one of the most common causes of PN, along with smoking and alcohol abuse. Diabetic PN is the most common form of neuropathy worldwide, and the most common type of distal symmetric neuropathy, accounting for 75% of all diabetic neuropathies.
In our country, COVID-19 is now the leading case of death. This statistic is going to change over time now that the vaccine is becoming available and people are getting vaccinated. As I have shared in past messages, for adults 85 and older, falls in the leading cause of unintentional injury death. The interventions to reduce falls and protect you from injury are complex and requires a team approach, as you receive with your Harmony Team and Fall Prevention Program. In contrast, your ability to be protected from this virus is simpler. You can simply continue to wear your mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands and get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is made available to you!
Mobility devices, such canes and walkers,are assistive devices that, when used and appropriate to your need, will improve your gait and balance, along with proprioception, safety and independence. Canes help redistribute weight from a lower leg that is weak or painful, improve stability by increasing you base of support, and provide tactile information about the ground to improve your balance. In contrast, walkers improve your gait and balance by providing a wider base of support, improving your balance and making you a lot more stable.
Everyone knows that hearing loss can affect our social functioning and quality of life. When hearing declines, you can miss out on conversations, frequently have to ask people to repeat what has been said, increase the volume on our television, radio, or computer, or become withdrawn.
But…..Did you know that hearing loss is associated with increased fall risk?
Ladies and Gentlemen, when you enrolled in Harmony, your Harmony Team completed a comprehensive review of your medications as an essential component of your fall risk assessment and care treatment plan. The evidence is clear that medications, their side effects in isolation or combination, can increase your fall risks.
For over 20 years, physicians have been studying the relationship of medications and falls among the elderly. In a hallmark study published in 1999, physicians conducted a large-scale analysis of medications’ effect on increasing fall risk. From this analysis, they discovered that classes of medications have varying levels of risk.
In 2008, the Falls Free® State Coalitions on Fall Prevention Workgroup requested that Fall Prevention Awareness Day be on the first day of fall. Since then, many states have joined in this campaign to bring public health, departments on again, volunteer groups, health care professionals, and more together to help solve the problem and public health issues related to the burden of falls and consequences of injury. Reaching national attention and commitment to reduce falls, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) assumed the leadership role through their Falls Free® Initiative for public education, and support and expand evidence-based programs and interventions.
We know that accidents happen. We work together to do all that we can to reduce the risks of falling, but at the same time, want to plan for and be prepared to manage a fall, get up after a fall, to the best of our ability reduce the complications sustained from a fall. Your Harmony Team is dedicated to help you be better prepared for dealing with a fall when it occurs and not to be afraid.
Summer months are proving to already bring record-breaking high temperatures. Some of the requirements to shelter-at-home have relaxed, and you are probably out-and-about to shop, walk with your family and/or friends, or maybe go for a drive. Harmony’s Team is confident that you are wearing your mask, social distancing, keeping your hands away from your face as much as possible, and washing your hands; however, are you keeping yourself hydrated, especially during the summer? Older people are more vulnerable to dehydration, which increases risk of falling.
Harmony’s Team wants you to sleep well, because sleeping well improves your health and well-being and decreases your fall risks. The stress of these uncertain time and worries about your health can affect your ability to get enough sleep. For adults, the recommended duration of sleep is 7-8 hours per night (Taylor, 2020). However, a recent poll completed by the National Sleep Foundation reported that Americans only get about 6 hours of sleep per night.