WHO IS AFRAID OF FALLING? H.Barker, Ph. D. RN

ambulance, architecture, building

Life is busy.  We rush from place to place.  Running to catch buses, taxis or trains.  There is a rush of exhilaration as I beat the train to the platform.  The good old days.  I was running late for work, but this train saved me from being tardy.  Memories of yesteryear are sweet, as I now find myself holding on to the subway rails and gingerly descending.  It is cruelty on days when these stairs are wet and slippery with ice or snow.   Youthful thoughts vanish.  I am suddenly turned into a frightened limpet, clinging tightly to my steel support.  Trusting it to bear my weight, and help me land safely.  I slide ungracefully down the last few steps and rush to the turnstile, but the train is leaving.

I know my house.  I can walk through it blind folded.  No need for a bathroom or kitchen light.   In the darkness, the furniture is familiar.  I safely walk around my electronic gadgets charging on the floor, and even take a quick peek through the window. Not this night.  I jumped out of bed rushing to the bathroom.  The room begins to spin. My back hits the bed, the wetness sliding down my legs.  What happened here?  Who slammed me in the head?  I pushed up on my elbows, but there is a universe out there floating before my eyes.  My head is in orbit.  Gravity is lost.  My senses say to lie here until everything settles down.

I do not like snow.  Sure, it is soft, warm, white and pretty when it is falling.  Give it a few days, and you are “Harry on Ice,” slipping and sliding all over the place.  Not funny anymore.   I am striding through the snow on this cold January day, when suddenly my feet are in the air and I am crashing to the pavement.  My handbag, glasses, umbrella go flying. My ears are ringing. Stars are blinking before my eyes.  I tried getting up, but my feet are useless.   I opened my eyes.  People are walking around me.  Not even looking at me.  One stranger came and helped me up.

According to the National Council on Aging, https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/, adults 65 years and over are at greater risks for falls.  Every 11 minutes an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall.  In 2013 the cost to treat falls was over $30 billion dollars. Falls limit mobility, increases fear and may result in permanent disability or even death. Postmenopausal women are at greater risk for falling, because of osteoporosis or weakening of the bones.

If you are afraid of falling, here are five tips that help to reduce your risks:

  1. Hold on to stairs.
  2. Walk in flat shoes or sneakers
  3. Put a mat/old towel in the bathtub
  4. Do not walk on wet slippery surfaces
  5. Check your medications for side effects e.g. dizziness

 

NATIONAL FALL PREVENTION DAY: September 22, 2017

 

 

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Tart: An Acquired Taste

I had a little problem  a few weeks ago and a friend recommended that I drink Cranberry  Juice.  I do not drink juices but went to the supermarket.  The cranberry juices were in different varieties.  Finally, I chose one but after drinking some of it, decided that it was too sweet for my taste.  I went to the health food store and picked up  the same size but it cost three times the price.  The recommended serving was three ounces, which I poured into a glass added four cubes of ice.  On my way back to the living room I took a mouthful and instantly was spitting it all over the place.  Tart!! Sharp!!Acidic!! Hold on a minute.  Who drinks this stuff?  I swear it is going to burn a hole in my stomach.

I was visiting my daughter and took  it with me.  So my teenage grandson wanted to try it.  I told him how acid it tasted, but he still wanted to try.  I watched in amazement as he drank about three ounces of the juice.  What? Is his stomach lined with lead or something? “It is an acquired taste, grandma,” he tells me.

So then I started to think.  As I grow older I cannot tolerate any food or drink that is too acidic.  I remember my school days when  I could eat fruit such as gooseberries, golden apples, tamarinds, lemons, all I needed was some salt sprinkled on the top.  I cannot do this anymore.  With age the stomach acids begin to decrease and the lining is easily irritated.  Back to my cranberry juice, over several days I manage to tolerate it better.  The problem cleared up so I guess that it was worth it after all.

 

Positive Thinking and Aging-Harriette Barker, Ph. D, RN

Free Stock Photo: An African-American woman looking out a window

Have you ever been accused of not thinking positively about a situation?  It hurt when someone says, “you are always thinking negatively.”  Your first reaction is to defend yourself and try to convince the person that you are positive in your outlook and approach.  As we age, remaining positive may become stressful.   Many years ago, as a young staff nurse working in a geriatric facility, one of my patients said to me, “growing older is a bitch.”  At that time bouncing with youth and fairy dreams, I could not relate to her sentiment.

Positive thinking (feel good approach) is promoted as being healthy for aging hearts.  It helps to reduce the risk of inflammation and heart disease.  It can also boost your self-esteem, increase your ability to make decisions, and improve personal relationships.  Focusing on the positive and minimizing negatives thoughts and attitudes add years to life, increases resiliency, decreases stress levels and gives you greater insight.

Positive thinking is a healthy behavior that can help add years to our lives. We are encouraged to let go of negativity.  To view the older years as opportunities and challenges, that keep us engaged and in touch with the world around us.

Positive thinking from a religious perspective was healthy, and necessary for spiritual development according to the late Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller.  Their ideas that focusing on the positive eliminated the negative, has been the hallmark of their books, sermons, and letters. Such thinking is very beneficial to older persons as they explore and enhance their spirituality.

However, there are some newer thoughts on positive thinking that reinforce the idea that positivity alone does not necessarily result in successful outcomes.  The Obama Presidential campaign touted the positive slogan of “Yes, we can.”  It was a message of optimism and hope that energized the nation and moved it forward.   Although his message was one of hope, in hindsight we can see the obstacles that presented every step of the way.

 Oettingen, a psychologist, agrees that positive thinking is a strategy that enables persons to take a positive approach on striving for goals.  However, she acknowledges that positive thinking alone does not eliminate obstacles that may get in the way.  Assessing these and developing a plan to overcome them in a realistic way is important if you want to achieve your goals.

 Oettingen, developed a four-step, wish, outcome, obstacles,  plan (WOOP). This strategy helps you  put your old dreams into action or develop new ones.  The steps to this program are:

Wish: Be specific

Outcome: Think about the results

Obstacles: Identify anything that may set you back

Plan:  determine where or when setbacks may occur and how to overcome them.