Joan’s Journey: Senior Communities Embrace Life, Even at the End

Just before 8 p.m. on a beautiful fall night in Santa Monica, the enchanting quiet of my “senior hotel” room was blasted with high-pitched sirens, annoying loud beeps and screeching tires. I was seated at my desk in the exact spot where, and time when, the recent 5.0 earthquake occurred. This evening, however, the unwanted sounds were manmade—those of an ambulance and a fire truck arriving at the front door of Holiday Villa East (HVE).

Unfortunately, living at HVE, these sounds are all too familiar. In fact, I hear them routinely—some weeks Ambulancemore frequently than others. The location of my room allows these unnerving sounds to penetrate into my room day and night. That’s a compromise I’ve made to occupy a lovely space with a balcony overlooking a busy urban street with three major hospitals, two fire stations and a police station within less than a mile.

Rapidly, the noises stop. Ambulance double-doors slam and footsteps scurry up the ramp. A resident needs immediate medical care.

Welcome, Joan’s Journeyers. Our story, but not our blog, ends here.

To read the rest of Joan’s post, and see how communities—and their residents—handle the loss of a friend, visit the latest installment of Joan’s Journey, “Part 22: Senior Communities Embrace Life, Even at the End.

Joan London, a freelance writer who specializes in topics on aging, enjoys living in senior housing in Southern California, where she is close to her children and grandchildren. London has a new roommate, Heather, 6 months, a beautiful Ragdoll Kitten. Follow her series, Joan’s Journey, on SeniorHomes.com.

Can’t Sleep? Loss of Neurons Could be to Blame

It’s probably no surprise to hear that many older adults suffer from insomnia and other forms of sleep disruption, but Michael Kennedy’s review of a University of Toronto study that seeks to explain why older adults can’t sleep acknowledges that experts don’t know the underlying cause. Andrew Lim, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Toronto believes that the study provides “evidence that loss of neurons in a particular region of the brain that controls sleep may be an important contributor to insomnia in many older individuals.”

Why are seniors losing sleep?

Clifford B. Saper, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, co-authored the study that was published in Brain, a Journal of Neurology. According to Saper, a person in his 70s typically gets about one fewer hour of sleep per night than a person in his 20s. The Saper lab has been studying insomnia for years, and in 1996, they “first discovered that the ventrolateral pre optic nucleus, a key cell group of inhibitory neurons, was functioning as a ‘sleep switch’ in rats, turning off the brain’s arousal system to enable animals to fall asleep.”

Saper explains that sleep loss and disrupted sleep are associated with a variety of health issues, raining from cognitive dysfunction, to increased blood pressure, to a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes. Thanks to the University of Toronto study, Saper says, “it now appears that loss of these neurons may be contributing to these various disorders as people age.”

Alzheimer’s impacts sleep due to loss of neurons

Researchers analyzed older patients who do not have Alzheimer’s as well as Alzheimer’s patients for the study. They found that “the fewer the neurons, the more fragmented the sleep became. The subjects with the largest amount of neurons (greater than 6,000) spent 50 percent or more of the sleep time in prolonged periods of non-movement while subjects with the fewest ventrolateral preoptic neurons (less than 3,000) spent less than 40 percent of their nights in extended periods of sleep.”

Upon deeper analysis of the study’s results, researchers determined that among Alzheimer’s patients, much of the sleep impairment appeared to be related to the number of ventrolateral preoptic neurons that had been lost. Lim points out that, “given recent evidence that sleep disruption may predispose to or potentiate the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” the findings of the study could lead to prevention or the slowing of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease some day.

Can you protect your neurons…or grow new ones?

Wondering what causes people to lose neurons, and whether there is anything that you can do about it? Well, a blogger for Mental Health Daily wants you to first keep in mind that most people lose brain cells over the course of their lifetime. The blog also includes an extensive list of things that kill brain cells, if you want to protect yourself from the potential loss of neurons. Here is just a sampling of the things the blog post suggests you avoid to prevent the loss of neurons:

  • Concussion
  • Head banging
  • Whiplash
  • Severe dehydration
  • Sleep apnea
  • Amphetamine abuse
  • Bath salts
  • Cigarettes/tobacco products
  • Steroids
  • Pesticides
  • Aspartame
  • Chronic/severe stress

The brain may have the ability to repair itself and grow new brain cells via neurogenesis. While there has been a debate over the reality of neurogenesis in adults, a recent paper suggests that new neurons do form in the adult human striatum. Several researchers concluded that neurons are added “throughout life in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb. One area where neuroblasts that give rise to adult-born neurons are generated is the lateral ventricle wall of the brain.” Their research shows that “in adult humans new neurons integrate in the striatum, which is adjacent to this neurogenic niche.” And, the Mental Health Daily blogger lists 11 ways to grow new brain cells, including running, curcumin (which is found in the spice Turmeric), sexual experience, Omega 3 fatty acids, and more.

Keep your brain active to promote regeneration

Dr. Anthony Komaroff of Harvard Medical School also explains that “the brain has much more regenerative potential” than doctors were taught years ago in medical school, “but the regeneration doesn’t happen on its own. Keeping our brains active is one way to make it happen.” Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications suggests six ways to keep your mind sharp at any age.

  • Keep learning
  • Use all your sense
  • Believe in yourself
  • Prioritize your brain use
  • Repeat what you want to know
  • Space it out

Overall, Harvard Health Publications reminds seniors that to prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia, they should adopt some basic healthy habits – staying physically active and socializing, not smoking, limiting alcohol to one drink a day, eating a balanced diet, and keeping their minds sharp. The benefits include lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of diabetes, and now reducing the risk of insomnia. It’s definitely worth a try, for those seniors who are tired of losing so much sleep… and being tired!

Images via Flickr by Cristiana Gasparotto and Ars Electronica

CDC Urging Flu Shots This Season for Long-Term Care Facility Staff and Caregivers

As we approach the flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is strongly urging long-term care facility staff to get a flu shot. According to a report by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), the CDC is “embarking on a vigorous campaign this flu season, specifically focusing on increasing the number of flu vaccinations for staff at long-term care communities who traditionally show a low vaccination rate compared to other healthcare professionals.” The CDC is focusing on long-term care community staff because they are the group of healthcare professionals with the lowest rate or vaccine coverage, at just 63 percent, compared with those who work in hospitals at 89.6 percent for the 2013-14 influenza season.

Flu shots important for more than just healthcare workers

 The report also points out that it’s important for all staff in contact with residents, not just nurses, to get the flu vaccine. Linda Mather, vice president of resident care at Integral Senior Living, reminds people, “We want to keep staff healthy. We want to keep the residents healthy. Many of them are frail and far more susceptible to a negative outcome should they get the flu.” In the past, senior living facilities have been shut down or staff have been asked to work overtime during flu outbreaks.

Dr. Raymond Strikas, who works at the CDC’s Immunization Services Division in Atlanta, also told ALFA that “health care professionals need to ‘form a circle of protection’ around residents, especially considering 90 percent of all flu deaths in any given year occur in the 65 and older population.” Strikas points out that educating family and friends is important, too.

Family caregivers should get flu vaccines to protect themselves, loved ones

This got us thinking that family caregivers also should get the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine “as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.” Because the seasonal vaccine protects against the main flu viruses suggested by researchers, people who get the flu shot are most likely protected from the illness during the upcoming flu season. The CDC also recommends that people begin getting the flu shot by October, “to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.”

Moreover, the CDC explains that the flu can make some members of the population sicker than others. “These people include young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions—such as heart, lung or kidney disease, nervous system disorders, or a weakened immune system. Flu vaccination is especially important for those people, and anyone in close contact with them.” It is just as important for family caregivers to get the flu vaccine as it is for long-term care facility staff, as soon as possible.

What about Enterovirus D68? Are seniors at risk?

On a related note, there is much information about the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) floating around right now. The CDC reports that from mid-August to Sept. 24, 220 people in 32 states were confirmed to have a respiratory illness caused by EV-D68. As the cases have been spreading across the United States, the CDC reminds the public that while infants, children and teenagers are most likely to become infected with enteroviruses, people with asthma are at higher risk for respiratory illnesses. Asthmatics should take their medicine regularly and maintain control of their asthma now, and the CDC recommends “they should also take advantage of the influenza vaccine since people with asthma have a difficult time with respiratory illnesses.” This is just another reason that caregivers who have asthma should get a flu shot as soon as possible.

Steps to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season

Of course, there are steps that caregivers should also take to protect themselves and their loved ones from respiratory illnesses. The CDC recommends following these steps:

  • wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers;
  • avoid touching eyes, nose and moth with unwashed hands;
  • avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick;
  • disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

With all of the illnesses that people become susceptible to during the autumn and winter months, it just makes sense to protect ourselves any way possible. The flu vaccination is a simple way to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. It is important for everyone who is able to get the flu shot to do so as soon as possible, preferably before October. Clinics, pharmacies, and doctors’ offices typically offer the vaccination throughout the season. The CDC offers a HealthMap Vaccine Finder for people to locate a place to get the flu vaccine.

Images via Flickr by Ulrich Joho and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

SeniorHomes.com Joins in Raising Awareness, Funds for Alzheimer’s

The morning of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s Pacific Northwest started in typical Seattle fashion: Despite a weather forecast promising 80 degrees and sunshine, we were greeted with cloudy, gray skies. Fortunately, just when we thought it would remain cloudy, the sun made its promised appearance in time for the walk to start.

This is the fourth year that SeniorHomes.com has participated in this annual cause, and we had a great turnout of The SeniorHomes.com team at the Walk to End Alzheimer'semployees who came out on Saturday morning. Many of us there on Saturday also walked last year, and it seemed to us as though more walkers participated this year. The Alzheimer’s Assocation reported the final tally for this year’s walk to be 1,436 walkers.

There were many others within the senior living industry who came out in support of ending Alzheimer’s including Choice Advisory Services, ERA Living and Merrill Gardens at First Hill. Together, the 204 teams and 1,436 walkers raised $325,673.23.

This event wasn’t like the 5K walks which I usually participate in, where people participate with the intent of having fun; on this walk, people participated for the purpose of bringing awareness to this disease. That’s not to say there weren’t purple boas or a few costumes, but the walk for me was bittersweet, seeing flowers bearing names of people with Alzheimer’s or participants wearing shirts with pictures of deceased loved ones.

As someone whose family hasn’t experienced the tragic effects of Alzheimer’s, the walk made the disease real and reinforced the need for more funding to bring an end to it.

If you are interested in joining a walk, visit the Alzheimer’s Association website to find a walk near you. Even though the walk just ended, we at SeniorHomes.com know we’ll be participating again once September 2015 rolls around!

Written by SeniorHomes.com’s Andrea Watts.

Volunteering Promotes Health and Happiness for Older Adults

A new study appearing in the Psychological Bulletin is the first to examine peer-reviewed evidence to investigate the psychosocial health and wellness benefits of volunteerism in the older adult population, according to a report by Psychology Today. It turns out that volunteering has positive impacts on health and happiness among older adults, with particular benefits for those with chronic health conditions.

Meta-analysis looks at the benefits of volunteering on health and wellness Volunteering Benefits Older Adults

The study involved the review of 73 studies, all published within the past 45 years, examining adults age 50 and older who were or are serving in a formal volunteer capacity.All studies reviewed in this analysis the psychosocial, physical, and/or cognitive outcomes associated with volunteering, including:

  • Happiness
  • Physical health
  • Depression
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Social support
  • Life satisfaction

Volunteerism provides numerous positive benefits for older adults

Researchers say they found compelling evidence that volunteerism is a beneficial activity for older adults. A few key findings from the analysis:

  • Volunteering is associated with longevity, fewer symptoms of depression, fewer functional limitations, and better overall health.
  • When it comes to volunteering, more is not always better. The optimal amount of volunteering is about 100 hours annually, or two to three hours per week. After this mark, the benefits of volunteering plateau.
  • Seniors who are more vulnerable, such as those suffering from chronic health conditions, stand to reap the most benefits from volunteering.
  • Volunteering creates a feeling of being needed and/or appreciated, which seems to amplify the overall health and wellness benefits for volunteers.

Increased physical activity adds to the social, emotional, and physical health benefits

One possible reason for some of the health benefits realized through volunteering is the increase in physical activity. Seniors volunteering to deliver Meals on Wheels to aging or disabled adults in their homes are more physically active than those who maintain a more sedentary lifestyle, so seniors are benefiting not only from the social interaction and feel-good benefits of volunteering, but the added physical activity which can help ward off chronic disease.

Specifically, researchers find that a moderate amount of volunteering (around the 100-hours-annually mark) is associated with less hypertension and fewer hip fractures, when comparing seniors who volunteer to those who do not.

Troubling gaps in research points to areas for future study

Researchers also found some intriguing gaps in prior research that may point to future areas of study. For example, they found very few studies which have investigated the link between volunteerism and cognitive functioning. They found not one study that has looked for an association between volunteering and the risk of dementia, or even an association between volunteering and other health conditions that have been previously associated with a higher risk of dementia, such as stroke or diabetes.

With dementia rates expected to double over the next two decades, Nicole Anderson, Ph.D., who led the team of Canadian and American academics in this meta-analysis, encourages researchers to delve into the potential benefits of volunteerism on cognitive functioning in older adults. The research report suggests a “comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests, so that the association of volunteering with the risks of various forms of dementia and its precursor, mild cognitive impairment, could be ascertained.”

Do you volunteer in your local community? Tell us about the volunteer activities you enjoy and how volunteering has been beneficial for you in the comments below.

How to Overcome the Challenges of Moving to Assisted Living … Using TV Catchphrases

A few years ago, you bought a medical alert system for your older parent or relative. Then later, you added in-home care to help her with the activities of daily living. Now, you’re done with aging in place. She’s moving into assisted living.

When moving day arrives, emotions might be high—but risk should be low. Let’s look at everything you need to know to keep seniors safe during the move. To help with our journey, we’ve enlisted the help of our friend, the television.

And a one … and a two …  and awaaaay we go!How to Overcome the Challenges of Moving into Assisted Living ... Using TV Catchphrases

Ask her, “How you doin’?”

Moving into assisted living is a huge change, so don’t trivialize the impact. Acknowledge the emotions moving causes and don’t let those feelings of helplessness, anger and sadness simmer. Talk it out, frequently.

Don’t look back: “The tribe has spoken”

Make moving a collaborative process so that your loved one can be involved. After all, she is the one who’s actually moving. Work with her to organize and plan the move. It’s not about you doing it all or her doing it all. Do it together.

Once you’ve made the decision to move to assisted living, don’t look back. Don’t go 50 rounds once you’ve made the decision. This isn’t an occasion to keep asking, “Is that your final answer?” Make the call and move on.

“Just the facts, ma’am”

Don’t get fooled by sales talk or fancy brochures. Visit as many facilities as you can with your loved one. When you visit the facilities, examine all aspects of life. Never assume anything when you’re visiting—ask questions! Most importantly, use a checklist like this one to inspect the assisted living facility so you can compare the options available.

Talking to residents is one of the best ways to learn what it’s actually like to live at the facility, so don’t be shy to ask them questions! After your visit, talk with your loved one about what you both liked and disliked about each facility so you can choose the one that best fits both their needs and their wants.

“Move that bus”: How to get your home ready to sell

Your home may not need an extreme makeover, but now that you’ve chosen your ideal facility, it’s time to get your house ready to sell. Go through the house, clean it up, and make those small repairs that have been put off for years. You want your house to shine for prospective buyers! Work with a real estate professional to sell the house. It’s one less item that you have to manage, and you’ll make sure you’re getting full market value for the assets.

“Well, isn’t that special?” Bring the things that matter, but not everything

Moving into an assisted living facility means your loved one has to narrow down what they want to bring with them. First, talk to the facility to learn what is and is not allowed. Then you and your loved one need to have a talk—be careful not to assume what they want to take with them.

Make sure your loved one brings her favorite belongings. You want to avoid clutter, but you also want to recreate the feeling of home in the new space. Be careful of the temptation to buy your loved one completely new furniture for their new home—many older adults prefer to keep their favorite recliner or sleep in their own bed.

Finally, double-check that you have packed the basic, day-to-day items she will need. These include medication, shampoo, toothbrush and other toiletries. Pack enough clothing to fill the closets. Include enough underwear and socks so that there is always a clean set available. Bring sweaters for air conditioning, and nice outfits for socializing events.

Choosing which items to bring can be the most difficult part of this process. Your loved one will likely need to downsize. Keep up the conversation with her so that everything she needs to be happy and feel at home is packed to bring with her.

“Grab your gear” (Or better yet, have someone else grab it)

Once you’ve decided what your loved one is bringing with her, it’s time to get it over to the new place. Let a moving company take care of things. While they do the heavy lifting, you can go over the paperwork to update your loved one’s address with the post office and necessary companies. You want her to continue getting her mail!

“Hi, everybody!” Make some new friends

It can be hard to make friends as a senior. She doesn’t have to announce herself every time she enters a room at the new facility, but your mother will have to try a bit. Work with your loved one to create a friend strategy before you arrive. Encourage them to meet the neighbors. Look at all of the available activities and pick a few to try. Meeting new friends and staying busy will ease the transition and make living in the facility much more enjoyable.

Conclusion

You’re not Mighty Mouse. Your job isn’t to save the day. Just do a little planning and help her transition to assisted living. Bring your plan and do the work, and you’ll be just fine. Remember, with clear eyes and a full heart, you can’t lose.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is an NAHB Certified Aging In Place Expert and has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home. As the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company, Shayne writes about issues that matter to seniors and those that care about them.

The Last Stop: On the Go

For nine installments, I’ve been describing my senior living experiences. This month, I want my readers to know how good it feels to get away. I feel fortunate that I have places to go, people who want to see me and that I can handle the unpredictable, challenging experience of travel.

So far, so good.Margery prepares for takeoff!

When I went to Beijing to visit my son, he suggested I order a wheelchair when I landed to get me to where he would be waiting. I was insulted and firmly told him I had no problem walking and he should know that. The truth is, he was travel-smart and I was dumb.

In a country where few understand my language and I don’t understand theirs, there is a huge risk of getting misdirected when traveling alone and not being able to ask anyone for help. He was so right and I was stupidly vain. I was sure glad I did what he told me anyway. I went from the plane to the wheelchair to his car without a hitch.

Read more about Margery’s travels, including some helpful advice for seniors who decide to hit the road, in “Part 11: On The Road.”

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”

5 Tips to Help Seniors Saving for Retirement

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 28 percent of retirees feel they have enough money saved up for their retirement. It’s probably safe to assume that the rest of those folks are dealing with a significant amount of stress.

The older we get, the harder it is to pull in any income, meaning that your sunset years could be obscured by a stormy horizon. Not to fear, though—there are several things seniors can do to generate more cash, or spend less of it, after they’ve retired. Check out these five tips.

1. Cut Your Food CostsTips to Help Seniors Saving for Retirement

If you’re not clipping coupons from the Sunday paper to save on groceries, start now. It’s a tried-and-true method of conserving funds, and it’s just as effective as it was when you were younger. If you know your way around a smartphone, try out apps like Grocery Pal and Checkout 51. Like to eat out at restaurants? Visit deal-of-the-day websites like Groupon and LivingSocial to get 50-percent-off vouchers for restaurant trips.

2. Get Healthier

According to Fidelity, the average 65-year-old couple who retired last year can plan on spending $220,000 on healthcare expenses throughout their retirement. Although I don’t dispute that number, I firmly believe it’s possible to spend significantly less. Join the YMCA (the Silver Sneakers program may be offered for free) or start a workout program at home. Get active and you can not only live longer, you can lower your health insurance costs, to boot.

3. Reduce Entertainment Expenses

My mom is 82 years old. Sure, she could spend her money on theater tickets and fancy restaurants, but instead she invites all of her kids over every other Saturday for a fun game night—a great, inexpensive way to spend time with the ones she loves.

You can also save money by cutting the cable cord and signing up for Hulu Plus or Netflix. Or, rent movies from Redbox for a little more than $1 per day. There are countless ways to cut your entertainment costs during retirement, so don’t let pricier options fritter away at your nest egg.

4. Save on Travel

Use websites like BookingBuddy or CheapOair to track flight prices and save on airfare. Your preferred airline’s website may also offer a cheap rate that won’t necessarily be advertised elsewhere. Travel during the week when possible, book your flights from Monday through Thursday when most sales are going on, and combine luggage to save on checked bag fees.

5. Get Rid of a Car

Got two cars? You probably don’t need both of them. Even if you only have one, though, think seriously about selling it. If your neighborhood has a decent public transit system, you might be able to get around without a set of wheels altogether. You can not only save on gas by making this move, but also insurance, upkeep and a variety of other expenses associated with automobile ownership.

Drumming up extra money during retirement isn’t an easy task. Banking institutions are not going to offer you retirement loans, and your kids are probably dealing with their own financial difficulties. Do what you can today to drum up more money for your golden years and you just might find that the retirement you’re hoping for is within reach.

What other tips do you know of for retirees who need more money?

Martin Davis writes about senior living, retirement savings, investing, and smart money management.

Innovations in Fall Prevention Interventions: Fall Prevention for Older Adults

Fall prevention for older adults has long been a focus of senior-related programs and services. You’ll find ample information online for seniors and caregivers, such as information on getting a fall risk assessment, fall prevention exercises, or even fall prevention checklists for a safer home environment.Preventing Falls in the Elderly

But it’s not enough. Every year, one in every three adults 65 and older will fall, according to the National Safety Council. So researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago are taking matters into their own hands with an innovative approach to fall prevention: tripping seniors intentionally to train them to avoid falls in the first place.

Falls in the elderly are a serious health risk

A minor trip or fall is one thing, but falls in older adults can lead to serious injuries, such as hip fractures and even head trauma, which take months to recuperate from and often leave seniors with permanent disabilities.

In fact, NIHSeniorHealth, a website providing aging-related information to older adults created by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), names hip fractures as the leading cause of injury and loss of independence among older adults.

Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) names falls as the leading cause of both non-fatal and fatal injuries among older adults.

In short, it’s a very serious concern for seniors and their loved ones. Fortunately, many falls are preventable, and increased fall prevention is precisely what researchers are trying to achieve with this new program.

Program promotes subconscious learning

According to MedicalXpress, this new approach is based on, “promising, preliminary results with a lab-built walkway that causes people to unexpectedly trip, as if stepping on a banana peel.”

The same concept is being tested with computerized treadmills, and if it works, researchers hope to place specially-designed treadmills in physicians’ offices, health centers and physical therapy clinics to train older adults to avoid future falls.

Clive Pai, a physical therapy professor leading this innovative research effort, says this program focuses on subconscious learning, whereas more traditional fall prevention methods have emphasized muscle training and improvements in range of motion.

The traditional methods do produce some results, but it can take many months of therapy and exercise to adequately strengthen muscles in some patients.

Intentionally tripping older adults proves promising for fall prevention

The research is funded by a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging and hopes to enroll 300 participants within the next five years. It’s promising because the process promotes implicit learning and so far, has proven to train older adults adequately within much shorter time frames than traditional fall prevention techniques.

In preliminary research, participants were strapped to a harness—which helped them maintain their upright position if needed—and hooked up to sensors that would analyze their movements. Research students pressed a button that caused a sliding walkway to move suddenly, forcing participants to struggle to regain their balance.

The results of this preliminary research showed that 24 provoked “trips” in a single session reduced participants’ chances of falling outside the lab setting by 50 percent up to one year later. This research shows promise, although it will likely require several more years of rigorous study to prove its true effectiveness.

More research on fall prevention on the way

Additionally, Medical Xpress reports that the National Institutes of Health is sponsoring a $30 million research effort. This research will evaluate other, mostly conventional fall prevention interventions that can be tailored and adapted to the individual risk profiles and needs of older adults to reduce the number of serious and even minor injuries from falls in the senior population.

As a part of this effort, researchers hope to enroll 6,000 older adults—age 75 and older—at 10 centers throughout the United States.

Fall prevention tips you can use today Exercise for fall prevention

While researchers are working in cooperation with the government to create more effective fall prevention techniques for older adults, there are some steps that you can take today to help protect your elderly loved ones against devastating falls.

  • Participate in muscle-strengthening and balance-reinforcing exercises regularly.
  • Avoid wearing bifocals or multi-focal glasses while walking.
  • Give your home environment a safety run-through, checking for cluttered furniture, loose rugs, cords and other hazards.
  • Add handrails to bathrooms, hallways and other areas where falls are likely.
  • Enhance lighting options in dim areas, and make sure it’s easy to activate lights.
  • Get regular vision exams.
  • Talk with your physician about medication side-effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Use a cane or walker if needed for better balance.

Get more fall prevention tips with this helpful fall prevention checklist from the National Safety Council and by reading our article on Preventing Falls and Brain Injury.

Joan’s Journey: One Senior’s Journey Motivates Another

Welcome Joan’s Journeyers! I write this on a lovely, sunny Sunday in Santa Monica. I have a big smile on my face and I’m delighted to share why with you.

First, I’m happy and content after spending Friday afternoon at the fabulous Santa Monica Pier and Beach with my grandson Oliver, 4, and granddaughter Madeline, 1. Oliver threw five balls at the Game Park and won a toy whale for himself and a giraffe for his sister. In terms of quality time spent with my grandchildren, moving to senior living and changing my lifestyle is ever so worth it.

The second reason I’m in a good mood is that our activity director, Brenda Martinez, declared today “Grandparents Appreciation Day” at Holiday Villa East (HVE). We had a delightful social hour, with lovely tables set with pretty dishes and flowers. Iced peach tea, hot tea and lemon, blueberry and sesame cakes were delicious companions to the conversations.

Third, I’m smiling from a lovely email I received from my SeniorHomes.com Care Advisor, Cindy Fox. I had the pleasure of working more than two years with Cindy as my Care Advisor. Cindy patiently guided me in identifying appropriate senior residences that fit the criteria we jointly determined, including location, budget and degree of independent living.

Cindy brings a smile to my face because, after much deliberation and following Joan’s Journey, Cindy is relocating to senior living. Cindy’s email is so expressive and heartfelt, that with her permission, I am sharing her thoughts with Joan’s Journeyers. Sharing experiences helps decision-making. SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to share your senior living relocation experiences with us in the Comment Box below.

Cindy Speaks

“Seems like this is the time for change in our lives. We reach a certain age and suddenly have the need to be closer to family. As I am quickly approaching 61, I too have had an awakening that is moving me in new directions.

“I have decided to relocate back East to be there for my 82-year-old mom and closer to my daughter and 3-year-old grandson. Being on the West Coast, while they are on the East Coast, has made it difficult to visit and have meaningful time together. I am putting my strong aversion to the East Coast winters aside and leaving in less than a week. I will be driving across country with books on tape and good music as companions. I hope to complete the journey in four days or less!

“I am looking forward to being present for my mom during her final years and having more time with my grandson. I am sure you [Joan] are feeling the same. I hope life continues to bring magical moments. Thanks for sharing your Journey with me. I have and will continue to enjoy hearing about you on your blog!”

Joan’s Journey and SeniorHomes.com wish Cindy and all journeyers much joy and happiness as they relocate close to those they hold most dear.

In the next Joan’s Journey, we move from celebrating life to celebrating death—a real dynamic of living in a senior residence—and one I never considered on my journey. Accidents, illness, dying, and death are part of the senior community rhythm. How a residence deals with these realities is important as one investigates senior living. Until the next post, enjoy the Journey, day-by-day.

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle correspondent and noted magazine writer/editor, now specializes in freelance writing/editing of issues relating to seniors. London moved to a senior community in Southern California, where she has enhanced her quality of life and is close to her children and grandchildren. Follow all of Joan’s Journey at SeniorHomes.com.