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As aging occurs many experience the loss of strength, power, and balance, but why? The reason is sarcopenia

An elderly person sitting with their arms in their lap, hands clasped together

What is Sarcopenia?

Sarcopenia is a medical term for muscle loss. This naturally occurring muscle fiber loss starts around the age of 30. Muscle loss may begin at a rate of 3-5% and can gradually increase by 10% per decade. By the age of 80, up to 50% of limb muscle fibers can be lost.

Why is it important to understand muscle loss?

Muscle loss plays a key role in many day-to-day activities from climbing stairs to opening cupboards. Our limb muscles provide us with strength and stability to complete those tasks. Muscle strength is also a key component of balance. Maintaining muscle strength throughout life can prevent falls, the number one accidental cause of death in adults over the age of 65. Muscle strength also helps older adults maintain independence and quality of life.

How can one prevent muscle loss?

Poor diet and physical inactivity are risk factors for sarcopenia. Eating a nutrient-rich diet to support healthy aging and remaining physically active can go a long way toward preventing muscle loss. Although the body needs many nutrients to run efficiently, the following nutrients are specifically useful for preventing muscle loss and promoting healthy aging:

MyPlate
  • Protein – Takes care of cell repair and regeneration
  • Folate / Folic Acid – Decreases risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease
  • Vitamin B12 – Assists folate to reduce risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease
  • Vitamin D – Aids in calcium absorption, helps repair the nervous system, and aids the immune system
  • Calcium – Aids in blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction and blood clotting
  • Iron – Transports oxygen through the body, works with folate and vitamin B12 for DNA synthesis and protein transportation
Two older adults doing dancing or doing tai chi in a park

Exercise is important as well. There have been many studies done to determine which types of exercise are most effective for older adults, and Tai Chi has been identified as an effective way to maintain muscle mass because it helps with balance and skeletal strength. Other beneficial activities include swimming, yoga, Pilates, bodyweight training, and cardio training like walking or running. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, and walking 30 minutes five times a week is a good starting place. Exercise routines should be based on your personal needs and your primary care physician’s recommendation. Any activity is better than none!

Written by: Angela Manch, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University and Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County

Sources:

Acclimate Nutrition (2022). Sarcopenia. https://sites.google.com/view/sarcopeniabasics/home

Fielding, R. (2021). Muscle Loss in Older Adults and What to Do About It. https://now.tufts.edu/2021/02/09/muscle-loss-older-adults-and-what-do-about-it

Lobb, J. (2021). Smart Eating for Healthy Aging. Ohio State University Extension. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/ss-207

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf

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Senior woman sitting on carpet and touching forehead with hand

Falls are the leading cause of injury, even fatal injury, among older adults, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 1 in 4 Americans experience at least 1 fall every year, resulting in over 800,000 hospitalizations annually. Unfortunately, the numbers of people dying as a result of falling has been increasing, and researchers predict that by 2030, 168 deadly falls will occur each day in the U.S. 

The topic of falls is something to think and talk about. There are many commonly believed misconceptions about falls that may hinder someone from taking appropriate action that may reduce their risk of falling. For instance, some believe that loss of strength and accompanying falls are a normal part of aging and feel that limiting their activity and staying home will help prevent falls. However, the majority of falls (60%) occur in the home, while only 30% occur in public. Getting regular physical activity helps maintain strength and independence. Living spaces can be made safer by keeping floors free of clutter, making sure handrails and adequate lighting are present in all stairways, and securing rugs with double-sided tape or removing them altogether. Bathrooms can be made safer with the installation of grab bars in the tub/shower and toilet areas. 

Another misconception is that use of an assistive device, such as a cane or walker, will make a person more dependent, but these aids help many adults maintain or improve their mobility, allowing them to move about without assistance from others, even helping them to transport or carry items using a walker storage seat. For optimal benefit and safety, however, it is best for a physical or occupational therapist to provide proper fit and instruction on the use of such devices. 

While loss of balance and decreasing eyesight carry obvious risks for falls, there are other health concerns that require regular attention as well. Older adults should have their hearing and feet checked regularly;  according to John’s Hopkins Medicine, people with even mild hearing loss are 3 times more likely to fall than those with normal hearing. Certain disease states can affect the shape and sensitivity of our feet, possibly requiring special footwear for optimal safety and fit.

The National Council on Aging has set aside September 18th-24th as Falls Prevention Awareness Week, a national campaign to raise awareness of the devastating impact of falls and to increase knowledge of risk factors and actions which can be taken to prevent falls in the first place. They offer an online  “Falls Free CheckUp” tool to help individuals and family members assess fall risk and link them to other resources providing practical ways to help prevent a fall. The first step for most of us is to have a conversation, whether with a loved one we may be worried about or with our own care provider, about fall risks that should be addressed. 

Another practical way to improve mobility and decrease the risk of falling is to take part in Tai Chi for Beginners, a free online class offered Sept 19-Nov 4 through OSU Extension. Register at: https://go.osu.edu/tai-chi-autum2022

Written by Jennifer Little, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls.  NCOA Falls Prevention Week Toolkit.  https://www.ncoa.org/article/falls-prevention-awareness-week-toolkit.  Accessed 8/31/2022. 

Get the Facts on Falls Prevention.  July 21, 2022.  NCOA Center for Healthy Aging.  https://www.ncoa.org/article/get-the-facts-on-falls-prevention.

Falls Prevention Conversation Guide For Caregivers.  June 29, 2021. https://www.ncoa.org/article/falls-prevention-conversation-guide-for-caregivers

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Daughter and Mother Living with Dementia

Do you ever forget where you’ve placed your remote, or just can’t recall the name of acquaintance? When this occurs, do you wonder if you are starting to develop dementia? It’s common to become somewhat more forgetful as you age. The question is, how you can tell whether your memory lapses are part of normal aging or are a symptom of something more serious.

If you are in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, you may have noticed that you might need a bit longer to remember things, get distracted more easily or struggle to multi-task as well as you once did. You may worry that these are an early sign of dementia, it is important not to worry too much. While these changes are frustrating at times, they are a part of normal aging.  

By contrast, people with dementia have a loss of memory and other mental function severe enough that it affects their ability to live independently at home, interact is social activities and at work. While some memory loss, such as recall and recognition, is the result of the aging brain, dementia is some type of injury to the brain that goes beyond normal changes. For a variety of reasons, once-healthy neurons (nerve cells) in the brain stop working, lose connections with other brain cells, and die.

Dementia can cause a significant decline in a person’s mental abilities by affecting their capacity for things like memory, thinking and reasoning.

Although people in the earliest stages of dementia often sense the something is wrong, the illness eventually deprives them of the insight necessary to understand their problems. So it’s usually up to a family member or friend to recognize the symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Association,  Know the 10 Signs brochure highlights a list of 10 signs that should not be ignored.

  1. Memory loss that is severe enough to disrupt daily life-for example, asking for information over and over again.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems, such as trouble following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure-for example, trouble driving to a familiar location.
  4. Confusion over time or place.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, including difficulty judging distances and determining color.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing, including difficulty following or joining a conversation.
  7. Putting things in unusual places and being unable to find them again.
  8. Decreased or poor judgement-for example, giving large amounts of money to telemarketers or paying less attention to personal hygiene.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities.
  10. Changes in mood and personality, including becoming suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.

If after reading this list you are worried about yourself or someone close to you, arrange for a medical evaluation. Making a diagnosis of dementia requires a thorough examination by a physician. Many forms of dementia are not reversible, but early detection provides an opportunity to minimize other medical conditions that may bring on severe dementia symptoms earlier than they might otherwise show.

If you would like to learn more about your memory, please join us at 10a.m. on Wednesdays in May for the Virtual Master of Memory. These four sessions will be offered online. Sessions will include information on memory strategies, nutrition, medications, medical conditions, and exercise for the body and mind.

Sessions are free – but registration is required. You may register here: https://go.osu.edu/masterofmemory

Written by: Kathy Tutt, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension-Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension-Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Dementia-Information-Page

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When you hear the word caregiver, what image comes to mind? Maybe what you see is someone in your family, someone you work with, a friend, or even you.  The reality is approximately 25% of adults in the United States report being a caregiver to someone with a long-term illness or disability in the past 30 days. The caregiving role can look different for everyone. Some people feel that being a caregiver makes them feel good about themselves, has taught them new skills, and has strengthened their relationship with their loved one. However, many people find themselves in a caregiving role that has a negative impact on their financial health, physical health, and mental health. In fact, there is such a concern for caregivers that  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refer to caregiving as a public health priority.

.

In addition to the health of the caregiver, these negative impacts can affect the care that is being given as well. Caregivers who experience compassion fatigue can feel hopeless, resentful, less patient, and lose empathy. They develop a negative view of their caregiving role. To be a good caregiver, you first need to care for yourself. One way to take care of yourself is to have a respite plan. The term respite means to have consistent breaks from your caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can be provided by family, friends, or outside agencies, and the services can range widely. In the January episode of the Healthy Aging Network , Dr. Teresa Young shares the following tips to get started with making a respite plan.

  1. Focus on Strengths – What are the things that have helped you make it through to this point. Is it that you are organized? Is it a sense of humor? Are you flexible?
  2. Determine the needs – Once you know your strengths, the next step is to determine what help you really need. Is it transportation? Could you use help with household chores? Do you just need time away?
  3. Be specific – Make sure to be specific when expressing needs.

For some who are already overwhelmed with responsibilities, the idea of seeking respite or creating a plan can feel like one more task that is added to their plate. Caregivers often lack a respite plan because they simply don’t know where to start. The Ohio State University Extension’s Caregiver Support Network is offering two free webinars on February 17th, 2021. The workshops are open to anyone and will focus on creating a respite plan, sharing caregiving experiences, and sharing resources. To register for the workshop, go to go.osu.edu/caregiver2021. To learn more about the Caregiver Support Network, please contact Laura Akgerman at akgerman.4@osu.edu.

Writer: Kathy Tutt, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Emily Marrison, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Coshocton County, marrison.12@osu.edu

References:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) Caregiving for Family and Friends -A Public Health Issue https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/caregiver-brief.html accessed January 2021

Day, J., Anderson, R. Davis, L. (2014) Compassion Fatigue in Adult Daughter Caregivers of a Parent with Dementia, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Vol 35, Issue 10

Schulz, R., Sherwood, P. (2008) Physical and Mental Health Effects of Family Caregiving. American Journal of Nursing, Sep: Vol 108, Issue 9, pgs. 23-27

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Good Mental Health is a Precursor to Good Physical Health

It’s no secret that our society is living longer.  Based on the U.S. 2017 Census Report, by 2040 the number of individuals 85 years old and over are projected to increase by 129%.  The thought of my friends and family living longer is certainly appealing to me.  However, with the aging process comes added physical and mental health concerns for caregivers.

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the most common chronic physical conditions aging adults experience include:

            Health Disease

            Cancer

            Chronic bronchitis or emphysema

            Stroke

            Diabetes mellitus

            Alzheimer’s disease

Many of us are familiar with the physical conditions but did you know, mental conditions can be just as debilitating if not treated?  Mental health issues are often overlooked or viewed as a “normal” part of the aging process.  Let’s be clear, mental health problems are not a normal part of aging and should not be overlooked!  One in four (6 to 8 million) older adults age 65 or older experiences a mental health disorder and the number is expected to double to 15 million by 2030.  The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and depression/bipolar. 

Good physical health is a precursor to good mental health and good mental health is a precursor to good physical health.  To age at our full potential, we must place the same value for treatment of mental conditions as we do on physical.  Recognizing the warning signs and seeking treatment can improve quality of life.  Signs and symptoms can vary but examples include:

            Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite

            Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions

            Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

            Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge

            Increased worry or feeling stressed

            Anger, irritability or aggressiveness

            Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain

            A need for alcohol or drugs

            Sadness or hopelessness

            Suicidal thoughts

            Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions

            Engaging in high-risk activities

            Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior

            Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life

            Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people

If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or a loved one, please make an appointment to discuss these concerns with your doctor.  Treatment works and the earlier the intervention the better the outcome for recovery and improved quality of life. 

Please remember if you or someone you know is in crisis, call the toll-free National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or text the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.  Both hotlines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and all calls/texts are confidential! 

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, M.S., Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University

Reviewed by: Emily Marrison, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Older Adults Living with Serious Mental Illness – The State of the Behavioral Health Workforce. store.samhsa.gov/system/files/new_older_adults_living_with_serious_mental_illness_final.pdf.

“Older Adults.” Older Adults | Healthy People 2020, http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/older-adults.

“Behavioral Health for Older Adults: Mental Health.” NCOA, http://www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/behavioral-health/.

“Older Adults and Mental Health.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/older-adults-and-mental-health/index.shtml.

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Happy BirthdayWhen it comes to birthdays, people seem to have mixed emotions.  Kids look forward to turning a year older, counting down the days until their next birthday and often saying their age with the “and a half” added to it.  Children also look forward to their milestones – becoming a teenager, turning 16, then 18, then 21 – for various reasons.  Eventually, though, the years begin to pass more quickly and the birthdays seem to just keep coming.  As adults, some of us are happy to have our birthday come around again while many would prefer not to think about it.

When a birthday arrives, it may seem like any other day; you have to keep stopping to remember that the day is extra special.  Sometimes you might forget, remembering only when someone walks by you and says “Happy Birthday!”  Because I personally am prone to this tendency, years ago I started observing the week of my birthday and celebrating all week long.  By doing so, I am not forcing myself to cram all my excitement, thoughts, and feelings into a 24-hour period in which eight hours are spent sleeping.

I like my birthday and look forward to it every year. I always have!  How about you? How do you feel about your birthday?  If you’re in the camp that doesn’t like having a birthday and turning a year older, it may be helpful to focus on your birthday as a celebration of another year of life.  The American Cancer Society once had a campaign called “More Birthdays” in which they observed and celebrated years lived well to see a world with more birthdays.

youth-570881_640Taking a positive approach to birthdays in which you express gratitude for your health and life may actually improve your overall attitude and outlook in the days to come!  My close and oldest friend (not oldest in age, but the one I have known since first grade!) and I celebrated our 40th birthdays at a “getaway spa” in another state.  Since the “big ones” get fewer as we get older, we decided to celebrate the decade ones in style, or at least in our own style.  This year my friend and I have planned another “birthday trip” to celebrate turning “50”.

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states highlighting time-based landmarks – such as birthdays – may help to motivate positive behavior change and promote success in future-oriented goals.  I started planning my “turning 50 years old” celebration when I was 47 “and a half”.  My plan was to be physically the strongest I have ever been come age 50, even stronger than when I played sports in high school.  I got myself a personal Pilate’s instructor who provided me with a mix of cardio and strength training, and thus I began my journey toward my 50th birthday.  When the day arrived, I had met my goal and made turning 50 years “old” feel like 50 years “young”.

Isn’t that the take away from birthdays – giving thanks and looking forward to celebrating our birth no matter how old we are or where we are in our life journey? Be grateful today for the chance to think about or plan another year. When your next birthday comes around, take advantage of the opportunity to hit the reset button and/or celebrate another year well lived.

Sources:

American Cancer Society (2008). Official Sponsor of Birthdays. http://relay.acsevents.org/site/PageServer?pagename=RFL_CA_Home_Birthdays

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Peetz, J. & Wilson, A. E. (2013). The post-birthday world: Consequences of temporal landmarks for temporal self-appraisal and motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2), 249-266. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-27895-001

Written by: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, heer.7@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu.

 

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ud freontAre you thinking of making some changes to your home to make it easier to live in as you age, but just don’t know where to start? Many changes associated with implementing Universal Design features are fairly minor, inexpensive, and require little effort (i.e., changing round door knobs to lever door handles). Other changes, however, are more significant, more expensive, and may require a professional contractor. For example, a colleague of mine shared a story about her sister converting a closet on the main floor into a bathroom with a walk in shower and a laundry room in her 100 year old home in order to be able to remain in her home due to a chronic illness. Regardless of the type of change your home requires, once you make a decision to make modifications to your home, the next two steps are to decide on the extent of change you will make and to identify specific ways in which to implement these changes.

DECIDING ON WHAT HOME MODIFICATIONS TO MAKE

Once you recognize that your home or the home of a loved one is in need of modifications, whether for safety concerns or to enable them to age in place, it is important to carefully consider both the personal abilities and limitations of the person who lives in this home as well as which features in the home require attention.

An “assessment” is a comprehensive review of an individual’s mobility, sensory, environmental, and financial condition. This type of tool can assist in identifying what areas need the most attention and what home modifications might improve someone’s quality of life or make their environment more accessible and comfortable.

An assessment conducted by a professional can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to conduct and usually involves a fee. Individuals can also conduct their own assessments using free downloadable worksheets from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) web site.

LOCATING HOME MODIFICATION OR ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT PRODUCTS

Because working with adaptive equipment and universal design features may not be an area of expertise for the contractor you hire, you may have to find some of the UD shoppingproducts yourself. When shopping for supplies and equipment, make sure to ask for Universal Design products. They may require placing a special order, so be certain to give yourself and your contractor time for delivery. If you can’t find what you want at your local retail store, you can also look online for Universal Design catalogs.

PLAN AND CARRY OUT THE INSTALLATION

  • When you have decided exactly what you want to do, and the size of the job required, assess your own or a family member’s skill to accomplish the job. If you have a modest income, you may be eligible for a home assessment/home modification program in your community or county.
  • Check with your local Area Office on Aging, senior center, independent living center, or Community Action Agency for information on home modification programs available in your community.
  • Contact your Local Community Development Department. Many cities and towns use Community Development Block Grants to assist individuals in maintaining and upgrading their homes.
  • Ask local Lenders and Banks about loan options. Some lenders offer Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM’s) that allow homeowners to turn the value of their home into cash, without having to move or make regular loan payments.

Are there things that you can do to make your home more accessible? Remember to start by assessing your home, exploring your needs and developing a plan that will allow you to age in place.

SOURCES

Livable Lingo: Our Livability Glossary. Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/tool-kits-resources/info-2015/planning-and-policies.html, July 16, 2018.

 

Written by: Kathy Goins, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, goins.115@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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Does your home fit you? It is the pivotal question asked when takitchenlking about the concept of Universal Design. So what is Universal Design? It is a worldwide movement based on the idea that all environments and products should be usable by all people, regardless of their ages, sizes, or abilities. Because this movement applies to everyone, the concept of Universal Design is known around the world as “design for all,” “inclusive design,” and “life-span design.”

An important component of Universal Design is the maintenance of aesthetics. In other words, to create something that is still “visually pleasing” to others despite being accessible to everyone. Function does NOT have to sacrifice beauty. As a result, universally designed homes and public buildings can be just as beautiful and welcoming as any other design approach. Increasingly, experts are referring to the concept of Universal Design as the “wave of the future.” It is the hope of Universal Design advocates that eventually all buildings, homes, and products will be designed to meet the needs of everyone.

WHY HOME MODIFICATION?

Whether you are building a new home, or repairing or renovating an existing home, you too can incorporate characteristics of Universal Design through home modification. These modifications can vary from building a new home with universally designed features, to simple installation of lever door knobs on an older home, to more complex structural changes in an existing home, such as installing a walk-in shower or an accessible ramp. The goal of home modification for existing homes is not to entirely redesign the home but to make a range of changes or repairs that result in your home being a comfortable, user-friendly, and safer place to live.

bathroomImplementing Universal Design home modifications can result in a home that you can remain in as you age. This concept is often referred to as “aging in place.” The idea behind “aging in place” is to enable individuals to live independently in their homes for as long as possible. The goal is to avoid having to relocate simply because one’s home is too difficult to get around in.

WHAT ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN?

A group of Universal Design advocates from the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University have developed seven principles of Universal Design. These principles can be applied to evaluate existing environments or products, serve as guidelines in the development or renovation of existing environments, and serve to educate consumers and professionals wanting to understand the characteristics of this design approach.

Principle 1: Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

Principle 4: Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions of the user’s sensory abilities.

Principle 5: Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with a minimum of fatigue.

Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use, regardless of the user’s body size, posture, or mobility.

The American Association of Retired Persons provides a Home Fit Quiz which gives suggestions on home modifications that can make your home safe and comfortable for years to come

Remember, a home that has universal design features is a home that fits everyone’s needs whether they are young or old, short or tall, with physical limitations or without.

Writer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educatore, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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With advances in medical care, longer life expectancies, and more people living with chronic disease more of us will be participating in the caregiver process. If you find yourself in the caregiving role, you may be experiencing a variety of feelings. Here are some feelings common among those caring for a family member.

Anxiety and worry – about additional responsibilities and expenses, the future…

Anger or resentment – toward the patient or the world in general…. Or even toward friends or others who don’t have the responsibilities of caregivers.

Guilt – You may feel like you should do more, or have more patience, or be more available.

Grief – You experience loss with the caregiving role… the future you envisioned, the health of the loved one you’re caring for… the eventual loss of your loved one if he or she is terminally ill.

Accept your feelings and know you are not alone. Find someone you can confide in to share your feelings and help you deal with them. You could seek additional support from other family members, friends, church, caregiver organizations or therapists.

caregiver-helping-elderly-woman-350

HelpGuide.org offers these tips for caregivers:

Learn about your family member’s illness and about how to be a caregiver. Knowing more will lesson your anxiety and increase your effectiveness.

Seek out others who are caregivers. It’s always helpful to know you’re not alone and others experience similar things. Is there a support group in your area? Family Caregiver Alliance offers resources for caregivers.

Trust your instincts when it comes to sorting through doctor’s treatment suggestions. You know your family member the best.

Encourage your loved one to be independent. Explore technologies or adaptive equipment that will allow your loved one to be as independent as possible.

Know your limits. Be reasonable about how much or your time and of yourself you can give. And communicate those limits to others… doctors, family members, extended family members. Ask for help or respite care when you need relief.

Caregiving comes with a lot of responsibility and burden at times, but can also be rewarding and satisfying knowing that you are sacrificing for a family member to help them feel more comfortable and loved.

Sources:

HelpGuide.org http://www.helpguide.org/articles/caregiving/caregiving-support-and-help.htm

Family Caregiver Alliance https://www.caregiver.org/state-list-views?field_state_tid=94

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County

 

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beach scene

Photo:  American Cancer Society

It’s almost summertime and that means backyard barbecues, pool parties, and lazy afternoons in the sun.  Before you head outdoors be sure to apply enough sunscreen to generously coat skin that will not be covered by clothing – at least an ounce (or the amount in a shot glass).  Most people only apply ¼ to ½ of the amount of sunscreen that they actually need.   It should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside so your skin has time to absorb the lotion.  Be sure to use a broad spectrum water-resistant formula that protects against UVA and UVB rays with a minimum SPF of 30.  Reapply lotion at least every two hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.

Some areas of the body can be particularly vulnerable to sun damage.  Here’s how to protect those danger-prone areas from head to toe:

Scalp:  Hair doesn’t protect your scalp much, especially as hair thins while we age.  Since you can’t really put sunscreen on your head, be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat made of a tightly woven fabric.

Face:  Noses, tops of ears and lips are very vulnerable to sun damage.  Be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and apply generously to your ears and nose.  Apply lip balm with sunscreen.

Eyes:  Eyes can get sunburned when the sun is reflected off water or snow.  The damage is cumulative which increases the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.  Choose sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays with frames that contour your face.  Don’t forget the kids, too!

Back:  The skin on the back is the one of the most common spots for melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer.  Have a family member or friend apply sunscreen and watch for changes (ragged edges, varying color and sizes larger than a pencil eraser) in moles or other skin lesions.

Hands:  The backs of our hands get exposed to the sun every day, resulting in thin crackled skin with dark spots.  Be sure to wear sunscreen on your hand every day of the year.

Legs:  Women’s legs are a common area for melanoma.  Be sure to wear sunscreen if legs aren’t covered with clothing.

Feet:  Sandals expose skin to the sun causing sunburned feet.  Be sure to reapply sunscreen to your feet if you’re swimming.  Although it is not a common, the soles of the feet can get skin cancer.

Resources:  

https://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs

American Cancer Society, Protect Your Skin From the Sun, Stacy Simon, May 11, 2015.

Gannett News, USA Today, May 3, 2015,“Sunny days ahead, so don’t forget to cover up”. 

 Author:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewers:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed OSU Extension; Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA.

 

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