Posts Tagged ‘older adults’

Autumn is quickly approaching, but for older adults and their caregivers the word fall is more than just a season. For many older adults, the word fall can bring up fearful thoughts of injury, loss of independence, and even death. Unfortunately, the statistics support this fear. Falls are the leading cause of injuries for older Americans. Did you know that 1 in 4 older adults fall each year? It is a staggering statistic that leads to an older adult being treated in the emergency room every 11 seconds for a fall related injury. Falls among older adults are very costly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year, about $50 billion is spent on medical costs related to non-fatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent related to fatal falls.

However, there is an additional cost to consider. That is the impact that falls have on caregivers. Caregiving can be a tough job that can take a toll on the caregiver’s health, especially as their loved one’s health declines. A single fall can impact the care recipient’s health adversely. Caregivers have reported a significant increase in caregiver burden after a loved one’s first fall, and increased anxiety over concerns for their loved one’s safety and well-being.

Falls prevention is a group effort. The National Council of Aging has a Falls Prevention Conversation Guide For Caregivers that provides caregivers with tools to help them take preventative steps to reduce the risk of their loved one falling. Below are three steps designed to help prevent a loved one’s serious injury, help them stay healthy, and maintain an independent lifestyle. The information gathered in these steps can help start a conversation with the person you are caring for to determine if they are at risk for a fall, and develop an action plan.

  1. Complete the Falls Free Check Up Assessment to determine if the person you are caring for is at risk for a fall.
  2. Talk about falls prevention with others. Use the observations from Step 1 to start a conversation with family, friends, physicians, and the person that you are providing care. The guide includes conversation notes on how to begin.
  3. Develop a falls prevention action plan. Now is the time to put the information gathered from the first 2 steps into action by immediately creating a falls prevention action plan. The guide shares 7 action steps to help create the action plan.

Many people think that falls are just an inevitable part of aging. However, most falls are preventable. September 20th-24th, 2021 is Falls Prevention Awareness Week. This campaign brings awareness to the prevalence and prevention of falls. To find more information about the topic and Falls Prevention Awareness Week, visit the National Council on Aging or the Ohio Department of Aging.

Written by: Kathy Tutt, OSU Extension Educator, Clark County, tutt.19@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Kellie Lemly MEd., OSU Extension, Family Consumer Science Educator, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu


Cost of Older Adult Falls, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Retrieved September 13, 2021 from: https://www.cdc.gov/falls/data/fall-cost.html

Dow, B., Meyer, C., Moore, K.J., & Hill, K.D. (2013). The impact of care recipient falls on caregivers. Australian Health Review, 37(2), 152-157

Falls Prevention Conversation Guide For Caregivers, The National Council on Aging, Retrieved September 13, 2021 from: https://assets-us-01.kc-usercontent.com/ffacfe7d-10b6-0083-2632-604077fd4eca/fd1890e1-4a6b-4ede-9acb-4775de02f27f/2021-Falls-Prevention-Awareness-Week_Conversation-Guide-for-Caregivers_English_6-29.pdf

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As people age they typically need less food (less calories), but about the same amount of most vitamins and minerals.  This means that older adults need to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods — those high in vitamins and minerals at a lower calorie “cost”.  Nutrient-dense foods include most fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, lean meats, legumes, and whole grains.  As one eighty-five year old put it, “I need more carrots and less coconut cake.”

Increasingly, research is finding that specific foods – typically the more colorful, plant-based foods – have disease-fighting capabilities. Blue, purple, and red foods, such as berries, are rich in phytochemicals that may reduce risk for some cancers.

Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, may be beneficial in preventing or slowing the disease of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in aging adults.

For the typical caregiver, buying nutrient-dense foods means shopping with color in mind. Upon entering the grocery store, start with the produce section and select a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those in season. Buying produce in season is important for taste and nutrition, and it is economical. Spend as little time as possible in the aisles with processed or canned foods. Those generally contain ingredients, like sugar, salt, and fat, which add calories with few or no micronutrients that are important for good health.

Start slowly and select one or two appealing vegetable items; then identify a variety of simple tasty ways to prepare them. The options abound. Even something less well known, such as kale (the curly-edged, dark green, leafy vegetable often used as garnish in restaurants}, has tasty possibilities. Consider making “kale chips” by washing and thoroughly drying the kale and cutting it into chip-size pieces with kitchen shears. Be sure to remove the middle rib on each leaf of kale. Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle the pieces with a little olive oil and sprinkle them with a seasoning (such as turmeric, nutmeg or a salt-substitute). Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Another approach might be to place cut-up, well washed, and dried kale leaves in a blender or food processor and turn them into flakes. Store those flakes in the freezer in a sealable bag. Regularly add a spoonful of kale flakes to soups or sprinkle on salads. Those are just a few of the type of ideas found on Oregon State University’s recipe Website http://healthyrecipes.oregonstate.edu.

The question of food as medicine?
Deliciously so.

Source:  http://www.extension.org/pages/The_Question_of_Food_as_Medicine

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