Category: Neurological Conditions

Home Hazards…Are they related to falls?

A 2018 study titled, The Potential to Reduce Falls and Avert Costs by Clinically Managing Fall Risk, by Judy A. Stevens, PhD and Robin Lee, PhD, MPH estimated the prevalence of seven fall risk factors and the effectiveness of seven evidence-based fall interventions.

Stevens & Lee defined a “fall risk factor as an attribute or characteristic of an individual that increases the likelihood of a fall occurring”. They go on to say that many fall risk factors are potentially modifiable (e.g. poor balance, mobility problems, impaired vision, and insufficient vitamin D). Contributing factors increase the chance of falls such as the side effects of medications and the presence of home hazards.

Lets take a focus on home hazards. Most of us feel our homes are the place we feel most safe and comfortable. But does that mean our home is truly “safe”. Here are some questions to ask your self to determine where your home sits on the safety spectrum and some techniques you can use to enhance safety.

Can you safely enter and exit your home? 
Do you have stationary chairs with arm rests that do not rock or glide? 
Does every room have a night light? 
Can you read your medication bottles? 
Can you enter and exit your shower or tub without a loss of balance?
Can you transfer to and from your toilet without difficulty? 
Do you have clear pathways throughout the home? 
Are your kitchen goods stored between the height of your knees and your shoulders? 
Are you able to retrieve items from under your bathroom sink with ease? 
Do you have throw rugs picked up? 
Do you know how to use your microwave correctly? 
Do you remember to turn off the stove or oven when finished? 
Are cords clear from being in the walkways? 
Do you know how to use your thermostat? 
Have you been free from falling in the last year?  
Do you take your medication on time consistently? 
Is there a table next to your bed for a light and to set items on? 
Is your carpet and flooring free from tears and ripples? 

Home Safety Strategies:

  1. Remove all scatter rugs, repair frayed carpet, tape or tack down loose carpet edges.
  2. Arrange furniture to allow adequate space for safe walking between and within all rooms.
  3. When using oxygen, do not smoke or use an open flame.
  4. Do not overload circuits – unplug appliances when not in use.
  5. Wear close-fitting sleeves to prevent spills and burns that could happen with loose, long sleeves.
  6. Clean up spills immediately.
  7. Use a step stool or reacher to reach high shelves – do not stand on chairs or stools.
  8. Place safety strips or a non-skid mat in bathtub/shower and install grab bars – do not use soap dishes or towel racks for support when sitting or standing.
  9. Keep closet doors and drawers closed to prevent bruises or tripping.
  10. Keep walking aids within reach and keep a nightlight on or flashlight within reach of your bed.

If you are interested in having an occupational therapist conduct a home safety assessment in your home please contact our office at (970) 204-4331. And keep in mind, most insurance plans cover the visit.

The Potential to Reduce Falls and Avert Costs by Clinically Managing Fall Risk Judy A. Stevens, PhD,1 Robin Lee, PhD, MPH2

Suicide and Depression

Depression is at the top of the list when it comes to suicide. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Covell Care would like to bring light to this difficult and often too common issue.

Regardless of age depression can creep in. Depression can be caused by a number of different factors such as change in health, recent loss of a loved one, transition to a new place/home and financial issues. It is up to all of us to keep our eyes and ears open to what those around us are saying and doing to be aware of depression symptoms. That way we can help prevent suicide in our community.

Below are warning signs that the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers. What to Watch For if You Feel Someone is at Risk:

If a person talks about:

  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Experiencing unbearable pain
  • Having no reason to live
  • Killing themselves

Specific behaviors to look out for include:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

Don’t know where to turn? Contact Covell Care to learn about our mobile counseling services. We support people who struggle with depression, anxiety, grief & loss and much more. (970) 204-4331

The Fear of Falling

Guest blogger Colorado State University and Covell Care Intern, Hailey Jungerman.

Falling can cause major issues for older adults. Injuries can range from an ankle sprain to a traumatic brain injury. These injuries can lead to high direct medical costs and indirect medical costs. Not only that, but it can lead to an increase in fall risk factors.

“Fear of falling often develops after experiencing a fall” (Tomita et al.).The same study shows that even one fall can lead to developing fear. There is a vicious circle that is associated with the fear of falling that can be hard to break without intervention. “Fear of falling is associated with negative physical and psychosocial health outcomes, including depression and
activity restriction” (Lee, Oh and Hong 2018). Once an older adult obtains this fear, the less likely they are willing to participate in activities such as exercise or even leaving their house. This can lead to weakened muscles and depression. Which in turn are more risk factors for older adults.

A team of therapists including occupational and physical therapists can help to overcome the fear of falling. Occupational therapists can assess the home for safety, both occupational and physical therapists can do a fall risk assessment on the client, and both can create a plan to address risk factors. They can suggest home modifications, address risk factors around the house, see how the patient gets around their home, and giving the patient exercises to build strength and work on balance. As the American Occupational Therapy Association’s page says, “Identifying environmental factors that contribute to falls and implementing the occupational therapy strategies to ameliorate these elements can improve safety and reduce health care costs while enhancing the participation of older adults in those communities.”

In order to keep older adults independent, it is important to have them assessed to find their risk factors. Each individual is unique, and so are their needs. Therapists working together can help to improve the quality of life by addressing fall risk in our loved ones.

For more information on Home Safety or Fall Risk Assessments call Covell Care & Rehabilitation at 970.204.4331.

Citations:
Lee, Seonhye, et al. “Comparison of Factors Associated with Fear of Falling between Older Adults with and without a Fall History.” International Journal of Environmental Research
and Public Health, vol. 15, no. 5, May 2018, p. 982., doi:10.3390/ijerph15050982.
Tomita, Yoshihito, et al. “Prevalence of Fear of Falling and Associated Factors among Japanese Community-Dwelling Older Adults.” Medicine, vol. 97, no. 4, Jan. 2018, doi:10.1097/md.0000000000009721.
Toto, Pamela. “Occupational Therapy and Prevention of Falls.” Aota.org, American
Occupational Therapy Association, 2017, www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/PA/Facts/Fall-Prevention.aspx.

Speech Therapy for MS Patients

In the US, the number of people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is estimated to be about 400,000, with approximately 10,000 new cases diagnosed every year (that’s 200 new cases per week). That is a startling statistic and many of symptoms are as well. One being the loss of speaking abilities over time.

Speech problems are a common concern for people with MS. Because MS affects the way the brain communicates with the rest of the body, it is hard for some people with MS to control the muscles used to talk. Speech therapists are trained and able to help regain or maintain speaking abilities.

Speech therapy treatment will begin by finding a baseline of the patient’s speech quality.  Establishing this baseline is important, because it gives both the patient and the therapist a clear starting point from which to judge progress. This will be followed by developing a plan to improve the patient’s speech. These plans often include exercises that will build control of facial muscles (may improve enunciation), breathing exercises (may reduce # of pauses in speech) and address other issues surrounding the use of facial and vocal muscles (i.e. difficulties swallowing).

Often forgotten, is a speech therapists ability to help MS patients with cognitive changes such as:

  • Information processing (dealing with information gathered by the five senses)
  • Memory (acquiring, retaining and retrieving new information)
  • Attention and concentration (particularly divided attention)
  • Executive functions (planning and prioritizing)
  • Visuospatial functions (visual perception and constructional abilities)
  • Verbal fluency (word-finding)

If you have more questions about Speech Therapy in regards to MS patients or in general please contact us directly. (970) 204-4331 or visit https://www.nationalmssociety.org/