Category: Research

In Home Fall Prevention Exercises and Strategies

Blog written by Galen Friesen, past Covell Care Intern and CSU Graduate.

In 2014, 28.7% of community-dwelling adults 65 years or older reported falling, resulting in 29 million falls [1]. Luckily, exercise is one of the most effective interventions for falls, and there are many modalities of exercise to pick from. The minimum requirement for exercise in elderly populations is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week to see benefit [2]. Many individuals who have suffered a fall find themselves worried that if they engage in exercise they will fall again, however, it is more beneficial to begin a supervised exercise program than to completely avoid activity altogether.

First and foremost, always consult your primary care provider before starting a new exercise program; see if they have any recommendations as to what exercises would be most beneficial. Simple exercises that can be done at home include (use a chair or wall for extra stability if needed): single leg balancing, sit-squats, floor bridges, step-ups, bird-dogs, and planks. Explanations and pictures for these exercises can be found here: https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/exercise-tips-fall-prevention%E2%80%8E/. Another great resource would be your physical or occupational therapist, and they might even know a personal trainer or fitness class that they could refer you to.

Along with exercise, a great way to reduce the risk of falls in the home is to
reduce the number of obstacles in your environment – removing decorative rugs, keeping a clear floor, and providing space around corners and in walkways reduces the likelihood of environment induced falls. Take your time while transitioning from seated to standing and while entering rooms or turning corners to make sure you have a constant mindfulness about your center of balance.

[1 Grossman, D. C. (2018, April/May). Interventions to Prevent Falls in Community-Dwelling Older Adults US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement.
[2] Exercise – the Miracle Cure. (2016, June 16). Retrieved from http://www.aomrc.org.uk/reports-guidance/exercise-the-miracle-cure-0215/

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

Exercise and Centenarians

Thank you to our guest blogger Garrett Masterson, CSU graduate and Covell Care intern.

Nowadays, it is not unheard of for people to reach the golden age of 100 years. Medicinal, technological and health care advances have had big contributions to the significant increase in life expectancy. With the increase in life expectancy, comes an increase of age-related chronic diseases, as well as a need to preserve health. This requires measures such as eating healthy and maintaining an active lifestyle, including regular exercise. Regular physical activity is beneficial for a few reasons. It has been shown to help reduce the onset of diseases. Exercising regularly also slows down the documented decline in body functions as one ages. Studies have found the functional exercise capacity between the ages 50-75 to decline at a rate of 10-15% every decade. Evidence shows that a decline in physical activity leads to less blood flow throughout the heart and muscles, which can in turn lead to an increase of cardiovascular disease. Better health and less chronic diseases will help lead to a longer and more enjoyable life!

Surveys have found that only 31% of adults between 65-74 years of age report performing moderate physical activity 20+ minutes three times per week. Only 20% of adults over the age of 75 report performing the same amount of physical activity. Types of physical activity may include taking a nice walk through a park or walking through your local neighborhood. If going outdoors is not optimal, then maybe going into a gym and using stationary aerobic equipment is the route to take.

We at Covell Care have many options available for you, including gyms, personal trainers, exercise plans and much more! Contact us so we can further assist you in living further into the centenarian age! (970) 204-4331.

References: Venturelli, M., Schena, F., & Richardson, R. S. (2012). The role of exercise capacity in the health and longevity of centenarians. Maturitas, 73(2), 115-120.

The Sandwich Generation: Caring for yourself while caring for others

Guest blogger Maya Stiles, Covell Care Intern and Colorado State Student.

Many caregivers may find themselves to be “Sandwiched”; not in a yummy snack but in fact something completely different. “The Sandwich Generation” is as a phrase used to describe people roughly between the ages of 30-50 years old who are taking care of a child, while also caring for their elderly family members. These “sandwiched” people can often find themselves being pulled in every direction by providing emotional, physical, mentally and financial support.

While caring for your family can be one of the most rewarding and uplifting things, it can also cause immense stress and take a toll on you emotionally and physically. In order to care for others, you must also take care of yourself. Below are four tips to take care of yourself while
caring for others…

  1. Take Regular Breaks- We often feel like we cannot spare a minute in our day, but if you break it down by 10, 20, or 30-minute increments; you find that it becomes much more achievable.
  2. Get enough Sleep- When life starts getting crazy, good sleep seems like the first thing to go out the window. However, in order to take of others, you must prioritize yourself. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night will ensure you are rested and ready to provide quality love and care to others.
  3. Laugh often- Plain and simple- laughter is the best medicine. Keeping things light by utilizing humor is a great way to release stress and take care of yourself and others.
  4. Be aware of Burnout- Taking care of others is a full-time job and can be even more demanding when paired with other jobs and life responsibilities. Everyone needs support, even when it is hard to ask for help.

Remember, you cannot take care of others unless you take care of yourself first. Keeping these four self-care practices in the back of your mind can provide you with some relief and support. However, If you feel like you need some extra support or resources please refer to Covell Care’s services and resources at https://www.covellcare.com.

References:
https://caregiveraction.org
https://www.caregiverstress.com/stress-management/
https://www.drnorthrup.com/how-to-care-for-yourself-when-caring-for-loved-ones/

Exercise as Medicine: Activity as Depression Management

Guest blogger Galen Friesen, Covell Intern and Colorado State University graduate.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18% of the population every year. The process of treatment for mental conditions can be frustrating and extremely stressful; but a viable treatment option exists innately within every single person.

Exercise is always an option regardless of ability level, experience, or life circumstance. Exercise looks slightly different for every person, and can be tailored to meet individual needs extremely well. Public health recommendations for exercise (150 minutes hours to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise [1]) have been shown to be scientifically effective at treating depression [2]. Analysis of 80 studies also shows that benefits of exercise can even be obtained regardless of duration, as long as a consistent frequency is maintained [3]. This means that something as simple as a daily walk can help combat depression, as long as it is a consistent practice. So if long concentrated exercise sessions are not a good fit for you, consistent physical activity is still an option, if frequency is emphasized.

The main takeaway of the relationship between exercise and mental health is that exercise is an effective and proven way to mitigate symptoms of mental illness and there are seemingly endless different ways to go about exercising, so there is guaranteed to be a form of exercise that suits each individual differently.

Sources:
[1] HHS Office, & Council on Sports. (2019, February 01). Physical Activity Guidelines for
Americans. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/physical-activity-guidelines-for-americans/index.html
[2] Exercise treatment for depression: Efficacy and dose response. (2004, December 27). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379704002417
[3] Craft, L. L., & Perna, F. M. (2004). The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,06(03), 104-111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301