September 22, 2017 is the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD)—celebrated, appropriately enough, on the first day of fall.
Preventing falls is important for all age groups, but it is particularly important for older Americans. Here’s why:
• 1 in 3 older Americans falls every year—with falls the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for those of us over age 65.
• More than 90% of older adults have a chronic health condition such as arthritis or diabetes that can increase the risk of falling.
• Every 11 seconds, an older American visits the ER for a fall-related injury.
• Falls result in hip fractures and other broken bones as well as head injuries.
That’s the bad news. But the good news—and it’s very good news, indeed—is that most falls are preventable.
Here are six tips from the Falls Free® program of the National Council on Aging. (For more information, including an excellent short video, visit the council’s site at www.ncoa.org/FPAD.)
1. Find a balance/exercise program to increase your stability, strength, and flexibility and improve your gait. (Tip: Sterling Court has several great ones. See below for more info.)
2. Talk to your doctor if you’ve fallen or are afraid you’ll fall. (Your doctor or healthcare provider can assess your potential for falls.)
3. Check your medications. Any med or combination of meds can cause dizziness. (Tell your doctor or pharmacist what you’re taking, because even over-the-counter stuff can cause problems.)
4. Have a yearly eye and hearing exam. (Recent studies show that hearing problems can be linked to falls.)
5. Keep your environment safe. (That means improving lighting, removing obstacles, using non-slip mats in the shower, etc.)
6. Talk to your family. (Share any concerns you have and ask them to help you in your efforts to be fall-free.)
Improving your Balance
Sterling Court has a rich menu of balance improvement opportunities:
• Mind Jog & Exercise to Asian Music with Debbie Au – Every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the Revere Room
• Senior Fitness Video – Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11 a.m. in the Revere Room
• Sterling Walkers – Every Friday at 11 a.m., weather permitting
• Yoga with April – Every Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Revere Room
• Shape up with Sofia De La Vega – Every Monday at 11 a.m. in the Revere Room
These terrific classes focus on balance, posture, core strength, stamina, and mental agility—all the things you need to prevent you from falling. An added bonus: You’ll have fun and sleep better, too.
For some up-close-and-personal tips on preventing falls, mark your calendar for 10 a.m., Friday, September 22 in the Revere Room. We’ll be celebrating Falls Prevention Awareness Day with a speaker!
Read this article and more in our September newsletter.
As a teenager, Helen Pakush was very involved with Ukrainian dancing—which is reflected in the decorative plaques that line the front door frame of her apartment. “I loved that kind of dancing,” she says, “and I still play many of my old LPs.”
Helen was born to Mary and Nicholas Pakush on the ethnically rich and vibrant Lower East Side of New York. Her parents emigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine, and found it a congenial place to raise their seven children. Helen’s father was a waiter on Wall Street, where he learned English and also to read and write. Helen’s mother was raised by her aunt and saved her earnings as a farm laborer to leave the old country. “My mother couldn’t read or write,” recalls Helen, “but she had great common sense. One day, I came home from school, crying because someone called me an ugly name, and she told me to recite ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will not hurt me.’”
After graduating from Washington Irving High School, where she excelled in math, Helen went to work for Equitable Life Insurance Company in its medical insurance lines. “I had wanted to be a nurse,” she said, “but my mother dissuaded me. She said I’d learn more as a secretary and get paid more. I think it’s the other way around these days.”
Helen met her late husband Nicholas, who was of Russian-Ukrainian background, at a picnic at College Point, N.Y. “I didn’t like him, and he didn’t like me. He said I was too skinny.” Still, Nicholas wrote to her when he went abroad to work as a civilian mechanic for the Boeing Company to assist Britain on a special project called Project 19. “He was abroad during the entire war,” Helen says. “He went to England, Africa, and India. That travel, I believe, was equivalent to a college education.”
Nicholas and Helen reconnected after the war and began to date. Nicholas worked in international sales for General Tire, and Helen was attracted by his excellent manners and work ethic. “Back in those days, we really dressed up to go on a date, and Nick loved to go to nice restaurants and Broadway shows.”
The young couple married and soon had three children—Barbara, Audrey, and Nicholas Jr. Nick was transferred to California, which Helen believes was “the best thing that ever happened to me.” After looking at various areas, including Foster City, which Helen laughingly describes as “looking like a sand dune at that time,” they moved to a new housing development on Los Altos Place in San Mateo.
Nick traveled extensively for business, and the children became involved in scouting, dance, and Little League baseball. Helen played “mother hen” to neighborhood children at the family’s backyard swimming pool and later went to work for the San Mateo County Medical Society. “It’s ironic,” she says, “that I never became a nurse but was involved in the medical field during my work life. My daughter Barbara is a nurse today and got her PhD in nursing from UC Davis.”
Helen has lived at Sterling Court for nearly a year and enjoys it. When asked to sum up her view of life, she points to her strong religious faith. “We’re all born with eyes, a nose, ears, and hands to work with,” she comments. “Our ten fingers remind us of the Ten Commandments. All we need to do is look at each finger and ask ourselves if we have followed the commandments that day. It’s so simple, and it has kept me on the right track.”
Read this article and more in our September newsletter.
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