Wednesday, September 21, 2022

 Falls Prevention Awareness Week is observed September 18-24, 2022, to correspond with the first week of fall.

According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans aged 65 and older suffer falls each year.  They also report that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. Along with actual falls, the fear of falling can also be detrimental to their health.  The fear of falling often reduces the number of social activities a person participates in which could lead to feelings of isolation or depression. This fear could also decrease the amount of physical activity a person does causing a loss of muscle strength and stability when walking.

The good news is that falls are preventable.  You can take steps to reduce the risk of falling by making sure your home is safe from trip hazards.  There are multiple websites that have helpful hints and checklists which point out fall or trip hazards you may or may not be aware of.  Proper lighting, cords, rugs, pets, and storage locations are all important areas to consider when looking at your environment.

Another step in preventing falls is to participate in the right exercises to improve strength and balance.  Many fitness centers, recreation centers, and even some agencies offer a variety of classes, such as A Matter of Balance or Tai Chi for Fall Prevention and Arthritis, that can help with the physical activity aspect. Some agencies offer virtual “live” classes with certified instructors, if you are not comfortable leaving your home to attend an in person class.  Stretching, aerobic exercises, and strength training all aid in preventing falls.  Be sure to check with your doctor prior to starting a new exercise program.

Getting regular health checkups can also aid in detecting increased risk factors for falls, including issues with vision, hearing, and medication impacts.   Studies have shown that a decrease in hearing or vision could increase the risk of falling. Getting your vision and hearing checked annually should help you identify if visual or hearing aids are needed to reduce your risk.  Also, talk with your doctor about the side effects or interactions from your medications.  Even a simple change in medications could increase dizziness or fatigue in some people, causing them to fall.

There are several articles, websites and tool kits available discussing risk factors, safety checklists to ‘fall proof’ your home, and different exercises to help maintain strength and balance.  Below are just a few.

National Council on Aging - https://www.ncoa.org/professionals/health/center-for-healthy-aging/national-falls-prevention-resource-center/falls-prevention-awareness-week

Healthy Aging & Physical Disability Rehabilitation Research and Training Center – University of Washington - https://agerrtc.washington.edu/index.php?q=info/factsheets/falls

CDC- https://www.cdc.gov/falls/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fhomeandrecreationalsafety%2Ffalls%2Findex.html

Eldercare  - Preventing Falls at Home checklist - https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Resources/Brochures/docs/Preventing%20Falls.pdf

~ Submitted by Penny Humphrey

Monday, July 18, 2022

Navigating aging can pose challenges to older adults, family members, and caregivers. Health care needs may change, or individuals may want to be proactive in planning ahead so they know what’s available in case they need it. Information about various services and resources for older adults can help equip them, their families, and caregivers when considering their options for aging in their place of choice, whether at home or elsewhere. Caring for the health and wellness of older adults not only includes access to medical doctors but extends to help at home, transportation, social opportunities, and mental health. 

If you want access to or assistance with the vast number of resources available to older persons and caregivers of older adults Area Agency on Aging is the place. AIRS-certified staff is available to offer support, information, referrals, counseling, and assistance to older adults and caregivers of older adults.  

It can feel overwhelming knowing where to go for this information.  Where do I start? The local senior center?  As a family member or caregiver, how do I know what’s available to support my loved one? I'm grateful to be a part of the AAA organization and AIRS certified. Thank you for all you do to assist older adults and caregivers.

 https://www.theseniorlist.com/resources/

Jamie R. Saunders, MSW

Information & Assistance Coordinator
St. Louis Area Agency on Aging

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

 Our Little Piece on the Planet Earth

Planet Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 worldwide. Helping to build a better future while preserving Planet Earth is emphasized on this day by committing to reviving public commitment and protecting our environment.

As parents, by making small changes, we can teach our children throughout the year how to make a difference at a time when our planet needs a helping hand.

1. Take your kids on nature walks- Your children will only take genuine action to protect the Earth when they experience how relaxing and beautiful nature is and want to keep enjoying it.

2. Reuse and recycle items to avoid waste. Although human beings are responsible for producing a large amount of waste, it seems that sometimes we still resist recycling. This small gesture will allow our future generations to enjoy a green and blue planet. So make a recycling plan, start sorting out cans, bottles, paper, etc., and do not put them with the garbage. That way, it won't end up going to the landfill.

Give up bottled water. Bottled water consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels to produce and transport, and most of those recyclable water bottles end up in landfills. Get a permanent, refillable water bottle to take with you. You'll save money on the cost of all those water bottles, too!

3. Avoid wasting water.

Many times consciously or unconsciously, we waste a lot of water. We need to fix the leaky faucets. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. Minimize time in the shower. Only 1 percent of Earth's water is drinkable, and our supply is slowly running out. So, emphasize the good use of water in your home and correct those leaks.

4. Grow a garden

By gardening, you grow your food and eliminate pesticides. Your children will understand the process of plant development and its benefits. You don't need a large area; container gardening works just as well. Don't forget to include plants that help butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

 5. Start shopping locally. Farmers' markets provide nutrient-dense foods in an environmentally friendly process of growing and buying food. Local farmers travel fewer distances to bring you food, using less gasoline. They also tend to practice safe agriculture without pesticides.

 Locally grown foods are easier on the environment. You're also supporting local farmers, and I'm sure they'll appreciate it!

6. Go to the errand when you have enough needs. Instead of going shopping every time you remember you need something, why not do it when you need it. This will save you time and will also reduce your fuel costs. You could even ask a family member if he needs to go shopping and you could do it together!

Let's do something positive to preserve our little piece of our Planet Earth so that we and our next generation enjoy a healthy place to live.

~Sedgwick County Extension June 2022 Newsletter

Friday, April 29, 2022

 

Arkansas 211, Here to Serve:

As the State of Arkansas was beginning to deal with the Public Health response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and safety measures were closing down businesses and public gatherings, Arkansas 211 began the process of expanding our services.  For many years, Arkansas was one of two states in the United States that had less than 20% of its population served by a 211 service.  Beginning in 2017, we engaged a cohort of AmeriCorps members to update our statewide resources. We hosted another two service years for State and National Service members.  When the pandemic began to highlight community needs, United Way of Northwest Arkansas decided to expand the service to cover the entire state of Arkansas.  We then began the process of building a team of Arkansas residents to serve as Community Resource Advisors (CRAs) to cover a virtual contact center to serve the people of our state during business hours.  We secured the services of a sister 211 provider to cover our after-hours service so that we now can answer requests from help seekers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  We also enhanced our service to the community by creating a new website for easier use by members of the community, and partner agencies.  Dallas Mudd, Executive Director of Arkansas 211, is fond of saying that when help seekers contact 211, it is because they are facing challenges.  It is our goal to be the best thing that happens to them during these challenging times by:

  • Providing a confidential, judgement-free environment
  • Validating the concerns of the help seekers
  • Exploring if there are other needs that may be present
  • Empowering help seekers with accurate, curated resources
  • Establishing partnerships with community resource providers

 We were excited when we were able to secure grants to assist with the following statewide initiatives:

  • Ride United Vaccine Access (RUVAC) – providing free Lyft rides for individuals seeking transportation to COVID-19 vaccines
  • Ride United Transportation Access (RUTA) – providing free Lyft rides to overcome transportation barriers for needed one-time, or episodic need such as school, work, or appointments
  • Ride United Last-Mile Delivery (RULMD – providing DoorDash courier services for needed essential supplies provided by partner agencies and programs

 We are excited to be growing in response to the needs we learn from our fellow Arkansans and to help provide a guiding light in times of darkness.  If you have questions about Arkansas 211 and the services we provide, please feel free to contact Carlos Garbutt, Director of Arkansas 211 via email, cgarbutt@unitedwaynwa.org.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

 

Carpe Diem Day

The last couple of years have been challenging for many, whether dealing with the pandemic, racial tensions, military actions or threat of military actions, sicknesses, isolation, and so much more.  Sometimes we get so overwhelmed and distracted by all the negative things going on in our lives that we struggle or forget to grab onto the good things going on in our life or the lives of those around us. Self-care is especially important in a sometimes topsy-turvy world.

 February 26 is celebrated each year as Carpe Diem Day.   The phrase ‘carpe diem’ or ‘seize the day’ reminds us to celebrate every joy and opportunity that life has given us and live life to the best of our ability.    We cannot change the past and we cannot predict the future, as no day is guaranteed, so we should focus on making our “today” the best we can make it.

Here are a couple ideas noted on nationaltoday.com for activities that you can do on Carpe Diem Day:

·         Connect with loved ones.  Take the day to make amends with someone, practice positive affirmations, and do kind things for others. Do what you can to connect with your loved ones.

·         Take a few deep breaths.  Concentrate on deep breathing exercises. 

·         Make a bucket list.  Make a bucket list of all the big and small things you want to achieve.      

So take a moment, or several moments, throughout the day to note those things you are grateful for at that moment, smile a little, and “Seize the Day”!

 

Carpe Diem Day information was taken from https://nationaltoday.com/carpe-diem-day/

Monday, December 6, 2021

Opportunity or Opportunism?

AIRS just published a public policy statement entitled, "Opportunity or Opportunism? The Intersection of Public I&R System and Private Software Vendors". It was developed by the AIRS Public Policy Committee and has been provided to the US Administration for Community Living.  This document addresses the issues surrounding the market competition we are facing from private sector "closed loop referral" software vendors who are duplicating resources databases that have been maintained by I&Rs for decades.

The final paragraphs of the document read:

 

“Ultimately, community-based 211s and private sector vendors should partner together with healthcare entities to provide the best of all worlds – highly-developed, relevant resources for healthcare consumers that are maintained by certified database curators, staffed by trained I&R professionals, and have leading-edge software with the capacity and capability to provide and track referrals, and health outcomes. In effect, genuine Community Information Exchanges (such as in San Diego) governed by the community itself.

The Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) encourages relevant Federal, State, and healthcare institutions to foster mutually beneficial partnerships with 211s for SDoH outcomes.”


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

 

Mobility Management!

What in the driving Miss Daisy is mobility management?  Driving Miss Daisy, starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, was directed by Bruce Beresford and released in 1989. This movie came to mind after trying to figure out the best practice needed to effectively serve clients who need transportation assistance. According to the National Center for Mobility Management, mobility management is defined in the following statements.

“In short: Mobility management can be broadly defined as creating and managing mobility options, at both the systemic and system-to-customer levels, to improve the reach, efficiency, and affordability of public transportation services.

A bit longer explanation: Mobility management is an approach to designing and delivering transportation services that starts and ends with the customer. It begins with a community vision in which the entire transportation network—public transit, private operators, cycling and walking, volunteer drivers, and others—works together with customers, planners, and stakeholders to deliver the transportation options that best meet the community's needs.” - https://nationalcenterformobilitymanagement.org/for-mobility-managers/

How does mobility management fit into Information and Referral services?

Referring a client to a senior center in their area to schedule transportation assistance was easy. Referring a client to public transportation or other wheelchair associable providers was not a problem. Providing a client eligibility requirements for a free or reduced fare bus ride on Metro Transit is a walk in the park.  For the most I & R staff the above we can do with our eyes closed.

It was assisting clients with rides directly that brought a level of uncertainty. Scheduling rides using a third party transportation providers dashboard was challenging. Explaining to an older adult who doesn’t own a smart phone that they will receive a text. Even if they have a smart phone trying to talk them through downloading a transportation app and how to access their text messages. For the past 6 months mobility management has felt like a scene from driving Miss Daisy.

If Hoke Colburn, Morgan Freeman’s character was a LYFT driver in the film comes to mind with every request. In one of my favorite scenes Hoke is taking Miss Daisy on a trip, he allows her to give direction from the back seat because she has the map. They get lost and Miss Daisy blames Hoke for the error.

He says to Miss Daisy, “Well, now, you took it (the trip) with me, Miss Daisy, and you got the map.”

I found the following blogs helpful:

Part 1

https://www.nadtc.org/news/blog/transportation-information-and-assistance-an-introduction/

 Part 2

https://www.nadtc.org/news/blog/what-does-information-referral-mean-to-mobility-management/

Article by: Jamie R. Saunders, MSW