Falls Are Not A Natural Part Of Aging

This article is part of the #STCPreventionMatters campaign from the University of Maryland Medical Center. For more information about the campaign and the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy, visit: www.umm.edu/PreventionMatters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that every 11 seconds, an older adult goes to an Emergency Department after having a fall. The CDC’s research has also found that on average, an older adult dies every 19 minutes after having difficulty recovering after a fall.

Falls often rob older adults of the ability to lead full and independent lives, but it does not have to be this way. Falls are not a normal part of aging. Healthcare professionals from across the state are working to prevent falls in the community. This month, the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Community Health Outreach Program and the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy are teaming up to offer Stepping On classes in Baltimore City. Stepping On is series of seven weekly workshops designed to teach older adults how to reduce falls by building confidence and improving strength and balance.

Research shows that these workshops successfully reduce falls by 31 percent. All adults over the age of 60 are at an increased risk of falling and should participate in workshops like these.

The Community Health Department at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center (UM SJMC) has successfully held nine series of the Stepping On workshops since the summer of 2015.

Through the program, older adults gain important information about fall risks, including fall dangers in the home, problems with medication, unsafe footwear, and poor vision. In addition to the trained leaders, guest experts from healthcare and community organizations outside the hospital— including physical therapists, pharmacists, representatives from a private shoe company, and the Maryland Society for Sight— deliver important information to help older adults and their caregivers reduce the risk of falls. This allows students to pay closer attention to their individual risks and encourages them to make better decisions to reduce their chances of falling. One student reported that Stepping On “definitely makes you more aware of things not to do.”

Two important parts of the program are the strength and balance exercises. The leaders guide participants through the exercises as a group. One recent student reported that he “feels much stronger since doing the exercises.”

Participants learn the benefits of these exercises and are encouraged to continue these regularly, even after the program ends.

The reviews are overwhelmingly positive for UM SJMC’s Stepping On classes:

-Eighty-nine people have successfully finished the Stepping On program through the UM SJMC.

-Three out of every four people shared that they felt more sure in their ability to get up from a fall after taking the Stepping On classes.

-Four out of five attendees said they had greater confidence in their balance after participating in the program.

-More than half of the students stated they made changes in their home to reduce their risk of falling.

Overall, the Stepping On program has been very popular in Baltimore County. Many of the people who attended the classes at the St. Joseph’s Medical Center reported that the information was valuable and they “became very informed.”

The University of Maryland Medical Center is eager to bring this important and useful resource to Baltimore City.

Erin Selby is a Community Health Specialist at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center located in Towson, Maryland.

Day Of Service Planned For City And State

The Together We Serve initiative brings the Maryland community together to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks with a day of service and action.

The 6th Branch, a nonprofit that utilizes the leadership and organizational skills of military veterans to execute community service initiatives in Baltimore, will participate in service projects that the organization believes will help a rising East Baltimore neighborhood with significant property vacancy.

Located at 1400 Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore City, The 6th Branch volunteers will conduct work benefiting the New Broadway East Community Association.

Sponsored by The 6th Branch, BGE, Constellation Energy, T. Rowe Price, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, McCormick, Legg Mason, Under Armour, Starbucks, PNC, Transamerica and Comcast, projects will range from clearing vacant lots to light demolition, landscaping and improvements to community green spaces.

“The Day to Serve initiative is an excellent opportunity for Marylanders to join together in volunteer efforts, as well as highlight the incredible service and volunteerism that occurs year-round in our state,” said Governor Larry Hogan, who week issued a proclamation declaring September 11 through October 10 as “Day to Serve” month in Maryland.

“Our citizens take great pride in our shorelines and beaches, our communities, and our state, and by working together, we can continue changing Maryland for the better,” Hogan said.

As part of the announcement, Hogan says he is encouraging all Maryland citizens to choose a day to participate in a volunteer activity.

The “Day to Serve” initiative includes Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia, each of which tracks statistics such as number of volunteers, hours served, and pounds of food donated in a friendly competition.

The governor plans to kick off the “Day to Serve” on September 11 at the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) in Baltimore.

Volunteers from the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, state agencies, and the local community will work alongside the homeless veterans who reside at MCVET on various projects to help uplift and revitalize the center.

In an effort to promote responsible stewardship of our environment and keep Maryland’s shorelines and beaches litter-free, the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives is organizing a statewide waterway clean-up event for Maryland’s waterways, which will take place September 14 and September 15.

With events taking place in all 23 Maryland counties and Baltimore City, one great example is an event sponsored by the Kent Island Beach Clean Ups planned for Terrapin Beach on September 15, which is also International Coastal Cleanup Day.

To further promote the spirit of volunteerism, Governor Hogan has once again granted four hours of administrative leave for state employees to participate in a volunteer activity of their choice between September 11 and October 10, this year.

In addition to the many state employees who will be participating as individuals, several agencies plan to organize projects throughout the state to encourage employee participation.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Hogan’s continued support of promoting service and volunteerism throughout the state,” said Steve McAdams, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. “As our office travels to meet with communities around Maryland, we have seen first-hand the incredible impact volunteerism can have by addressing important issues and building lasting bonds.”

Chef Cooks Up Caribbean Delights In New Cookbook

At age nine, Julius Jackson decided he wanted to cook.

“I would stand under my mom or aunts and wait for the food to be ready but I didn’t like being hungry, a pet peeve of mine is having my stomach growl, so I started cooking myself,” said Jackson, now 30 and with a new cookbook, “My Modern Caribbean Kitchen.”

The 176-page book includes 70 original recipes that Jackson says are favorites of his native St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

He has favorites like, “My Mama’s Banana Fritters,” “Granny’s Potato Stuffing,” and “Jackson Clan Red Pea Soup.”

“I was told that I was documenting Virgin Islands history because almost no one put recipes down [on paper] or a book and these are important meals,” he said, adding that, “We cook to survive in the Caribbean, cook to eat.”

A professional boxer, whose father Julius “The Hawk” Jackson is a three-time world champion and boxing hall of famer, Jackson counts as a chef, author, model and actor. He’s appeared on the Telemundo series, “El Cesar,” which is based on the life of the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.

Jackson also serves as head chef and manager of “My Brother’s Workshop Bakery and Café, where he and others turned the shop into a place for where recent hurricane victims could get free hot meals.

“I’ve been talking about a new book, something about surviving the two category five hurricanes … a Hurricane Cookbook,” he said. “After the storm, we worked with the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and some private donors and they brought in some stuff like canned meat, Vienna sausages and we turned them into hot meals for everyone.”

While the new book is in the early planning stages, his first has received a lot of attention. The publishers say that in the exciting collection, Jackson takes the dishes he grew up with and applies his own culinary fair so you can craft home-cooked meals bursting with the distinct spices and tasty ingredients the Caribbean is known for.

Fantastic, tropical favor is easy to achieve— start the day off with Island-Style Farina for a classic Caribbean morning.

No-Mess Curry Chicken is an easy meal that packs a tasty punch, and One-Pot Wonder Chicken and Rice is a crowd pleaser.

Tangy Creole Fish is crisp and fresh, while pan-fried plantains can be enjoyed anytime throughout the day. Infused with Jackson’s experiences of island life, these recipes are the perfect blend of traditional cuisine, unexpected twists and unforgettable favor, according to Amazon.com.

“I’m often asked about my personal favorites. My stewed chicken is a knockout,” Jackson said. “I made that on the Cooking Channel. Another that made the book is Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Fritters, made with calabaza pumpkins, so sweet and savory.”

He says he loves making food that’s “different.”

“I’m always looking for something new to make,” Jackson said.

He credits photographer Jennifer Bloom with helping him with the new book.

“She’s followed my career since the Olympics and she’s also a food photographer. She reached out to me on Twitter and said, ‘hey, you should do a cookbook,’” Jackson said.

And, it’s been a tasty partnership ever since.

“Since I was nine when I fried chicken for my brothers and sisters and I watched them eat it and the smiles on their faces, this is what I knew I wanted to do,” Jackson said.

‘The Common Man’ Celebrates Single Release, Concert in Baltimore

The Common Man Project, a Baltimore-based nonprofit musical group is set to premiere their debut single, “Celebrate the Common Man,” on Friday, Sept. 7.

The release is scheduled to be followed by a community-wide concert experience at Hayfields Country Club on Sept. 8 to raise funds for The Foundery, a Baltimore marker-space with industrial grade tools that allows the city’s creative community a space to gather, learn, build and teach.

“The response to The Common Man Project has been positive so far,” said The Common Man Founder Richard Hinton.

“We have witnessed considerable support for our mission and the underlying message of the Common Man Project. It has been great to partner with The Foundery, as their efforts to support the community through creativity through a makers’ space aligns with ours, to celebrate the common man,” Hinton said.

With the launch of their original music compilation, “Turn Your Ground,” and a series of live performances which Hinton said speak to meaningful civic engagement, self-worth and purposeful living, the project is challenging an American culture increasingly focused on celebrity, spectatorship, and circus.

Through poignant songs which call for social action, a community granting program and partnerships with like-minded organizations including The Foundery, the Common Man Project is dedicated to seeing the country evolve in a more optimistic, thoughtful direction, said Hinton, who founded The Common Man in 2016.

He said the goal reflects the lyrics in “Turn Your Ground.”

“Reach down deep with your own hands and sow a better sound/Not screams of fears or fanatical cheers those are voices of the crowd/but the beauty of your own simple song that need not be so loud.”

The Common Man Project pulls from Hinton’s upbringing in rural, eastern North Carolina coupled with his education at UNC, UVA and Johns Hopkins, and a life of engagement, he said.

“I grew up with a sense of self-worth tempered with humility. A sense that every person is of value and that with hard work and purpose we can all take a seat at life’s table,” he said.

Hinton believes the goal of the group is being realized.

“From our humble beginnings in the studio to moments onstage, we’ve spent hours talking about the importance of our own efforts to each make a difference in society,” he said.

“This dialogue is catching on through our social media pages and with every live performance, as we’re challenging our guests to think about their self-worth, and what they can do to help make our country, and the world, better,” Hinton said.

5 Tips To Aid Performance In The Classroom

— (Family Features) With all the stress of a new school year, it can be difficult for students to readjust to a healthy routine, but many experts agree that sleep is among the most important parts of that routine. Numerous studies demonstrate that children who sleep better learn better.

While you’re busy shopping for pencils, book bags and notebooks, remember that a good night’s sleep should also be at the top of your list this season. Make the transition easier with these five tips from Dr. Sujay Kansagra, director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program and a sleep health consultant for Mattress Firm:

Ease into earlier bedtimes. For many children, the sudden shift to an earlier bedtime and wake-up call can pose a big challenge. Children who were accustomed to falling asleep later at night during the summer will have to slowly adjust their body clocks to move bedtime earlier during the school year. To ease children into the earlier sleep schedule, start moving bedtimes earlier by 10-15 minutes each night until reaching your end goal.

Ensure a comfortable sleeping environment. Pay attention to factors like lighting and noise. It may be necessary, especially early in the school year when the days are still long, to add blackout curtains to help block bright light. If noise is a factor, consider adding some soft background music or a sound machine to serve as a buffer so other noises are less intrusive.

Be sure the bed is up to the task. Another environmental consideration is the bed itself. Mattresses are not always top-of-mind as you consider back-to-school shopping, but when sleep can have such an impact on your child’s educational performance, the right mattress can help ensure students are getting quality zzz’s at the start of a new school year.

Avoid bright light prior to bedtime. Aside from your window, there are also other sources of light that can affect sleep. Several studies have shown that excess screen time just before bed can have a negative impact on the brain’s ability to transition into sleep mode. Try curbing screen time well before bedtime, or if your child must use screens, engage the night-reading feature, which alters the hue of the light for less impact.

Develop a consistent nighttime routine. A routine performed 20-30 minutes prior to bed every night can subconsciously ease children’s brains into sleep. A ritual that involves bathing, brushing teeth, talking about the day’s events, discussing what’s ahead for tomorrow and quiet time with a book are all ways to unwind together and slow down those active minds for a transition toward a peaceful night’s rest.

Remember that sleep is vital for memory retention and cognitive performance. Without it, children may experience behavioral problems and other difficulties in school. Find more resources to help improve your kids’ sleep, including tips on how to purchase a new mattress, at DailyDoze.com.

Caring for Caregivers

(Family Features) While caring for an older family member – whether it be a spouse, parent or grandparent – can be a rewarding experience, it can also be a difficult and overwhelming task. This is especially true if your loved one lives with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia-related illnesses.

Whether it’s out of love or obligation, caring for a chronically ill or disabled family member (and potentially his or her financial and legal interests) can come at the expense of the caregiver’s quality of life. In addition to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle outside of caregiving responsibilities, it is important for those caring for a loved one to learn ways to avoid health hazards and stay well-informed of any changes in their loved one’s condition. Add work and children to care for to the equation and it’s a formula that can lead to stress, exhaustion and even potential health issues.

The additional duties often required to provide care for a loved one can lead to physical or emotional fatigue, often referred to as “caregiver burnout.” If you’re caring for an older adult, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America recommends these tips to help manage stress before caregiving leads to burnout.

Know the signs of burnout. By the time many caregivers suspect signs of burnout, they’re likely already suffering symptoms related to their responsibilities. Being aware of some of the warning signs can help caregivers properly manage stress and protect themselves. Warning signs include:

  • Overwhelming fatigue or lack of energy
  • Experiencing sleep issues
  • Significant changes in eating habits or weight
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Neglecting personal physical and emotional needs
  • Becoming unusually impatient, irritable or argumentative
  • Having anxiety about the future or a feeling of hopelessness
  • Suffering from headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
  • Experiencing depression or mood swings
  • Having difficulty coping with everyday tasks
  • Lower resistance to illnesses

Educate yourself about the disease. It’s likely the loved one you care for has several health problems, takes multiple medications and sees multiple health care providers to manage his or her conditions. As a first step in learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses, visit alzfdn.org or nia.nih.gov/alzheimers for information. Support groups, educational workshops, community resources and professionals can also help increase your understanding of the disease and what to expect so you can be a better-informed and prepared caregiver.

Be prepared for important decisions. Take care of financial, legal and long-term care planning issues early on to help reduce stress later. Try to involve the individual in decision-making if he or she is capable, and consider personal wishes regarding future care and end-of-life issues.

Build your care skills. Key skills for any caregiver include communication, understanding safety considerations and behaviors, and managing activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting and dressing. Some organizations and local hospitals may even offer classes specific to your loved one’s disease that can aid you in the process.

Develop empathy. Try to understand what it is like to be a person living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Put yourself in the affected person’s shoes while also recognizing your own losses. Manage your expectations of your loved one and remain patient.

Ask for help when you need it. Reach out to medical and mental health professionals as well as family and friends. They can assist you when things get tough. In addition, there are typically programs, agencies and organizations in your community that can help manage the challenges of caring for older parents, grandparents, spouses and other older adults.

Advocate for and connect with your loved one. Take an active role in the individual’s medical care. Get to know the care team, ask questions, express concerns and discuss treatment options. Also remember to connect on a personal level through kindness, humor and creativity, which are essential parts of caregiving and can help reduce stress.

Think positive. Focus on the capabilities and strengths that are still intact and enjoy your relationship with your loved one while you are still together. Look for ways to include him or her in your daily routines and gatherings to make as many memories as possible.

Find more caregiver resources and tips at alzfdn.org.

Tips for Managing Caregiver Stress

Stress can affect anyone and caregivers may find themselves faced with additional stressors. To help manage stress and avoid caregiver burnout, keep these tips from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in mind:

  • Maintain a positive attitude
  • Be flexible and accept the circumstances
  • Be honest and open about your feelings
  • Take it one day at a time
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Incorporate stress management techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, as well as exercise into your daily routine
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a healthful diet full of fruits and vegetables
  • Set realistic goals and go slow

Getting Help with Caregiving

Everyone needs a break from time to time, even caregivers. Look into respite programs for a chance to care for yourself. Types of respite include:

Home Care

Home care is often initiated by a doctor’s order or hospital stay and administered by medical professionals who come into the home and help with personal care and housekeeping functions.

Medicare covers some home health services.

Adult Day Programs

Social-model programs offer stimulation, socialization and therapeutic activities in a community-based group setting and often include meals. Medical-model programs (adult day health care programs), offer health-based services as well as social activities in a group setting.

Some programs include assistance with activities of daily living and transportation. Adult day services charge per hour and may be covered under some long-term care insurance policies. Medicaid covers some adult day health programs.

Facility-Based Respite

Provide a short stay for your loved one in a nursing home or another facility. Facilities typically charge for each day your loved one is in their care. Medicare or Medicaid may cover some costs of an inpatient facility.

Family and Friends

Identify responsible family members and friends who can lend a hand in providing supervision for your loved one and create a rotating care schedule, if possible. Enlist the help of family members living in different states by assigning them tasks such as legal or financial paperwork.