Fall Prevention Tips and Products From ILA

Falls happen for all kinds of reasons. Some people have balance or strength issues. For others, low vision may play a part. Or the environment may be more perilous than necessary. Because falls can cause complications beyond just a little bruising, it’s important to put policies and practices in place to prevent them.

Fall Prevention

Let’s start with some personal tips and suggestions.  Sometimes your health makes you a more of a fall risk than your environment.  Evaluate the medicines you are taking and notice if any of them make you at risk for dizziness, blurred vision, or sleepiness. All of these things can make you more likely to fall.

Being out of shape physically also makes you more likely to fall. Doing activities that promote strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance will make falling less of a risk.  Of course, moving carefully and deliberately is also important. If you are overly active and move quickly and carelessly, you will be more likely to get thrown off balance.

Environmental Changes

Look around your environment. Is it clear from clutter? Is everything easily accessible?  Remove the extra stuff from your floors and walkways. Put away boxes, cords, or rugs that could trip you. Make sure your furniture is stable and won’t tip or fall if you lean against it. Sharp corners should be covered or turned away from areas where you might fall into them.

Put stabilizing equipment in your bathroom. Install grab bars near the toilet and bath or shower.  Use non-slip rugs in areas where you will be standing while wet. Rails in the hallways or along stairs are also good for providing extra support. Making sure that all of these areas are well lit will also help you navigate your environment safely.

Wear clothing that fits well. Clothes that are too loose or too long can get caught on things or stepped on.  You don’t want to trip on a pair of pants just because you haven’t gotten around to having them hemmed. And socks can be slippery on hard floors. Choose to use socks with rubber grips on the bottom, or just get a pair of house slippers.

Equipment and Supports

If you need extra supports for walking or standing. then you can try a piece of equipment like the SafetySure Stand Ease. The Stand Ease’s adjustable arms give you extra stability when standing up or sitting down. It’s also mobile, so that you can use it anywhere in your home, or even at a friend’s house.

When the weather cold and your sidewalks get slick, add some extra tread to your shoes with something like our stainless steel Ice Treads.  Ice treads stretch to fit around almost any shoe, and they provide traction in the snow and ice.

And for more constant assistance, you may want to consider using a cane or walker. Our Easy Twin Grip Support Cane pulls double duty. It has two handles. One for when you have it folded out as a cane and another below that for you to use to push yourself up from a seated position.

 

ILA carries a variety of walkers and canes. Check out our selection here and take action to prevent falls.

 

Microwave Ovens: A Low Vision Cooking Aid

There are lots of ways to stay independent in the kitchen when you have low vision.  Using safe cooking techniques and no mess, uncomplicated ways to cook, such as the microwave, gives you the freedom to prepare more meals than you might think possible.

Safe Cooking Techniques

Avoiding burns is a primary concern when working in a kitchen. If you have low vision, it’s important to reduce the chance accidentally of touching or coming in contact with hot surfaces by adjusting your environment. Roll up your sleeves to keep them from dangling over hot burners. Put pots and pans on the burner before turning it on and then wait until it is turned off before removing them. Pull oven racks out to help you get to your food. Reaching into the oven can be dangerous.

Cuts are another potential hazard. When possible, use vegetable peelers instead of knives.  If you have to cut or chop, use cutting boards that contrast with your foods. Light foods can go on dark boards and dark foods on light boards. This will help you be able to tell where the item is. Don’t touch your knife to find the cutting edge. Place it on the cutting board surface and try to rock it back and forth. The cutting edge should rock while the blunt edge should feel completely straight.

Using Tactile and Talking Microwaves

Eliminate most of your burn risk and much of your prep mess by using microwaves. There are a couple of different options for adapting this kitchen appliance.

Some microwaves come with tactile buttons already built in. Our stainless steel microwave with tactile buttons has buttons with their own distinct markings. These include Pizza, Potato, Frozen Dinner, and Reheat. Tactile symbols also mark buttons for Power Level, Timer, Cook, and Reset, among others.

If you already have a microwave you love, and you want to save a little money by doing your own modifications, you can buy tactile overlay stickers for just a few dollars. These stickers come in shapes that represent food types as well as common function symbols, such as a sideways triangle for the “start” button.

If you need even more support, a talking microwave might be exactly what you want. Our Magic Chef microwave has been designed to speak the function of each button when you give it a quick push. No more guessing or trying to identify shapes.

Adapting Recipes for The Microwave

If you are afraid that avoiding the stove or oven means you’ll miss out on some of your favorite dishes, you might be surprised to find out what you can make in a microwave.  A quick Google search of “microwave cooking recipes” will return a lot of results for tasty, elegant meals.

If you are looking for a specific adaptation, try searching the name of your favorite dish with “in the microwave” added as a search term.  Some reputable sites that have tried and tested recipes include:

 

ILA has a variety of aids to help you live an active, independent lifestyle. For more low vision cooking aids, check out our Cooking Items here.

Healthy Aging: Stay Strong Through Exercise, Attitude, Nutrition, and Health

Aging is an unstoppable force. No one can turn back time. But what we can do is soften the effects of aging by staying healthy through a combination of things. The collective process of focusing on exercise, attitude, nutrition, and general health should position you to enjoy your senior years through optimal health.

Exercise

The word “exercise” may conjure up images of TV aerobics classes or athletes sweating at the gym. However, exercise comes in many forms. But you don’t have to have a completely structured workout regimen to get your exercise.

For older adults, most exercise comes in the form of just staying active. Walking and stair climbing is a popular form of exercise that can be done with friends on a casual schedule. Gardening and doing yard work can also count as exercise.

According to the surgeon general, exercise helps older adults maintain their ability to live independently. It reduces fracture risk, as well as the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes. Another underappreciated benefit is that exercise reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Attitude

Several psychological studies on aging and attitude have shown a strong correlation between positive attitudes toward aging and better health. Older adults that had positive attitudes were also less frail.

In case you might think that their attitudes were better because they were in better health, one of the studies made sure to follow the participants for a few years to see if there were any changes in health and attitude over time.

Even after medications and life circumstances were controlled for, the adults with negative attitudes had slower walking speed and worse cognitive abilities two years later than their positive-thinking counterparts.

Nutrition

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) agrees that one of the best things you can do to maintain your health as you age is to eat healthily. Eating healthily helps manage your weight and ensures that you get proper nutrition.

There are a number of things that can make it harder to get proper nutrition when you are older. Some people are worried about being on a fixed income and hesitate to spend their money on food. Others may have physical problems that make eating more difficult, such as dentures, acid reflux, or medications that suppress appetite.

Fortunately, the NIA has put together a page of blog posts to address some of the most common questions about eating healthy as a senior adult. Almost any barrier you might face should be addressed there.

General Health

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” There’s a lot of truth to this saying when it comes to preventative health care. Older adults sometimes resist going to the doctor unless they are sick or in crises. (Some younger adults do this, too.)

Their concerns may be financial, or maybe they have a lack of transportation. Others just grew up in a culture where you didn’t see a doctor for well checks.

No matter what the reason, this is not the best approach to aging well. Being proactive about going to the doctor to get regular tests and monitorings can prevent you from developing a serious health condition. Whether it’s something like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, many conditions can be managed better if they are caught early. Waiting until you are symptomatic can make your overall health or recovery process a lot worse.

ILA brings you products to help you maintain an active, independent, life. Check out our full selection here.

How to Walk with Someone Who is Blind: Helpful Tips

If you are blind, you are used to getting around on your own. You have your preferences and your strategies. You may have a service animal, cane, or other mobility devices that help you detect obstacles. Chances are, you’ve got the situation down pat.

But sometimes when you offer to take a walk with your friends or family, they may seem unsure of how to behave. Do they offer support? Do they not offer support? Are they supposed to walk behind or in front? This article will help you share some of the best things to do when walking with someone who is blind. You can tell them which of these tips work best for you.

Ok, friends and family. The rest of this article is for you.

Communication Tips

Ask before you assist. Not everyone who is blind needs help navigating their environment. That said, it’s possible that anyone could need help from time to time. If it appears someone who is blind is facing a bit of an obstacle, offering to help (in a respectful way) is fine. If the person declines your assistance, then just accept that with a pleasant “ok.”

If you think your walking companion might appreciate you describing the scenery, once again, ask before you jump right into a full narrative account. Some people find it interesting while others find it annoying. Just like some people prefer small talk while others don’t mind sitting in silence, people who are blind may find the extra conversation either enriching or distracting.

If you need to give verbal directions, keep in mind that the person you are speaking to is blind. Don’t say, “You’ll need to stop in just a little bit.” Or, “Our restaurant is over there.” Be specific and use exact descriptions. “The museum is three blocks up and on the left.”

Basic Guiding

Assuming your friend has indicated they need some help, what is the best way to guide them? Being overprotective and overly hands-on is annoying. Don’t grab a blind person’s arm. They will most likely want to be the one holding your arm, just above the elbow. Help them find you by touching their arm or hand and then allowing them to reach out to you.

Remember, you’re going to lead, but not by much. You should start the walk forward, but not too quickly. Your friend will want to stay about a half a step behind you and slightly to the right or left. Occasionally check to make sure you’re not walking to fast. And be aware of obstacles on the side that your friend is on.

If you need to switch sides or walk single file through a narrow space, first verbally alert the person who is blind, then stop walking. Take a moment to adjust your positioning. If you need to go through a narrow space, you can put your guiding elbow farther behind your back and walk directly in front of your friend. If you need to switch sides, first cross in front of your companion. Then assist them in finding your opposite elbow before beginning to walk again.

Obstacle Navigation

When navigating obstacles, use your words. Don’t snatch your friend out of harm’s way like you’re in a dramatic movie scene. Be alert enough to notice obstacles in advance and verbally warn them about what’s coming up. If there’s an emergency, like a speeding car, shouting “Stop!” should be sufficient for getting their attention.

Take extra precautions when going through doors, up and down curbs or stairs, or around rough terrain. A verbal description of the area is usually sufficient, but sometimes you may have to stop and allow them to reorient to the environment before moving forward again.

When helping a blind person get into an unfamiliar car, it can help to reach inside and put your arm on the roof. This gives them something to hold onto and feel so they can judge the size and avoid hitting their head. But you should let them close their own door.

These are just a few tips on how to walk with someone who is blind. Every person is going to have their personal preferences. What’s most important is that you communicate well and let your friend decide what kind of help is best for them.

If you use a cane or a guide dog and want a little more help with detecting obstacles, ILA has a variety of products, like the BuzzClip Mobility Guide, that can give you a better sense of the space you’re in.