Healthy Aging Month

Drawing on the “back to school” urge embedded in everyone from childhood, September is a perfect time to celebrate Healthy Aging Month. Now more than 20 years since it began, it provides inspiration and practical ideas for adults, ages 45-plus, to improve their physical, mental, social, and financial well-being. This blog will focus on the physical elements which in turn will serve to improve upon your emotional wellbeing as well. To maintain as active a lifestyle as possible it is necessary to exercise, eat well, and monitor your health to help maintain your independence. A brief overview of each topic is discussed below followed by two product suggestions from ILA.


 Some people love it, some people hate it, but regardless of your personal feelings, exercise and physical activity are good for you—period. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), exercise and physical activity are considered a cornerstone of almost every healthy aging program. Scientific evidence suggests that people who exercise regularly not only live longer, they live better. And, being physically active—doing everyday activities that keep your body moving, such as gardening, walking the dog, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator—can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age.

Another page on the NIA website provides instructional articles on different types and benefits of exercise. These are just 3 of the  9 highlighted articles that offer advice on how to stay active anywhere and everywhere you go. Find tips on how to fit exercise into your daily life safely and get motivated to get moving!

How to Get Started with Exercise: Being physically active is one of the best things you can do for your health. Get started!

Exercising with Chronic Conditions: Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. Learn how.

Real-Life Benefits of Exercise: Staying active can help your physical and emotional health and mobility.

Highlighted products:

Pedal Exerciser: Enjoy bicycle-type exercise from your chair, or place the unit on a table to exercise your arms. Helps improve circulation and muscle strength. Made of heavy-duty steel with a large knob to adjust for variable resistance. Features comfortable pedal straps to help hold feet in place while in use. Assembles easily.

Tactile/Braille Yoga Mat w/2 Instructional CDs: This Braille and tactile Yoga Mat is designed to enable people who are blind, vision impaired, or who may face physical challenges due to age or disability, to practice yoga safely and confidently.

Eat Well

Consuming the right kind of nutrients is paramount for a healthy body. Nutrition, according to MedlinePlus, is about eating a healthy and balanced diet, so your body gets the nutrients that it needs. Good nutrition is important, no matter what your age. It gives you energy and can help you control your weight. It may also help prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

But as you age, your body and life change, and so does what you need to stay healthy. For example, you may need fewer calories, but you still need to get enough nutrients. Also, some older adults need more protein.

Their top 5 suggestions for eating healthy include; eat foods that give a lot of nutrients with few calories, avoid consuming empty calories, pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat, drink enough liquids, and they circle back around to staying active to help control your appetite.

Highlighted products:

Chefman 3.5L Air Fryer: This air fryer can cook food with a crispy texture, without deep frying. It can cook, bake, roast, and “fry” with an adjustable temperature range of 175° to 400°F. Food cooks quickly and safely in the self-contained cooking basket. It has an easy to use manual temperature control and a 60-minute timer. No worries if you forgot to thaw food out the night before as you can cook straight from frozen with this air fryer. The cooking basket is dishwasher safe.

Zick-Zick Classic Food Chopper: This dishwasher safe 1 cup capacity food chopper is a wonderful tool for chopping onions and other vegetables as needed. The stainless-steel blade rotates as you press down on the top of the chopper. This product is also dishwasher safe.

Monitor Your Health

Harvard Medical School states, even if you have a genetic propensity for heart disease that you have inherited from a parent, lifestyle changes to get your numbers under control can make you less likely to develop heart problems. Adopting lifestyle measures may also lower your odds of getting diabetes and reduce the excess weight that can lead to joint pain, allowing you to lead a more mobile, independent life. To keep your heart disease risks in check, stay on top of these key health indicators:

Waist circumference: Carrying too much extra weight around your middle puts you at increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  To be considered healthy your waist circumference needs to be 35 inches or less and your waist to hip ratio should be .8 or lower (to obtain this ratio divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference).

Body mass index (BMI): BMI is a measure of your weight in proportion to your height. It can indicate how much body fat you have. Being overweight or obese puts strain on your heart and increases your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and other health conditions. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2. To calculate your BMI yourself you can use this calculator. Adobe Flash will need to be on for it to work.

Blood pressure: Having high blood pressure forces your heart to work harder. It increases your risks for heart disease and stroke, as well as for kidney disease and heart failure. You can have high blood pressure and never know it or feel it, so it is important to get tested routinely. A healthy reading is 120/80 mm Hg or less.

Cholesterol: Having high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol may contribute to the formation of fatty plaques in your arteries, which can lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. A healthy total cholesterol number is less than 200 mg/dL, HDL cholesterol greater than 50 mg/DL, and LDL cholesterol less than 130 mg/dL.

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat in the body. Having high triglycerides combined with high LDL cholesterol speeds up the buildup of plaque in the arteries. A healthy number is less than 150 mg/dL.

Blood sugar: High blood sugar is an indicator that your body does not make enough insulin or is not able to properly use insulin, a hormone that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood into the cells. Having high blood sugar over time can damage the blood vessels, nerves, and organs such as the kidneys and eyes. Knowing that your blood sugar is high will let you take steps to lower it, and possibly delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.  What is considered healthy is a fasting blood glucose level of less than 100 mg/dL and an A1C of below 5.7%

Highlighted products:

Talking Bilingual Premium Digital Blood Pressure Arm Monitor: This Healthsmart upper arm bilingual talking blood pressure meter is lightweight and ideal for home and everyday use. The high contrast back lit LCD screen with date and time stamp, visual BP (Blood Pressure) guide, average of last 2 readings, and irregular heartbeat detection are great features on this blood pressure monitor. This meter offers memory for 2 users and it will store up to 120 readings in total. The audio readings can be announced in English or Spanish and it has a convenient volume control.

Talking Scale by Moshi: A scratch-resistant toughened and tempered glass platform is both safe and durable. Simply tap the platform of the scale to turn it on, it will calibrate and then a clear female voice will announce the scale is ready, step on the scale and it will then announce your weight. Once done, this scale will automatically shut off. Scale has a 440 lb. weight limit.

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Falls Prevention Awareness Week: Focus on Steps to Prevent Your Risk of Falling

falls, prevention, signs, focus, steps

Falls Prevention Awareness Week is September 21st through the 25th for 2020. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) states that 1 in 4 Americans age 65+ will fall every year. In fact, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falling is not an inevitable part of aging, however, and there are many things you can do to help prevent this common occurrence from happening to you. This blog will look at identifying your risk factors, lifestyle changes/tweaks that can be done, and a few assistive devices to better help keep you stable and on your feet.

Risk Factors/Twelve Questions

The NCOA provides a checklist that was developed by the Greater Los Angeles VA Geriatric Research Education Clinical Center and affiliates. It is a validated fall risk self-assessment tool. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition

  • Have you fallen in the past year? (People who have fallen once are likely to fall again.) 
  • Do you use or have been advised to use a cane or walker to get around safely? (People who have been advised to use a cane or walker may already be more likely to fall.)
  • Are you sometimes unsteady when walking? (Unsteadiness or needing support while walking are signs of poor balance.)
  • Do you steady yourself by holding onto furniture at home? (This is also a sign of poor balance.)
  • Are you worried about falling? (People who are worried about falling are more likely to fall.)
  • Do you need to push with your hands to stand up from a chair? (This is a sign of weak leg muscles, a major reason for falling.)
  • Do you have trouble stepping up onto a curb? (This is also a sign of weak leg muscles.)
  • Do you often have to rush to the bathroom? (Rushing to the bathroom, especially at night, increases your chance of falling.)
  • Have you lost any feeling in your feet? (Numbness in your feet can cause stumbles and lead to falls.)
  • Do you take medicine that sometimes makes you feel light-headed or more tired than usual? (Side effects from medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling.)
  • Do you take medicine to help you sleep or improve your mood? (These medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling.)
  • Do you often feel sad or depressed? (Symptoms of depression, such as not feeling well or feeling slowed down, are linked to falls.)

Lifestyle/Household Changes

The Mayo Clinic and National Institute on Aging offer advice on helping to prevent falls. The following are lifestyle and/or household changes that can easily be made to decrease your chance of falling:

  • Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention. With your doctor’s OK, consider activities such as walking, water workouts or tai chi. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility. There are numerous free exercise videos readily available online including the National Institute of Aging on YouTube, the Silver Sneakers Facebook page and  HASfit on YouTube (which caters to all physical abilities).
  • Have your eyes and hearing tested. Even small changes in sight and hearing may cause you to fall. When you get new eyeglasses or contact lenses, take time to get used to them. Always wear your glasses or contacts when you need them. If you have a hearing aid, be sure it fits well and wear it.
  • Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Get enough sleep. If you are sleepy, you are more likely to fall.
  • Wear sensible shoes. Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall-prevention plan. High heels, floppy slippers, and shoes with slick soles can make you slip, stumble, and fall. So can walking in your stocking feet. Instead, wear properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles. Sensible shoes may also reduce joint pain. (Great Senior Living provides a comprehensive article on finding the best shoes along with recommendations for brands and styles).
  • Remove hazards/clutter. Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways, and stairways may be filled with hazards. To make your home safer: remove boxes, newspapers, electrical cords and phone cords from walkway, move coffee tables, magazine racks, and plant stands from high-traffic areas, secure loose rugs with double-faced tape, tacks or a slip-resistant backing — or remove loose rugs from your home, repair loose, wooden floorboards and carpeting right away, store clothing, dishes, food and other necessities within easy reach, immediately clean spilled liquids, grease or food, and use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.
  • Light up your living space. Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. The following are just a few suggestions on how to accomplish this: Place night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways. Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs. Make clear paths to light switches that aren’t near room entrances. Consider trading traditional switches for glow-in-the-dark or illuminated switches. Turn on the lights before going up or down stairs. Store flashlights in easy-to-find places in case of power outages.

Assistive Devices

If you feel unsteady or feel more confident holding onto something that supports part of your body weight, then it might be time to investigate an assistive device. Appropriate use of canes and walkers can prevent falls. If your doctor tells you to use a cane or walker, make sure it is the right size for you and the wheels roll smoothly. This is important when you are walking in areas you do not know well or where the walkways are uneven. A physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which devices might be helpful and teach you how to use them safely. ILA offers many different assistive devices that can help you or a loved one prevent falls. A few of these include:

HurryCane – Freedom Edition: The extremely popular HurryCane® has been redesigned to give you more support and confidence with every step you take. It is now 40% stronger and 20% lighter. This cane, with its comfort-fit handle, folds down for easy storage and folds out instantly when ready to use. The SteadiGrip™ base allows you further confidence and the smooth pivoting base enables even greater ease of movement and stability. The cane height is also easily adjusted from shorter to taller and back as needed. Now available in 4 different colors, pathfinder purple, roadrunner red, trailblazer blue, or original black. Please specify. (For more cane options see ILA-Canes)

Deluxe Folding Walker, Two Button with Wheels: Walk with confidence with this sturdy, deluxe folding walker that features 5″ wheels on the front supports and 1″ diameter anodized, extruded aluminum construction throughout. This ensures maximum strength while remaining lightweight. Fold the walker by pushing just two buttons. Buttons can be pushed with fingers, palms, or sides of hand. Regain your independence with this terrific walker. (For more walker options see ILA-Walkers)

The Bed Step: Constructed of durable, splinter-free plywood coated with lacquer. Designed to make getting in and out of bed easier. The two steps are 4″ and 8″ high, 12″ deep by 24″ wide. Steps are covered with foot-friendly carpet. The side panel can be placed on either side of the steps providing extra security. An additional optional side panel is available. This is ideal for those with mobility and/or balance problems. Weight capacity: 400 lbs. Some assembly required.

Ice Treads : Navigate the winter months with more confidence when wearing these ice treads which stretch easily over an existing pair of shoes. The lightweight and heavy-duty tread has five stainless steel spikes. The spikes make trudging through snow and navigating icy patches more secure during your travels. These treads fold compactly into a resealable vinyl bag so that you always have them at the ready. Women’s Treads fits sizes 5 to 10. Men’s Ice Treads fits sizes 6 to 11.

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Communicating More Clearly With Hearing Loss Through Amplified Phones, HAC Phones and Apps

Being able to hear on the phone can be challenging for anyone, especially if there is a lot of background noise interfering with the connection. For those living with a hearing loss, certain products, such as phone amplification devices and smartphone apps can enable clearer understanding even when faced with annoying background noise or static. This blog will look at amplified phones, hearing aid compatible phones, and smartphone apps to assist with hearing loss.

Amplified Phones

The website for Healthy Hearing states, amplified phones are specifically designed for people with hearing loss, allowing you to turn up the volume as necessary to hear speech clearly. Most people who use amplified phones don’t use hearing aids yet, but people with hearing aids can certainly use them, as well. These phones can be used to amplify both landline and cellphones depending on the model.

Extra features on an amplified phone may include caller ID, large number keys, a speaker phone, capability to work with a headset, photo dialing, backlit keypads, answering machine or wall mounts, and some can even give you special alerts to let you know the phone was not hung up correctly.

Loud ringers are especially important for these type phones. Many amplified phones have settings that allow you to turn up the volume on the ringer so that you never miss an important call again. Some models will even have a visual indicator, like a flashing light, so you can see when you are receiving an incoming call. Some phones have the capability of ringing up to five times louder than a traditional telephone.

If you have a hearing aid with a telecoil there are also phones available that with just a flip of a switch allows the sound from the phone to be amplified within the hearing aid itself blocking out any unwanted background noise. For moderate to severe hearing loss look for a device that increases sound up to 40 decibels, such as this Clarity Bluetooth Enabled Amplified Cordless Phone. If you have mild to moderate hearing loss then devices that increase sound up to 30 decibels will suffice.

Finally, there is the option of having a portable phone amplifier that can travel with you. These phones can amplify calls from any landline (or compatible cellphone) no matter where you go allowing you to make any regular phone compatible for your personal hearing loss.

Hearing Aid Compatible Phones

Healthy Hearing also has an article concerning hearing aid compatible phones and states, a hearing aid compatible phone makes it easier to stay in touch with family and friends. But finding the best phone for you depends on several factors.

If you have mild or moderate hearing loss you probably don’t need to do anything special to use your hearing aids with a phone, thanks to technology known as “acoustic coupling.” In simple terms, this phrase means you use the phone as normal, and your hearing aid microphone will automatically pick up the sound coming from the phone.

When shopping for a phone, look for what’s known as the M rating for hearing aid compatibility. The M rating ranges from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best compatibility. A higher rating means less distracting noise and feedback coming in, but some unwanted noise is still possible. M3 is perhaps the most common rating–all iPhones currently on the market are rated this at this range, for example.

If you have more severe hearing loss (or want a really clear signal) you will want to make sure the “telecoil” in your hearing aid is turned on. Telecoils direct sound to the hearing aid’s processor without using the microphone. It can improve the signal-to-noise ratio while eliminating the potential for feedback. Your telecoil may automatically switch on or it may require you to manually switch into the telecoil or “T” mode. If you plan to use the telecoil feature, look for what’s known as the T rating for hearing aid compatibility. The T rating also ranges from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best. Many cell phones today are T4.

If you would like to use the Bluetooth feature on certain phones it is important to ensure your hearing aid is compatible with using it. (If you want to learn more about Bluetooth and hearing aids see this article.) The HearAll Cellphone Amplifier or the Bluetooth T-Coil Headset for Cell Phones are great options if you want to use Bluetooth technology with t-coil assistance.

Smartphone Apps to Assist with Hearing Loss

Smartphones are everywhere and new apps are being developed all the time. Here are a few examples of apps currently available to assist those persons with hearing loss be able to communicate more easily.

ClearCaptions:  U.S. residents with professionally certified hearing loss are qualified for ClearCaptions equipment, service and support at no cost to them. ClearCaptions works much like closed captions on your TV. You can hear AND read what’s being said, making it easy and frustration-free to use the phone. Once certified you’ll be given your own personal ClearCaptions phone number that you can then give out to friends and family of your choosing. There is no need to change your phone number, instead you can just forward the ClearCaptions number to your regular phone number. This service is available for both landlines and for mobile apple products with an IOS of 12.0 and up.

Rogervoice: Unlike ClearCaptions, this option is available on both Android and IOS based systems and you set the application up yourself. There are three pricing plans including a free base option between users. Rogervoice subtitles phone and video conversations in real time—in more than 100 languages. During a call, you can hold your phone in front of you to read the conversation’s transcribed text and can reply by talking or typing. The app also saves call transcriptions, a feature that’s particularly useful for business calls and notetaking.

Tunity: Tunity developed the first mobile application of its kind which allows users to hear live audio from muted televisions. Through a patented deep learning and computer vision technology, Tunity identifies a live video stream and its exact timing, syncing the audio with the user’s mobile device. Tunity is used by people at bars, restaurants, gyms, universities, doctor’s offices, airports and even at home to enjoy listening to TVs from their mobile devices.

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Celebrate Labor Day

It will soon be the first Monday in September which means that it is also Labor Day. Generally, when you think about this holiday it comes with visions of family get-togethers, cooking out (or in), and for many a paid day off from work. This blog will look at a brief history about Labor Day followed by inside grilling tips for the visually impaired, as well as, some entertainment ideas to do this Labor Day (or any day).

A Brief History About Labor Day

According to History, in the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

Labor Day, pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day weekend also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans. 

Inside Grilling Tips for the Visually Impaired

Cooking while blind or visually impaired can be challenging but with the right tools can become both routine and rewarding. In addition to the tools listed in this section other sites to find ideas, tips and tricks include Perkins School for the Blind, VisionAware, and wikiHow.

George Foreman Grill: The George Foreman Grill features a non-stick surface for cooking burgers, pork chops, and virtually any food fast and evenly. The simplicity of the design makes it an excellent cooking aid for visually impaired users. Cooking for yourself is easy with few hassles and pans. Grease will cook off the food and drip into a tray below for a healthier meal.

Talking Digital Cooking & All-Purpose Thermometer: This is a serious measurement tool that reads temperature with extreme speed and speaks the reading at the touch of its single, large button. Suitable for the sight impaired with partial or full vision loss. Simply push the “Talk” button to tell the temperature. Press it again and again to update the status of changing temperatures. The ThermoWorks Talking Thermometer is a tremendous aid in food preparation and general household use with even scientific and industrial applications.

17″ Flame Retardant Oven Mitt: 17-inch elbow length fire retardant mitt offers maximum protection. Protect up to 425 degrees F. Can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.

Norpro GRIP-EZ 12 Inch Locking Spatula/Tongs Combo: Two tools in one, you can use the 12″ GRIP-EZ as tongs when you are gripping and lifting food and as a spatula when you are flipping and serving food. So convenient! The unit features a stainless steel frame with a nylon head that is heat resistant to 450°F/230°C. Simply push down to open and pull up to close. Dishwasher safe.

Entertainment Ideas

Labor Day is generally a fairly hot day temperature wise so persons who may be adversely affected by the heat will be wanting some fun activities to do inside. The following ideas are geared towards the blind or visually impaired but can be enjoyed by most anyone.

Board Games:  In addition to traditional card games, there are many different types of games that have been adapted or created solely for the visually impaired.  A few of these games include Tactile Connect Four, Rummikub the Original with Braille, and Jumbo Braille Dominoes.

Movies/TV Shows: The 2020 Guide to Watching TV and Movies with Vision Loss (beginning link) provides a detailed list of options currently available including links for audio descriptions provided by Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.

Video Games: The National Library Service for the Blind (NLS) has put together a page of resources to assist the visually impaired gamer locate information needed to continue enjoying a plethora of video games. Resources include everything from Apple games, PC games all the way to game box controllers including PlayStation and Xbox games.

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