Sound Advice by Ruth Bernstein
I received a very special present on my 89th birthday in August, Ryan Noa, a new great-granddaughter.
Ryan’s arrival reminded me that I have a responsibility to make sure I am around to do my job as great-grandmother and take her and Michaela, my other great-granddaughter, to the Central Park Zoo, the Carousel and, of course, the museums in the city. That means taking good care of myself, which I try to do.
Falling can be a major health factor when you age. In the past nine months, four friends have fallen, broken their hips and other limbs and spent extended time in hospital or at-home rehabilitation. Below are two good resources to learn about fall prevention and the link between falls and hearing loss.
Recognizing that my particular hearing issues have affected my balance, my ENT wrote me a prescription for physical therapy to help me regain my balance. The sessions have been a big help, as have other techniques I've learned to use to prevent falls and alert help if I do fall.
My Tips for Preventing Falls and Alerting Help
Alerting Systems - I wear an Apple Watch which provides SOS service and calls 911 if I fall and don’t respond to their alerts. The watch can also alert family or friends that you have fallen. There are other companies that provide alerting systems you can wear on your wrist or around your neck.
Fall Stop Classes - I go to online Fall Stop classes at the JCC, where I strengthen my body with stretching and weightlifting exercises, learn how to walk on snow and ice and how to fall and get up. Our teacher emphasizes that we should not rush anywhere, because rushing is the biggest cause of falling.
Get Up and Move - If I have been sitting for an hour, my Apple watch alerts me by tapping me on the wrist to remind me to stand up. Before I get up, I stamp my feet four or five times. That gets the blood moving in my feet and legs, which helps me stand up more easily.
Using a Cane - I use a cane if it snows and/or there is ice on the ground. I like a folding cane that fits in a large pocketbook, shopping bag or backpack.
Managing Stairs - I hold the railing going up and down stairs. If necessary, I stop and rest on a landing. Slow and steady is my motto.
Public Transit - I always get off a bus in the front where the driver can see me. I hold on to the door handles and make sure both feet are solidly on the ground before I let go. The drivers appreciate my “thank you” as I exit. On the subway, I will hold onto the door jamb if I feel unsteady getting on or off.
Hearing Care - I see my doctor for an annual physical and have my hearing checked annually or more often if I detect a change in my hearing level. To schedule an appointment with a CHC audiologist, use this online form or call CHC at 917-305-7766. Alternatively, CHC can also recommend an audiologist in your area.
Vision Care - I also have my eyes checked regularly. I want to make sure I can see my environment as clearly as possible because I don’t hear well and need visual clues.
Plan Ahead - Planning ahead when I am going somewhere for the first time can prevent falls. I review my route and transportation needs, use my Apple phone or print maps, if necessary, and leave lots of extra time to find my way.
I’m hopeful these steps will keep me in good shape so I can enjoy my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and all the activities we will participate in together for many years to come.
Let us know how you prevent falls and the alerting systems you use so we can share them with our readers. Thank you!