Preventing Falls – New Tools and Resources

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There are new tools to help you avoid falls.

Now that it is fall, let’s talk about falls. September 22 (or the first official day of fall each year) is national Falls Prevention Awareness Day. This year we have some new resources to learn about and to celebrate.

Every year very unintended falls, those slips that come out of nowhere, lead to deaths, fractures, hospitalizations, and need for assistive devices. In addition, fear of another fall leads to changes in day-to-day activities. One ‘little oops’ can take someone from doing all they want to do to needing assistance and having restrictions. No one wants that.

Falls Risk Factors

Besides snow, ice, and rickety steps there are so many things that can increase your risk for falling. Below are a few.

Medications

  • Those that make you sleepy
  • Those that relax you or change your mood
  • Those that make your blood pressure drop too low or too suddenly
  • Those that make your blood sugar dip too low
  • Many pain medicines
  • Any medicine that makes your mouth and eyes really dry
  • Most of the over-the-counter sleep aids

Medical conditions

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Anything that makes your legs hurt
  • Pain in general
  • Obesity
  • Incontinence

In your home

  • Rugs
  • Cords
  • Pets that get under your feet
  • Steps

Other

  • Vision problems or glasses that don’t fit or aren’t the right prescription
  • Hearing problems
  • Using a cane, crutches, or walker in the wrong way

Wow, and this is just a partial list!

New Falls Prevention Resources

That is why I am so excited to tell you about some new resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They released last summer the Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries (STEADI) toolkit. The toolkit can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/steadi/patient.html. You can find a checklist for your home. This will help you identify and fix any risks you might not have known about. There is a checklist to complete before you go to the doctor. It will help your doctor determine how much fall risk you have. The specific resources in the toolkit I encourage you to pull up are:

  • Stay Independent questionnaire
  • What Can You do to Prevent Falls brochure
  • Check for Safety home assessment guide

The STEADI toolkit has now been joined by a new toolkit that focuses more on the role of medications, medical conditions, and your physical function. This toolkit is the result of a collaboration between the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and the National Council on Aging. This ASCP/NCOA resource was announced on National Falls Prevention Day. It will be first unveiled in a webinar for pharmacists on October 18. You can learn more at the ASCP website.

Also, on the 2016 National Falls Prevention Day, the CDC has released new statistics about the realities of falls in the US. You can learn more here.

Let us provide a comprehensive assessment of your falls risks today! Your preventative steps today can keep you active in the future. You can contact us at www.medsmash.com/contact.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

Falling, especially after age 50 can change the course of the rest of your life. No wonder so much effort is put into preventing these falls.

What about falling away from what we’re called to do as Christians? Have you ever done something so terrible you feel like life will never be the same? Have you gotten caught up in activities that you later realize are not what God would want you to do? How far away did you fall?

How did you feel when you realized you had fallen away?

It’s often a big life event that reminds us that we fell away from God. Sometimes it’s an illness or birth of a child or death of a loved one. Sometimes it’s loss of a job or the end of a marriage.

How do you know if you have fallen too far? Could you fall so far that there is no return to God?

Ephesians 2:1-6 MSG

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

Amazing news! You are saved through amazing grace! There is absolutely nothing you can do that can separate you from God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 8:38-39 ESV

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So, you can fall and hurt your body in a way that can’t always be fixed. But, if you decide to come back, you CAN NOT fall so far away from God that you can’t return. We are so blessed! God is so good!

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Is It Real?

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There are growing resources, help, and hope for those with PTSD.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is finally becoming a topic that is discussed – in public. It finally has ‘a voice’ and several avenues of treatment to address it.

I was fortunate to serve about seven years of my career in the Veterans Affairs system. I worked alongside some of the best, most caring providers and the most robust interprofessional teams. These teams consisted of physicians (geriatricians who focus on people over 65, in my case), nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and every level of trainee – students, residents, and fellows. Together we provided care to aging adults in the clinic, the acute care hospital, the intermediate unit, long-term-care (nursing home), and the domiciliary. The ‘dom’ was long term, independent housing for veterans who did not have a family to live with after the war.

I am thankful for every veteran that has served our country in one of the countless ways our uniformed services care for this country every day. The stories I heard during those years were enlightening, empowering, endearing, and sometimes gut wrenching. I have heard others say this: In my experience, those who talked the least about their service saw the most ‘action’ and devastation.

One day I was in clinic with a student. It was a very normal day. As the pharmacist, my visits mostly pertained to medications – why, how, when they are taken and the result. On this day, during a normal pharmacy clinic visit, one of our veterans told his story. It forever changed my life. Here is a paraphrase. I will leave out the specific war, because the story could fit any of them.

“I was assigned the night guard shift for my platoon. It was my duty to walk around the perimeter of the base to look for anyone (of the enemy) who might try to attack at night. It was typically uneventful. One night, as I rounded a corner, I was face-to-face with a man from the ‘other side.’ In a split second I thought about my family – my wife and children. I thought about how I just want to go home to them. I thought I don’t know this man. I don’t hate this man. He probably has a wife and children waiting for him at home, too. We might even be friends in other circumstances.’

We all sat and cried for a long time.

After this event, this man, this veteran had a mental breakdown. He was sent to an island where soldiers not able to function in combat were stationed during that war. While there he started trying to stop reliving the event through alcohol. When he finally got home to his wife and children, he was an alcoholic. He had posttraumatic stress disorder. But, it wasn’t recognized, diagnosed, and treated as it is now. I certainly don’t know all of the details, but he and his family were not able to reunite and stay together. It broke my heart to see what had happened. I wonder if his wife and children ever knew what happened? I wonder if knowing could have changed the outcome for their family. No doubt he would be forever changed after an experience like that.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a condition where there is stress and symptoms for more than three months after a trauma or highly stressful event (or series of events). The stress and symptoms disrupt regular daily activities and are distressing. PTSD can result from war (as in the example above), natural disasters, sexual or physical assault, horror, accidents, or other terrifying event. PTSD can present in about four different ways.

  1. Reliving the event – nightmares, flashbacks, triggers
  2. Avoiding any reminders of the event – driving if in a car crash; crowds if they cause insecurity; fireworks if associated with gunfire; movies related to the event
  3. Negative feelings or changes in feelings about the world and the future; suppressing or forgetting parts of the event
  4. Feeling keyed up (hyperarousal) – easily startled, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating

Treatment has multiple components. Understanding PTSD is an important step. Counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy can help. In cognitive behavioral therapy, people can become aware of thoughts and feelings, and that allows them to be processed and better understood. Then skills to face those feelings and make changes in a way that allows them to have less impact are developed. For each person, this process is different. There are highly trained, experienced therapists who will work with each personal individually.

For medication treatment, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are most commonly used. These are medications that are also commonly used to treat depression and anxiety. They are unlikely to resolve symptoms alone. They are an important part of the multiple components of treatment.

Other components might be exposure therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and more.

A recommended site to learn more about PTSD is through the VA.

Again, there is a growing number of resources available to anyone who might be experiencing PTSD. If you or someone you know might have PTSD, please seek help right away. To suffer alone is not the answer. Alcohol, drugs, and suicide are not the answer. Help is available!

For more information about PTSD, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

PTSD is a real disorder. It is estimated about 3.5% of adults in the US have PTSD. Over 9% of people ages 50-65 have now or have experienced PTSD.

It can be hard to think rationally when suffering from PTSD. The terror, stress, and anxiety can keep the brain in ‘fight or flight’ mode. When in this mode, reflection, perspective, and problem-solving functions are very limited.

So, how can you support someone suffering from PTSD? Understanding the disorder and being a source of compassion and love are good places to start.

No platitude or Bible verse makes PTSD go away. Some Christian leaders have implied PTSD is something that can be chosen or can be avoided with a focus on God. I strongly disagree. Sinful people can hurt, traumatize, and destroy other people. Even people who know and love God can be traumatized.

But as people of God, we can support people who have suffered. If you have PTSD, know you are not alone. If you know someone who has (or you suspect may have) PTSD, approach with God’s unconditional love. Support through the many stages and steps of recovery and learning to cope. PTSD doesn’t just go away at some point; it might take a lifetime of coping and skill building to live in spite of past trauma.

There are many stories of violence, war, and crimes in the Bible.

These are followed by God’s restorative grace and mercy.

There are many verses about love, strength, deliverance, and rest for our soul.

In time, with treatment and a strong support network, these conversations can be had.

Until then, in the more acute phases when the brain is so busy with ‘fight or flight’ mode, prayer, presence, and unconditional love are ways you can start the story of grace.

Be on the lookout for people who may have PTSD who are not yet receiving treatment. Pray for the many people in our world who are PTSD victims. Love and care for those with PTSD in your life.

1 John 4:11-12 The Message (MSG)

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

Blessings,

Michelle