Natalie Anderson at OT Plus talks about preventing falls.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Welcome back to the program everyone. I am here with Natalie Anderson from OT Plus, and she’s an occupational therapist and this week we are really privileged to have Natalie on the program because a lot of us have seniors living at home and we worry about you know, when we’re not there, are they going to be okay? And I happen to know a really startling statistic and that statistic says that close to seventy five percent of accidents that happen to seniors happen in their home and that’s pretty alarming. And so we’re going to talk about today fall prevention. So thank you, Natalie for being here. Sure, my pleasure. Natalie, you know, you’re an occupational therapist, which obviously helps a senior with their daily living and a lot of that obviously has to do with prevention as well. Correct, correct, correct, and I think there’s there’s two keys to preventing falls. The first is making sure you maintain your balance and the second is modifying your home. And if you can work on those two keys, those that’s what I look at when I look at a patient, then fall risk decreases. Right people, those are big thing. They’re huge and and when you talk to I remember my mom. She’s have a doily over the back of the toilet, you know, and and you know, throw rugs on the floor and little things like that. And of course, as I started getting educated, I’d say, Mom, we need to pick up this throw rug up, you know, of kitchen floor. Leave my throw rug exactly. First, I think you need to look at your own home. Yeah, and and and make some changes. I if you’ve lived in your home for twenty, thirty years, you feel like you know it like the back of your hand. And so when people come in and start to say you need to make changes, you can. You know, people throw up the hand. It is hard, but if you can look at your home through somebody, through different eyes. So what I tell people is pretend you’re ninety year old aunties come in to stay with you for a week. You’re fine, you don’t have a problem. But you’re going to have your ninety year old auntie come stay with you for a week and you know that she uses a cane and you know that her balance, she’s not as agile. What would you do differently in this home if you’re ninety year old Auntie was going to come stay with you and boil. Boy, do they look at their home with new eyes? Sure, because they can’t see themselves having a problem. No, and you know we all have blind spots, right, but when it’s for somebody else or when they think about a visitor coming, then they do see. Well, I would pick up those newspapers around there will I would do. Okay, okay, what else would you do? You you know. And and isn’t it true that a lot of seniors, older seniors, they have a lot of knick knacks, oftentimes from you know, things that from grandchildren and and a lot of things that you know, a lot of pillows on the couch, a lot of different things like that, maybe a higher pile carpet, something like that. And so you know, to look at that with new eyes and realize that that could be you and it maybe that Mom or Dad get along great right now. But this is all about prevention. It’s about making sure that your environment is totally Um, you know, the most friendly for you as you age and and easy to live. What I say to a lot of my clients is that you’ve had forty years of birthdays and Christmas has where things have come into the house. Yes, nothing has come out. Yeah. So, and the other example that I use I say it’s a real sad day when you’re sitting in a chair and your daughter-in-law is throwing all your treasures in a dumpster and that happens. That’s tragic that that’s happens, because you’re making a transition. I always say, while you have the power, why? You have the ability, you make the decisions. What comes and goes, or someone eventually will make it for you. Yeah, and that’s a real motivator for people absolutely. So I give them control because, like you said, when you come in and tell your mom to do things, is it? You know exactly, doesn’t work exactly. So how do you begin that process with with a parent or, you know, with a family? What would you what is your advice? Well, what I again, what I would say, is most seniors they want to remain in their home as long as they can. There’s and we want the right. It’s a landmark, a RP study. So you’re coming from the same place, right. So giving them the control instead of you need to do this, mom, you need to do that dad. So you start with a conversation. Do you want to stay here forever. Is this your plan? Well, yes, it is. Yeah, okay, what do you what would need to happen for that to happen? Sure you know what what do you what’s not easy for you? What’s not hard? When you moved into this house, you you put the glasses and the plates and the pans where they were. The you know, contractor put our shelves and nothing’s changed. Sure, so it’s involving them in the process. What do you like to do? Right, you know, I don’t cook anymore or I don’t use that bedroom anymore. I mean it’s really asking them and they’ll tell you. Oh, I’m sure they won’t tell you what’s hard or what’s difficult. If and if they say nothing, well then what you do is say, well, if if someone was coming to your home, you go right back and I know your line, but gee, if someone us come into your home, what would you do differently? We are talking to Natalie Anderson from OT Plus in here in the Greater Seattle area. She’s an occupational therapist that helps families basically help the quality of their life of their senior love when she specializes in seniors and really we’re talking today about fall prevention. Natalie, give us what do you notice most in homes that create the biggest obstacles to independence or to create falls? What? What would you say? Or the biggest warning signs, I think, is stuff, stuff, stuff, a lot of stuff, clutter. And yes, that that’s what I see. And then I think that the other dimension that we’re really not talking about. I mean we’re talking about modifying your home, but the second one is maintaining your balance. And I think what you can start noticing in yourself or you notice with your family members, your loved ones, is are they doing less and less physical activity and do they have less mobility? Sure, sure, and you know, you talk about modifications. You know it’s really interesting, and this is just my own experience. I would love to see more consumer awareness about keeping a home aging in place friendly. You know, there really isn’t a lot of consumer information out there. I’ve talked to a lot of contractors here in this area. They do modifications but they don’t really advertise what the differences with the positive parts are. And you know, it’s a really key thing. It’s a key thing that you find a contractor that is certified and that understands ADA compliance and different things like that, and just just because they say, Oh, we’ve built a wheelchair rent before, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re qualified to do your eye right. So obviously, in getting in touch with somebody like Natalie, she can point you in the right direction of the type of business to work with and give you the kind of advice. Is that correct? That that is correct, and what what you want to look for? If you’ve lived in your home for a lot of years and you’re going to remodel the bathroom anyway, yeah, bathroom is you. You’re going to remodel it anyway, even though you think you’re fine. You are fine, you’re active, you might as well remodel with the idea of I’m going to live here forever, I want to age in place and using universal design concepts. Right. So there is it’s called cap certification, certified aging in place specialist. It’s a collaboration between occupational therapists and the building remodel industry. So if you’re looking for a remodeler, looking for one that has that caps designate, nation will at least know that those folks have a heightened awareness right of aging in place. Oftentimes, what will happen, if you say, you know, I let’s put some grab bars in, they’ll throw you know, that’s a start. It’s a start, and they’ll get out the at a book and they’ll put them in. Well, Natalie, only needs to be done for commercial and public places. You want the grab bars in your home or the ramp or the no threshold shower, right, you can design that anyway you want. It doesn’t have to be a TA and sometimes Ata doesn’t yeah, doesn’t work. You know right. If I have seen some beautiful designs in bathrooms. If you go on Pinterest, everyone, oh my gosh, you can see aging in place. I think the tag are the keywords to look up is aging in place bathroom, and you can see so many designs that people have put together that you would never know that this bathroom was universal design. Kitchens, the same thing, where there’s different kinds of designs in kitchens and there’s a lot of different aspects about that whole design process that I think is really, really important in the process. Right and and as the baby boomers age, they’re demanding these certain kind of products. I know that. You know, twenty six, twenty seven years ago and I was for starting in this field. To get a high toilet was a big deal. I know you can go to Home Depot and get a comfort height toilet. It’s yeah, big deal. Yeah. Now every major brand of that’s a grab bars or towel racks, those kinds of things. They make an esthetically pleasing looking accessories for the bathroom. It’s amazing, isn’t right? Right, there’s lots to do and one thing I’m going to bring up that oftentimes is underlooked, and I think that the something that we should definitely talk about is lighting. Seniors tend to want it. I don’t know why. They close their drapes, they tend to honker in and I think that’s part of the vulnerability that they sometimes feel if they’re starting to fail in their homes. But then lighting gets much more critical. Could you address that a little bit now, like I can incredible task lighting for certain things that you’re doing in the kitchen or sitting at your chairs important. You want lighting at night. People, when they age, they go to the bathroom at night. They don’t and then sometimes with aging, you say, they pull the drapes. Bright lights hurt. So there’s a whole whole myriad of things. That we can do. So how do we reach you? So I do a lot of collaboration with a remodels. My name is Natalie Anderson. OTPlus.net is the website. Thank you very much, Natalie, and will have that information on Answers for Elders. Thanks for being here.
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Originally published April 15, 2017