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Open Enrollment Editorial

Medicare’s open enrollment is October 15 – December 7.

Why open enrollment for Medicare is important to you.

Let AgeSmart Community Resources help you find your way through the ever-changing world of Medicare Open Enrollment. Beginning on October 15 all people with Medicare may change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year to better meet their needs. Information for next year’s Medicare plans will be available in early October.

AgeSmart’s trained Senior Health Insurance Counselors can help you make an educated decision about your coverage. Our goal is to help simplify the process and make sure you have the insurance and prescription plan to suit your needs. We will meet with you one-on-one, review your current plan, and based on the information you provide, share options that may better serve your individual situation. To schedule an appointment at our O’Fallon, IL office, or find a location convenient to you, please call AgeSmart Community Resources at 618-222-2561. This service is free of charge.

AgeSmart Community Resources, your local Area Agency on Aging, serves Madison, St. Clair, Bond,  Clinton, Monroe, Randolph and Washington counties. Our mission is to give older adults the opportunity to help them maintain their health and independence and to live well.  For more information about AgeSmart Community Resources visit www.AgeSmart.org.

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Fall Prevention: Simple tips to prevent falls

Falls put you at risk of serious injury. Prevent falls with these simple fall-prevention measures, from reviewing your medications to hazard-proofing your home.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Fall prevention may not seem like a lively topic, but it’s important. As you get older, physical changes and health conditions — and sometimes the medications used to treat those conditions — make falls more likely. In fact, falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. Still, fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Instead, consider six simple fall-prevention strategies.

1. Make an appointment with your doctor

Begin your fall-prevention plan by making an appointment with your doctor. Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  • What medications are you taking? Make a list of your prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, or bring them with you to the appointment. Your doctor can review your medications for side effects and interactions that may increase your risk of falling. To help with fall prevention, your doctor may consider weaning you off medications that make you tired or affect your thinking, such as sedatives and some types of antidepressants.
  • Have you fallen before? Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell. Be prepared to discuss instances when you almost fell but were caught by someone or managed to grab hold of something just in time. Details such as these may help your doctor identify specific fall-prevention strategies.
  • Could your health conditions cause a fall? Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls. Be prepared to discuss your health conditions and how comfortable you are when you walk — for example, do you feel any dizziness, joint pain, shortness of breath, or numbness in your feet and legs when you walk? Your doctor may evaluate your muscle strength, balance and walking style (gait) as well.

2. Keep moving

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 — a gentle exercise that involves slow and graceful dance-like movements. Such activities reduce the risk of falls by improving strength, balance, coordination and flexibility.

If you avoid physical activity because you’re afraid it will make a fall more likely, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend carefully monitored exercise programs or refer you to a physical therapist. The physical therapist can create a custom exercise program aimed at improving your balance, flexibility, muscle strength and gait.

3. 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.

4. Remove home hazards

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 walkways.
  • 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.
  • Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower. Use a bath seat, which allows you to sit while showering.

5. Light up your living space

Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see. Also:

  • 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.

6. Use assistive devices

Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help, too. For example:

  • Hand rails for both sides of stairways
  • Nonslip treads for bare-wood steps
  • A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
  • Grab bars for the shower or tub
  • A sturdy plastic seat for the shower or tub — plus a hand-held shower nozzle for bathing while sitting down

If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall-prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive. Others may require professional help or a larger investment. If you’re concerned about the cost, remember that an investment in fall prevention is an investment in your independence.

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Open House and Ribbon Cutting

The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce will join AgeSmart Community Resources as we open our 801 West State Street location in O’Fallon.  The open house and ribbon cutting ceremony will be on August 22nd from noon – 3:00.  The ribbon cutting will take place at noon and a caregiver panel is scheduled for 1:00 pm.

AgeSmart is your local Area Aging on Aging.  We are here to help you “Age Well Your Way” and help people be independent and successful in their community as they age.  AgeSmart assures that comprehensive services are available for older adults in the community should they need them and maintain a database of all the resources available. Programs provided by AgeSmart, like Meals on Wheels, Senior Health Insurance Counseling are cost effective and help keep older adults healthier and able to remain independent.  Twenty different services are available to everyone 60 plus of all income levels and their caregivers. There is no charge for services only a suggested donation.

AgeSmart also provides a Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services Program. In collaboration with the two Area Agencies on Aging in Missouri, AgeSmart is part of the largest Veterans Directed programs in the country.  The program helps Veterans stay in their homes and provide them options on how to do so.

AgeSmart also works with communities to help them be a place that supports people as they age.  Stop by to see how AgeSmart can help you and your family.  Come to our open house and see what AgeSmart is about.

The New Senior Center

Local Senior Centers working with AgeSmart are reinventing their programs to help modernized their services.  AgeSmart offered Innovation Grants to help centers re-develop their programs to better meet the needs of today’s older adults.  The Bond County Senior Center, Clinton County Collaborative, Millstadt Senior Services, Seasoned Circle Café run by Lessie Bates, the Northeastern Randolph County Senior Center and Senior Services Plus (SSP) all were awarded Innovation Grants.  Great Ideas emerged from the grants such as the WOW (WithOut Walls) concept.  SSP plans to take the senior center on the road in their W.O.W. van.  Keep a look out for new innovations in your neighborhood!

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