Staying Active: Why Helping the Older Adults in your Life Exercise is the Best Care you Can Provide

Guest Post Author: Kelli Huggins | Grace Ridge Retirement Community

Exercise in Older Adults

Exercise plays an important role in overall wellness and provides the strength to participate in the activities we love. As a Well4Life Wellness Coordinator and Licensed Recreational Therapy Assistant, I’ve dedicated the past 10 years to developing tactics and discovering programs to engage seniors in fitness.

Fitness can be as simple as adding small changes to your daily routine to build strength and balance or adopting more formal training, such as the Ageless Grace program or Tai Chi.

Below are a series of suggestions for caregivers and seniors to encourage movement and maximize health benefits with and without a certification.

Movement with Music

For seniors new to a fitness routine, music can encourage participation and keep them on track to achieve their fitness goals.

For the best results, tailor music based on resident experiences and personal preferences. If it is near a holiday, incorporate seasonal music. If there is no specific preference, soft music, classical and easy listening are great for any group.

Continue to modify the music by adjusting the volume, providing headphones if needed and incorporating song requests. 

Building Strength

As a caregiver or as you age, you understand how important it is to continue to participate in the activities you love. Doing so not only maintains a routine but can also provide a certain level of independence.

Strength exercises allow your body to move more easily, making everyday activities like climbing the stairs, picking up groceries, standing up from a seated position and opening jars much easier.

Adding strength training to your routine doesn’t need to be complicated. Household items and your own body weight are the perfect tools. Try using soup cans as hand weights or adding leg raises and overhead arm raises to your routine to help build muscle.

 

Group Of Seniors Using Resistance Bands In Fitness Class

Staying Balanced

Strength, in combination with balance, is incredibly beneficial to seniors. Adding short balance exercises to your daily routine can make a huge difference. Try standing on one foot while doing the dishes or brushing your teeth. Incorporate balance into your routine by holding both hands out and straight while walking or walk heal-to-toe as if you were on a balance beam.

Practicing balance exercises will help you navigate uneven sidewalks or foundation, reach items on high shelves, bend over to reach low items, turn around quickly and avoid falls.

Tai Chi

Balance can also be improved through the practice of Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese art form and one of the most effective exercises for health, mind, and body. Dr. Paul Lam’s principles include mind integrated with the body, incorporating the fluidity of movements, controlled breathing, and mental concentration.

After your body is fully warm, starting with the top of the body and going down to the feet, you can move into the basic tai chi movement with a focus on improving range of motion.

For those suffering from arthritis, Tai Chi improves muscle strength, flexibility and overall fitness. The benefits of Tai Chi also extend to fall prevention as the movements focus on weight transference to improve overall balance.

Try to maintain healthy fitness habits, no matter your ageAgeless Grace

To further improve cognitive performance, the Ageless Grace program, created by Denise Medved, incorporates 21 simple tools for lifelong comfort and ease. The program helps develop and strengthen new neural pathways to support a long and healthy life.

The 21 tools are based on everyday natural movements and are focused on the ability to respond, react and recover. The tools are easy to follow at home and are designed to be performed seated in a chair, down on the floor, or standing.

The tools are uniquely named to make them easy to remember. Some of my favorites include:

  • Exercise Tool #1 Juicy Joints – joint mobility, flexibility and circulation
  • Exercise Tool #6 Try Chi – joint stability, eye-hand coordination and breathing
  • Exercise Tool #10 Rockin’ Rockettes – lower body strength, hip mobility, ankle and foot flexibility and arch support.

The Ageless Grace program helps improve joint mobility, spinal flexibility, right-left brain coordination, bone density, balance, fall prevention, self-esteem and confidence.

About the Author

Kelli Huggins_headshotKelli Huggins, Well4Life Wellness Coordinator and Licensed Recreational Therapy Assistant at Grace Ridge Retirement Community in Morganton, NC, has developed senior wellness techniques and educated professionals across the state for the past decade. Kelli recently presented at the North Carolina Recreational Therapy Association on exercise in older adults. Follow Grace Ridge Retirement Community on Facebook or YouTube.

A 5-Step Guide on How to Take Care of Older Adults at Home

Guest Post Author: Chris Palmer | AgeSpace

One of the hardest things we go through is watching as our loved one begin to require additional care. The people who you were so dependent on when you were a child are now in need of your support. The emotional struggle can be hard and even harder when you don’t know how to take care of them at home; so, we’re here to give you a hand. We have a 5-step guide on how to take care of older adults at home.

Start Talking
You should start talking to them about everything you think they are concerned about. Ask them where they want to live, ask them what their wants or needs are, find out about their additional activities, talk to them about your heritage or history and learn about some of your relatives or friends! Discuss any financial issues that you think should be talked about and just try spending time with them, so they do not feel neglected. Make them feel like they are a part of your lives, so they don’t drift away.

Make a Plan
Family members will often suddenly find themselves in the position of a caregiver to the older adults in their life. Planning can help you in so many ways, and you won’t even have to be worried all the time. You need to start by keeping your home a safe area for them. You can set up a first aid kit for your home, or get smoke detectors with strobe lights so they can quickly wake up when there is an emergency.

Keep them healthy
To take care of your loved one, you need to make sure that they have a healthy lifestyle. Encourage exercise as it aids in their motor skills and strength, which has the potential to reduce falls. If you feel that your loved one is unable to exercise or swim, then you can always schedule a regular activity session as it enhances their well-being and has so many emotional benefits and doesn’t require a lot of effort!

Embrace and Encourage mental/physical health
Medication management is so important for older adults mental and physical health. As a caregiver, remind them to take their medication and visit their doctor on a regular basis. Their mental health is just as important and sometimes overlooked by health care professionals, but you should keep an eye out for any symptoms of dementia and depression and notify their physician if symptoms worsen or change.

Consider a Professional caregiver
There are many challenging feelings of guilt and responsibility attached with family caregiving. However, you don’t have to do it all. Hiring a professional caregiver can help you feel more secure in the care you are providing and wards off burnout, which is a common side effect of caregiving. Additional help also allows for more time to promote the independence of your loved one as there are more time and patience to let them direct their care.

About Author:
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This article was written by Chris Palmer who regularly shares advice on elderly care. In particular dementia and supporting your elderly parent. You can find more by Chris on https://www.agespace.org/.

 

The Power of Podcasts

Guest Post Author: Andrea Wurster | The Memory Muse

Trends show that older adults are becoming more and more ‘tech savvy’! In fact, plenty of older adults are using iPhones and iPads as they are perceived as simple and ‘clean.’ A large body of research now understands what the technology needs of older adults are, as well as how they should be best addressed. Universities and teaching hospitals are offering courses on iPads and smartphones; as the population continues to age, tech will be increasingly applied to aging processes and care! Not to fear for we are here!

I recently spoke with a lovely couple from my community. Paul, newly diagnosed with dementia, published a number of best-selling Canadian novels. His wife, Beverly—now transitioning into ‘caregiver’—fears that her husband may be bored as he is no longer able to read. Beverly still enjoys her morning paper and afternoon novel but feels guilt when Paul ‘just sits’ as she reads. This guilt is exacerbated as reading was an activity they enjoyed together.   

As a social gerontologist, I immediately mentioned the effectiveness of music and the calming effect of photographs. As the lovely couple mentioned that they have tried (and tired) both options, my mind trailed off onto the topic of podcasts. Podcasts are like radio shows, pre-recorded for your listening pleasure. I commute for almost seven hours every week, and I myself am tired of music. Recently, I have been listening to podcasts (thank you, Electric Runway)! The time I spend listening is not only entertaining, but keeps me up-to-date with current technology, events, and politics.

 

 

 

The Podcasts App is featured on all iPads and iPhones. This app features podcasts for any and every topic—from history to fashion, and cooking to dogs. The purple icon opens a whole world of information that only requires your ears! Podcasts last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour… And beyond! I, therefore, explained that there has to be a history podcast applicable to his interests. You can search a keyword and download to listen.

To support listening, I recommend large headphones that comfortably fit over the ear like the white ones featured on this post (Walmart, $11.15). iPhones and iPads come with complimentary ‘ear pods.’ These ear pods, however, are unusable (and uncomfortable) with hearing aids.

 

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We cannot fear technology, nor aging and dementia. We must continue to be resilient, adapt, and learn how to best deal with our realities. It is evident that caregivers require more support, resources, and assistance. Together we can revolutionize the way we age, and the way in which we perceive aging.


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Andrea is a second year Masters of Science Student (in eHealth) at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Throughout her undergrad, Andrea worked in Therapeutic Recreation in long-term care. Andrea’s research focus surrounds technology needs for informal/formal caregivers, as well as technology needs in long-term care. Andrea’s mission is to normalize aging through fashion, technology, and awareness.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MemoryMuse

Blog: memorymuseblog.wordpress.com

Laid to Rest at Home: How to Plan a Home Memorial Service for Your Departed Loved One

Guest Post Author: Bailey Chauner | Content Marketing Coordinator for Redfin

Senior couple holding hands

Having a memorial for a loved one after their passing is an important part of the grieving process. It’s a time to honor them, share memories with family and friends, and say goodbye. Some families find that there’s no better place to hold this personal event than at home, but knowing exactly where to start the planning process — especially amid the grief of a loss — can feel overwhelming.

This guide will help you plan a beautiful, meaningful home memorial service for a recently departed loved one. Proceed with patience and plenty of support. With a little time and the right planning, you can hold a service that will allow your family to come together and say goodbye.

Choosing a kind of service: Memorials vs. Funerals

The services and items you’ll need in planning a home memorial will vary depending on the kind of service you’ll have. Your loved one may have left instruction on their final arrangements, but if not there are two main options: memorials and funerals.

Memorial

Memorials usually involve a group of family and friends coming together to mourn the loss of a loved one. There may be photos of the departed, flowers, and at least one eulogy, often from a surviving spouse, parent, or sibling. Some families also choose to have a religious or spiritual figure speak. The loved one is typically represented by a large photo, a collection of photos, wreath, or if they’ve been cremated, their urn.

Food and drink are often incorporated into memorials and can be organized in just about any format that works for you and your loved ones. Some memorials will offer light refreshments like water, coffee, crackers, cheese, and mini sandwiches. In other cases, the memorial is a potluck where family and friends are invited to bring a dish to share. Alcohol isn’t required, but it’s commonly offered — typically a basic wine selection is sufficient. Leftovers stay with the host or are given to the immediate family of the deceased (if the memorial is held at someone else’s home). For large memorials, it might be worth the expense to hire a caterer to provide finger foods, utensils, and drinks.

The location of the memorial within the house is entirely up to you; one convenience of a home memorial is that you can tailor it to be exactly how you want. Some families even choose to have a backyard service if the weather permits. The living room, den, or formal dining room are all good options, but ultimately it will depend on the space available in the house. You’ll need adequate room for your guests to chat amongst themselves before and after the service, seating for the formal eulogy or service, and places for people to set their food and drinks. Finally, there should be some kind of a dedicated space where the speakers will be clearly seen and heard, usually close to the visual representation of the deceased loved one.

Seating doesn’t necessarily have to be anything formal — though you can rent extra chairs if you have space and finances to do so — and many people manage by bringing all the chairs in the home to the memorial space. Neighbors and other nearby family and friends will likely be able to bring over extra chairs if needed. Arrange them facing the speakers’ area, and do your best to leave clear pathways for guests.

Flowers are somewhat traditional for memorials but can be quite expensive. A floral wreath with your loved one’s photo is often more than enough to create a beautiful and personal tribute and won’t cost too much, especially if multiple family members pitch in. If you do choose to buy additional floral displays, don’t be afraid to deviate from the normal white arrangements. A home Memorial allows you to really personalize the experience, so consider choosing types and colors of flowers that will bring happy memories of your loved one: the peonies your mother carried on her wedding day, tulips the color of your brother’s prized ’67 Mustang, or the roses your grandmother grew in her garden, for example. Keep in mind that though they make a lovely addition to a home memorial, flowers are completely optional — often those that are sent by loved ones with condolences are enough to create the desired effect.

peonies-in-vase

Another option instead of flowers is to collect money and donate to a charity that was near and dear to the deceased one’s heart. This donation can be made in the memory of the person who died to honor a cause that was meaningful to them.

Large memorials may require a more advanced sound system. Some families like to play their loved one’s favorite songs (the volume level really depends on the tone of your memorial, but usually you’ll opt for the quiet side) or other calming music to soothe their guests before the service. Having a microphone and speaker set-up will make it easier for your eulogists to be heard, and even better if you have some kind of podium or raised step for them to stand on.

If finances are tight, you’ll likely be able to find a neighbor, family member, or friend who will have access to equipment you can borrow. Don’t be afraid to ask around; your loved ones will be hoping to lend a hand at this difficult time, so let them.

Please click here to read the full article from Redfin. 

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About the Author: 

Bailey, Redfin’s Content Marketing Coordinator, loves writing about all topics related to home ownership from data to dogs and décor. Bailey’s dream home would have an oversize walk in closet and overlook Lake Washington. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster.

 www.twitter.com/redfin

www.facebook.com/redfin/

 

 

Urinary Tract Infections Strike at Any Age… Keep an Eye Out for These 6 Signs.

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First posted on Sixty and Me on May 9, 2017.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are not an ideal topic for conversation. They are a painful nuisance that accounts for 8.1 million people visiting their primary care physician each year.

However, the severity of symptoms that can occur in an older adult makes it a necessary conversation topic.

UTIs can occur for anyone at any age but are most common in women and older adults. As we get older, however, the symptoms of a UTI will change. If you’ve had one in your life, you know that they can be both painful and uncomfortable. However, aside from the general irritation, and although rare, you may outwardly show changes in your cognition.

UTIs Often Mistaken for Early Stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s

UTIs in the elderly are often mistaken for the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, according to National Institutes of Health (NIH), because symptoms include confusion or delirium-like state, agitation, and hallucinations. Some may exhibit other behavioral changes, poor motor skills or dizziness, or even fall.

These symptoms may manifest themselves in different ways that often risk the dignity of the infected older adult. It is not uncommon for seniors to do out of the ordinary things such as curse at or threaten to harm their caregivers as well as remove articles of clothing in public.

Unfortunately, when an older adult starts “acting out” or demonstrating “aggressive behavior” the first diagnosis given by health care professionals is a complication due to dementia or Alzheimer’s rather than looking at the behavior as a symptom of an UTI.

These types of drastic personality changes are common, but because the symptoms are so closely associated with dementia, it is often interpreted as just another reminder of our loved one’s cognitive decline.

How to Reduce the Risk of a UTI

UTIs are caused by bacteria in the bladder. People with incontinence or who have difficulty getting up and going to the bathroom on their own are more at risk for UTIs because of the close contact the adult briefs have with their skin.

Here are some suggestions for reducing the risk of UTI. First, drink plenty of fluids (2 to 4 quarts each day) and drink cranberry juice or use cranberry tablets. However, avoid caffeine and alcohol because these irritate the bladder. It may be helpful to set a timer to remind on the use of the bathroom.

For women, do not use douches or other feminine hygiene products and always wipe from front to back. Also, wear cotton-cloth underwear, and change briefs frequently, at least once a day. You can read more suggestions here.

3 Ways to Track and Prevent UTIs

Talk to a Doctor

Left untreated, UTIs can severely compromise the immune systems of older adults. A UTI can be determined with a simple urine test, so asking a doctor to perform a urine test when we notice a sudden change in behavior is a great way to prevent prolonged discomfort and worsening of symptoms for our loved ones.

Take Notes

Family caregivers should always keep notes of their loved one’s medical conditions and behavior even when a UTI is not suspected. Charting this day to day is helpful in managing care, and also allows us to document trends we may not pay too much attention to in the moment. Click here for documentation resources.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration in older adults is common and is a leading cause of developing an UTI. Drinks like Gatorade and apple juice are popular options to keeping our loved ones hydrated.

Like mentioned above, drinking cranberry juice is a popular home remedy for treating UTIs. This sweet juice is also a more enticing drink to offer our loved ones who just don’t seem to drink enough water. Read more on how cranberry juice fights urinary tract infections here.

Caregiving that Enhances Dignity

UTIs in older adults will cause our parent or loved one to act in all types of ways that may compromise their dignity. As a family caregiver, it is shocking and even hurtful when our loved one becomes angry and threatens us. But taking these types of reactions personally can be detrimental to the quality of care we provide as we may become more cautious or saddened by their new behavior.

As we stop and consider these behaviors as symptoms rather than natural progressions to a disease process we may begin to reframe the way we provide care. Catching these types of changes at the onset of an infection will better allow us to get them the medical treatment they need, but also stops the worsening of these often-uncharacteristic behaviors.

How The 5 Senses Can Help Loved Ones Living with Dementia

Senior woman and caregiver at home

Originally posted at Sixty and Me 

Our memories mean so much to us. They provide us with a sense of self and stand as a reminder of the journey we have taken in this life. And the memories we share with the people closest to us become an intricate piece of our identity.

As these memories are so deeply entwined with our sense of self, it is difficult to imagine there could ever come a time that we won’t have them. And understandably, this is a reason why so many of us work to enhance our memory through healthy living choices.

The loss of memory caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s is arguably the most upsetting part of the disease process. And for family and close friends, our loved one’s memory loss may have a profoundly personal effect on our relationships. But it shouldn’t stand in the way of spending time and creating new memories together.

Communication is Key to Helping Someone Who is Living with Dementia

When diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it is possible that our loved ones will at times not recognize us for who we are. They may reference us as their mother or father and may not even remember that they are married or if they have children. Although painful, this does not mean that their lives with us have become unimportant, nor does it mean we won’t have more special moments with them now.

How do we respond to our loved ones in these moments? It may feel natural to correct them or to ask “Don’t you remember?” but these types of responses have the potential to embarrass them. Our loved ones do not realize they’ve forgotten something so important, and to be made aware they have can cause a mixture of hurt and confusion.

In their post on memory loss and confusion, The Alzheimer’s Association gives several tips on how to respond and suggests gentle ways we can evoke the memories of our loved ones. Even if they think we are strangers and even if they don’t remember it later, our time spent with them will still mean the world to them at that moment.

Stirring up Memories through our Senses

Sight

Vision 2020’s the Right to Sight Fact Sheet is a wonderful resource when trying to understand vision problems associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sometimes our loved one may not recognize who we are because they are having a difficult time seeing our face. If our loved one begins to lose their vision, finding activities that rely on their other senses is a great way to ignite their memories.

Touch

Tactile stimulation is brain stimulation because it is our brain that feels and recognizes the various textures, temperatures, and shapes. Creating a sensory board of our loved one’s interests or favorite past times is an excellent way to stimulate their memory.

For instance, if your father was a carpenter, incorporating sand paper (which comes in a broad variety of grits), a wood block or maybe even a tool enhances the likelihood he will benefit and interact with the board.

Other suggestions for tactile stimulation include small carpet and fabric samples; pinecones, acorns, and other things found outdoors; peach pits, gourds, avocado, orange, kiwi, and other textured food items; and pieces of ceramic and stone tile (just make sure there are no sharp edges).

Sound

The documentary Alive Inside demonstrates how music can be used as a tool to prompt memory, engage, and create meaningful experiences for people living with Dementia.

Music and memory are a magical duo, and music has a place in almost every situation while working with a person living with dementia. A fun and useful way to enhance the time we spend with our loved one is to listen to music together. Old favorites and popular sing-along songs are a great starting place when using music to reminisce.

Smell

Does the smell of baking remind you of your grandmother’s house? Or the smell of the ocean remind you of past family vacations? These types of memories are an episodic memory and have a powerful way of reminding us of the past.
Enticing their sense of smell is a great way to bring back those happy memories for our loved ones.

Even beyond memory, aromatherapy can also be used to create a tranquil and calming space or as a way to stimulate their appetites. For relaxation, try lavender, sweet orange or jasmine. And for appetite stimulants try baked apples, citrus, and spices.

Living for the Moments, not the Memories

Aging is a natural part of life, and whether we remember them or not, we will continue to have meaningful moments. Our inability to remember does not mean that it has to redefine who we are, nor does it diminish the importance of the many moments that we have collected over the years.

The best gift we can give to our loved one is to create moments that make them feel loved and protected. In a space that is comfortable and familiar, we can decrease their anxiety and make the time spent together meaningful.

3 Tips for Recovering from a Fall and Finding Your Confidence Again

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First Published on Sixty and Me on January 18, 2017.

Winter truly is a beautiful season! White fresh snow covers the ground and the sun glistens on icicles hanging on tree branches and windows. And there is nothing quite like curling up with a cup of tea and a warm blanket to peer out at the wintry scene.

For some, it is a time for sledding, skating or even skiing. Personally, I’ve always taken the most passive approach to winter: Admiring its beauty – from the comforts of a heated home – to venture out when I’ve run out of necessary provisions such as chocolate or wine, only to quickly return home and resume my position on the couch.

For all of its striking natural beauty, there is a more serious side of winter many of us dread such as the slick roads, slippery walkways, treacherous stairs and the ice-paved parking lots. This time of year, we become a bit more cautious as we slow our pace and shuffle our walk in hopes we can avoid a horrible – and rather public – fall

We are all susceptible to falls. For people living in the North, icy conditions are a familiar part of the season. Regardless what season it is or where you’re living, a fall could leave you feeling embarrassed, hurt or timid to get back up.

Although falls may be inevitable, they shouldn’t scare us into submission. Keeping the following three tips in mind could help you stand tall after the next fall.

Take a Moment to Assess the Situation

If you have fallen, you know that the experience can leave you in a state of shock. This response is typical; it stops us from bouncing right back up, which has the potential to injure ourselves further. We need this moment to gather our senses and to assess the seriousness of the situation.

In the chaos of the moment, however, particularly when we are out and about, our initial shock is most likely coupled with a public response. Our companions and passersby will stop to lend a hand. It has been my experience that although this response is from a place of goodwill, the gathered crowd and the constant questions about your well-being create even more confusion.

Tip #1: Take a moment to calm your nerves before addressing those around you. Sit for a moment taking deep breaths and allow your body to get over the shock. We may not even know the true extent of our injuries until the shock wears off. And when you feel ready, choose to accept or decline the aid offered by those around you.

Getting Back Up and Trying Again

It is natural to become more careful and nervous while walking or during our regular routines after a tumble. We may even want to avoid the activities we were doing when the fall occurred…not for lack of interest but rather out of fear we could fall again.

But much like all things we avoid, our fears or worries will only magnify over time. Anxiety is self-sustaining, and it is often our thoughts and worries that stop us from pursuing the things we fear. However, if we never give ourselves the chance to address our anxieties, we will never prove to ourselves that we can overcome them.

Tip # 2: Assume your normal routine. This is one of the fastest ways to regain confidence in your abilities. If you don’t know if you can do this on your own, seek the support of those around you. A good way to do this is to vocalize concerns of a reoccurring incident to those closest to us. Not only does this give us moral support, but our friends become a soundboard so that we can hear our fears aloud, which may help in acknowledging them.

Reframe the Conversation

Maybe even worse than the physical injuries themselves is the sudden ever-cautious and watchful eyes of those around us. As is often the case after a fall, statements like “Be careful” when mentioning going out to the store, or, “Are you sure? Why don’t you let me do that for you instead” become a part of each conversation.

Undoubtedly others’ concern for our well-being comes from a place of sincere good will, but how much of this do we internalize? Have you ever caught yourself saying things like, “I’m just clumsy” or “I should pay more attention to where I am going”? These statements may feel harmless, but they also suggest that falling is somehow our fault.

If we created our public spaces with the needs of older adults in mind, it is feasible we all could continue to live independently in our communities without having to worry about the many obstacles that cause us to fall.

Tip #3: Reframe the conversation. Particularly when we fall in our community, identify the source of the fall. Was the curb not painted, so that we could more clearly notice the step? Was there no handrail present along the sidewalk? These are important details that we should bring into the conversation to shift the blame from ourselves and instead discuss the redesign of our communities. These changes will allow people – no matter what age – to feel both safe and secure.

And remember. Whether you’ve fallen, are afraid you might fall or know someone who is fearful, falling does not have to redefine who you are. Nor should it stop you from doing the things you love.