Fall into Safety

The beautiful colors of October have passed into the windy month of November. Here are some winter safety recommendations for you and your family living in homes and apartments.

Everyday Life

Are you an evening or morning walker? Wear something reflective or carry a flashlight. This goes for bike riders, skateboarders and strollers. My husband and I wear headlamps because we have a dog and need to see where he’s left his packages. Stay on sidewalks whenever possible.

Morning drivers – clear your windows (all of them) before pulling out into traffic. I know it can take a few more minutes but it will also save you from accidents. Buy a window scraper to make it easy. However, if you find yourself in a pinch, using the edge of an old debit/credit card can be an effective way to scrape frost off of your windshield.

Keep the front entry of your home clear. Rain, leaves and the dark can make entries hazardous. Be sure potential obstacles are removed or easily seen. While you’re at it, check the outdoor lights to make sure they’re working and powerful enough to be useful.

Consider a landline. November is infamous for power outages and you don’t want to be caught without a phone in case of emergencies. Generally, landlines work even if the power is out. Contact your service provider to confirm that this is true for you. Extra battery packs for your cell phones are good to have on hand. External battery packs can charge a phone up to 2 – 4 times, depending on the battery and your particular phone.

Visiting Family and Friends for the Holidays

The holidays are a busy time for everyone, especially the event hosts. Keep your home safe for all ages with these tips:
Look for tripping hazards. Here’s what to look for:

  • Newspapers, books and toys might be left at the end of a favorite couch and can be dangerous.
  • Small rugs in kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms are opportunities for slipping and falling. Remove them if possible. If not, use grip tape which can be found at any hardware store.
  • Make sure there is plenty of light in hallways and bathrooms. Plug-in night lights are easy solutions.
  • Provide a stool at the sink and toilet for little ones so they don’t have to reach too far.

Daylight savings time is my reminder to prepare our home for winter. Use these to improve the safety of your home. Remember, safety is no accident.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.

Let There Be Light

I love September in the Northwest. The leaves turning red and gold, fresh apples off the trees and the crisp feel of the morning air. What I’m not crazy about are the shorter days, with less natural light. Light plays a crucial part in our health and as Fall creeps in, it takes more work to get the right light for different activities. The solution is to have different levels of light, from low to bright, soft to intense, and everywhere in between.

Using different bulbs, fixtures and switches will help create a variety of lighting options. Here’s a basic guide for interior lighting choices.

Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are the old school screw-in A-type bulbs. Of all the bulbs on the market, they are the least inexpensive and efficient. They aren’t recyclable and should be tossed in the garbage. Incandescent halogen bulbs have been slowly replacing incandescent bulbs. These bulbs are dimmable, with a wide range of light value and come in soft or warm colors. While halogens are 25% to 30% more efficient, they are also significantly more expensive. The idea is that they last longer, save energy and cost less over time.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) are the spiral looking bulbs. They are more energy-efficient, have a warmer light and are more expensive than the halogen bulbs. They take a while to warm up, are not dimmable, and need to be recycled. Because of their size and shape, CFLs don’t fit in some fixtures or lampshades.

Light-emitting diodes (LED) are the most efficient. They have a bright light, turn on instantly and last the longest. They are dimmable which is great for lighting levels. LEDs come in several colors of lights making them versatile for specific uses. They don’t need to be recycled. Puget Sound Energy often has deals on these lights, mostly on the brightest and coolest bulbs.

Fixtures

Recessed cans are used in ceilings to provide a cone of illumination. They are often used in the kitchen, bedroom, living room, and hallways. Cans can be used on their own, as spotlights for areas of interest in a room, or provide a level of light that enhances other fixtures. Cans are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and finishes.

Track lighting is a system of lighting where light fixtures, such as pendants or cans, are attached anywhere on a continuous track device which contains electrical conductors. Tracks are great for providing multiple directions of light along one line. They are often used in kitchens, dining rooms, and closets. There is an endless variety of possibilities of tracks and their fixtures.

Task lights are for specific areas of work and reading that require bright light. Under-cabinet mounted lights in the kitchen are a good example of task lighting for meal prep. Table and floor lamps can be task lights used for reading, crafts, and detailed work.

Switches

Rocker switches are easy to use for all ages and stages of life. The rocker switch turns the light on and off. Rocker switches can have a dimmer lever which makes them versatile for light control.

Motion sensors turn on as soon as they sense motion. They can be set on a timer to turn off after a certain amount of time with no motion. These are useful in bathrooms, halls, and rooms that are used infrequently.

Touch sensor switches respond to touch on the light plate. They can be used to turn a light on and off or to dim with a touch or swipe. These can be wall switches for room light fixtures. They are also found on lamps.

Smart switches are gaining popularity as home heating/lighting systems and appliances are run from central home control hubs. They are programmable with smart home systems, set on timers and levels of light. Smart switches can be accessed remotely with computers and cell phones.

All of these switches can be illuminated to be easily found in the dark. My recommendation is to add lights to just a few switches in the home, especially the bedroom. Too many will add a lot of light to a room and may disturb sleep.

When used together, bulbs, fixtures, and switches provide a variety of amounts and colors of light. When planning on new lighting, consider what activities will be happening in the room to figure out what levels will be needed. For instance, the kitchen will need a ceiling light source for all over-illumination. Task lighting should be available for food prep. If the kitchen has an eating bar, dimmable pendants on a track will add soft ambiance for eating or brightened for detail work like homework.

Good lighting is important for safety and comfort in our homes. There are many more types, shapes, and colors than this list. Make sure that there is enough light where it’s needed, that there are provisions for options of intensity, and that lighting controls are easily accessible by everyone in the house.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.

Let the Barbecues Begin

Despite what the school calendars say, Pacific Northwest summers actually start in late July and continue into September. It’s an excellent time for outdoor entertaining, picnics, and grilling. Barbecues have been the foundation of many good parties and meals at home. While grilling is easy and adds delicious flavor to meats and vegetables, there are safety measures to remember. Here are a few to keep in mind the next time you start the flames.

Location, location, location, and other grill safety measures.

Keep the barbecue at least 10’ away from nearby houses or structures and clear from low
hanging branches. Make sure that the barbecue is stable and won’t tip to one side or topple
over.

Set up somewhere where children and pets can’t get to the grill. Besides the concerns with an open flame, the grill will stay hot for an hour after it’s turned off. Never leave the barbecue unattended – enough said. Keep a fire extinguisher, a pail of sand or a bucket of water nearby in case of fire. Do not turn on a gas grill with the top closed. Gases can build up inside and cause a fire when opened.

Clean the grill regularly, preferably after each use. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning, and remove charred food and debris before using. Coals can take up to 48 hours to burn out and can be added to compost as long as they are made from wood, free from chemicals or additives.

Keep it clean and avoid cross-contamination. Wash hands and utensils with warm soapy water regularly. It’s an easy step to forget, but bacteria can grow on uncooked meats and fish and you don’t want them to spread. This includes serving dishes, cutting boards, and dish towels.

Keep raw meats, chicken, and fish on separate and clean surfaces. Raw food and cooked foods should be kept on different plates/platters. Make sure all surfaces are clean, particularly if you plan on re-using them. Marinate food in the refrigerator and not on the counter. Don’t reuse the sauce – if using some marinade on the cooked food, reserve some uncontaminated sauce for later use.

Make sure to cook food thoroughly. Here are some interior temperature guidelines:
– Hamburgers should have no pink and be 160°
– Chicken, also no pink, 165°
– Salmon, 125° to 130° for a medium finish
– Steak is considered medium-rare at 135°

Let meats sit after taking them off the grill:
– Salmon for 5 minutes
– Steak and other meat for 15 minutes.

Food should not sit out for long, 90 minutes to 2 hours is the maximum time. Better to follow these guidelines:
– Hot food should stay hot. Wrap hot food in foil or put in an insulated container.
– Cold food can be kept on a shallow container on top of ice in a cooler, or stored in the
refrigerator.

When possible, keep beverages in one cooler and food in a different one. The beverage cooler will be opened more regularly, reducing it’s cooling ability faster than one that stays closed.

Environmentally conscientious – every bit helps.

Reduce waste and save money with reusable containers for storage and leftovers. Consider using re-useable plates and silverware.
Eco-friendly plates and utensils are available and can be tossed into compost containers after the meal. Buy local. Our local farmers offer great grilling vegetables, meats, and fruits. These products are fresh and full of flavor. Besides reducing the plastic packaging and mileage that comes with store-bought food, you are supporting our farmers and local economy.

Barbecuing is fun and a great way to enjoy summer. Grilling safety is important to avoid accidents and illness. At your next outdoor event, remember to keep hands, dishes, the grill clean and cook foods thoroughly. Enjoy!

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.

New Flooring

Summer can be a good time for home renovations and a great time to replace old flooring, as doors can be kept open to keep dust and odors down to a minimum.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the high traffic areas in our homes. Replacing the flooring can make a room look fresh and contemporary. Here are some helpful considerations to keep in mind when shopping for new flooring. Overall, your new floors should be easy to clean, durable, comfortable to stand on and fit your price point. Slip resistance is an important component to keep in mind, particularly in these rooms where spills and overflows can happen.

Wood floors are good-looking and can be cleaned with a broom, vacuum or light mopping. They are soft and can be scratched or dented. Generally, refinishing wood floors requires a professional. When dry, wood offers good slip resistance and is not recommended for bathrooms. Depending on the variety, wood will be the most expensive choice for flooring.

Porcelain tile floors are easily cleaned with a broom and mop and have a hard protective surface that makes them impervious to water and stain resistant. They are durable, won’t scuff or scratch, and can be texturized for slip resistance. Tile comes in many colors, patterns and easily worked into any decor. On the flip side, tile floors can be cold to walk on, and noisy if walking in heels or hard soled shoes. There are tile products made specifically with slip-resistant materials. Smaller tiles, 2” x 2” are recommended for showers and bathrooms. Tile is in the mid-range price point of flooring materials.

People like to use small rugs and runners on tile and wood to make them more comfortable to stand on. Unfortunately, both of these can be tripping hazards and not recommended in these areas.

Vinyl floors are easy to clean, durable and the most water resistant flooring choice. Vinyl flooring can be damaged by sharp objects, but there are repair systems that work well. It’s economical and there are slip-resistant options available. The drawback to vinyl is that it is made of synthetic material and can not be recycled. A similar product, linoleum, is made from natural materials which makes it a more sustainable product. It is, however, more expensive and less water-resistant than vinyl.

These are the most popular choices of flooring, but this is not a comprehensive list. I recommend consulting with a flooring expert to determine what will work best for you. If your priority is traction and safety, I recommend non-slip vinyl flooring. There are many choices at every price point that will be easy to clean, long-lasting and lovely to look at.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.

Are you getting enough sleep?

We are increasingly aware of how good sleep affects our well being. It’s not just the hours spent in bed, it’s also the quality of sleep that is critical for good health. Here are some of the benefits of consistent good nights rest:

  • Helps maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves memory
  • Lowers risk for serious health issues
  • Reduces inflammation

There are several things to do that will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Get ready for bed.

  • Finish eating 2 hours before you go to sleep.
  • Exercise daily (at least 3 hours before bed).
  • Turn off the screens, including phones, tablets, computers, and the t.v.
  • Go to sleep close to the same time every night.
  • Make a rest ritual before bed. Try reading, stretching or taking a leisurely stroll to relax from the day’s stress.

Create a sanctuary.
Your bedroom’s environment can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Design your surroundings for peace and calm.

  • Make sure you have a good bed. If your mattress is over 8 years old, you might want to consider getting a new one. They lose their integrity over time.
  • Color your room calm. Muted shades of blues, grays, and greens create a restful tone. If you love color, use accents like colorful pillows and throws that can be removed at bedtime.
  • Keep it dark. Light can make it hard to fall asleep, or stay asleep. Look for culprits like digital clocks, cable boxes, computers, and phones. Put them away or cover them up to prevent getting disturbed by them. Dark out shades are great for keeping all of the natural, neighbors and street lights out of your bedroom at night.
  • Keep it quiet. Noises can interrupt your rest. Try closing the windows to keep outside noise belongs. There are lots of options for white noise machines that provide soothing sound and block out annoying sounds.
  • Cool rooms are the best for a good night’s sleep. 67° to 70° is optimal.

Bedroom safety is important.
With the lights turned off, it’s easy to bump into dressers and chairs or trip over rugs and clutter. Keeping a tidy room is a good start to safety and adds to the peaceful zone you’ve created in your sanctuary.

  • Stacked books, baskets or anything else left on the floor should be picked up and stored away.
  • Make sure there are clear paths to doors, the closet, and bathroom.
  • Remove small rugs in the bedroom, bathroom, and halls.
  • dd sensor lights low on the walls and halls, 18” high or so, to light your way to the bathroom.
  • Organize cords and keep them out of walking paths. When possible, it’s best to tack cords down along the base of walls so they are out of the way.

Getting enough quality sleep is important to good health. Improving your nightly rituals, and creating a calm and safe atmosphere in the bedroom will help you get the rest you need. Wake up bright and re-charged to enjoy your day.

Susie Landsem
Aging in Place by Design
Susie is a consultant for Aging in Place. Contact her if you have questions about adding safety and comfort solutions to your home.

Pilates

Pilates class is designed to work your powerhouse muscles – abs, lower back, thighs, and buttocks. The discipline emphasizes correct form to help develop strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, coordination, balance, & good posture. Designed for all levels, this class is offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cordata and Wednesdays at our downtown location.

Muscle-Strengthening for Active Aging

Need some ideas for muscle-strengthening?

  • Strengthening exercises using exercise bands, weight machines, or hand-
    held weights.
  • Body-weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, planks, squats, lunges)
  • Digging, lifting, and carrying as part of gardening
  • Carrying groceries
  • Some Yoga postures
  • Some forms of Tai Chi

*US Dept. of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition

Aqua Zumba

Aqua Zumba brings new meaning to the idea of an invigorating workout. It combines the South American Zumba rhythm and dance steps with a pool party! There is less impact on your joints during an Aqua Zumba® class so you can really let loose. Water creates natural resistance, which means every step is more challenging and helps tone your muscles. If you like to dance and have fun, come join us! Wednesdays @ 10:30.