Monthly Archives: June 2012

National Safety Month Continues

National Safety Month continues into the third and fourth weeks of June. The third week is dedicated to the theme of “preventing slips, trips, and falls.” While important for all of us, this theme is perhaps particularly notable for senior citizens.

Falls can be the result of clumsiness or lack of care, but they can also be caused by physical surroundings, obstacles, and health conditions. Common environmental hazards can include clutter on the floor or stairs, lack of handrails, spills, and poor lighting. Often, more than one of these things can combine to “trip up” someone who would otherwise rarely fall. Besides just maintaining a clear walking area in home and work, older adults can take extra precautions. Staying active can improve strength and balance, reducing the risk of a fall. Checking on your medicines and vision can also help prevent falls. Additional steps can be taken to remove tripping hazards or add extra non-slip strips or mats and hand rails. See this fact sheet for more detailed information. month wraps up with Diving Safety week. More Americans die in car accidents than in plane crashes annually, though we so seldom see car accidents on the national news. There are some simple things you can do to make your driving time as safe as possible:
• Buckle up. This is an easy step and can save your life. If that isn’t enough motivation, in some states, you can be pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt and issued a ticket — even if you are only a passenger.
• Don’t use your cell phone while driving, particularly to text. It is distracting, and most calls or texts can wait until you are stopped.
• Be a defensive driver. Assume those around you may make poor driving choices, and always be ready to act defensively.

Computers and Seniors

Studies going back to 2005 have shown the benefits of computer usage by the elderly, particularly regarding mental health. ( ) However, for many seniors, computers are just too complicated. They may need someone to walk them through their use.
Let’s look at a few basic concepts for computer use:


• Computers can help you stay organized and in touch with people you don’t see every day.

• The CPU or processor of a computer is like the brain. Dual Core processors are common. This just means the computer is smarter and can handle more complex tasks more quickly.

• RAM is the memory in a computer. The above article compares it to a desk – you can pull all sorts of information to look at on the top of the desk, but you can only have as much information as you can fit on the desk. You should have 1-2 GB minimum these days.
• 1 byte is the smallest unit of data. You can store, say, one letter of the alphabet with one byte.
• 1024 bytes = 1 kilobyte (KB) or roughly 1 page of writing
• 1024 KB = 1 megabyte (MB) or about 1000 pages.
• 1024 MB = 1 gigabyte (GB)

• A hard drive is like a filing cabinet; it’s where you store all sorts of information, files, pictures, videos, etc… You can put folders inside other folders to create a sort of filing hierarchy. A decent computer should have a 128 GB hard drive (HDD) at minimum. This may seem like a lot, but remember that pictures and the like can be large, but programs and applications (and your operating system) are even larger

• An Operating System is how you interact with the computer. Without some sort of interface, the computer is just a box full of stuff, sitting under or on your desk. The operating system lets you interact with the files, see the filing hierarchy, use your programs, and connect to the internet. It is the environment you do all of these things in and is what makes it possible for you to do so with ease. Examples include Mac, Windows, Linux, and Chrome.

• You will use a keyboard or mouse (link?) to interact physically with the computer. Most keyboards have the same key layout as an old typewriter would.

For the elderly, problems or trepidation may be related to more than just lack of knowledge; it may be physically difficult. Luckily, there are a number of aids available today to help! These include mice that are easier to grip, text-magnification software to make the screen easier to see, keyboards with larger, clearer keys/labels, and even abbreviated programs that slim down some of the superfluous options involved in most operating systems, making the computer less confusing.

Take Care

June is National Safety Month. Safety can refer to many different areas of one’s life. There can be home safety, road safety, gun safety, internet safety, information safety, etc… Each June, the National Safety Council designates weekly themes for the month. The first weeks’ theme was “Employee Wellness.”

This will mean different things in different settings. In an office, for instance, this may mean encouraging employees to be more active, binding loose cords that might trip someone, even starting a long-term plan to help support healthier eating. The NSC (National Safety Council) provides this fact sheet on Employee Wellness.

The second week of the month is dedicated to Ergonomics. The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics as: “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”

The Council also offers a fact sheet on ergonomics here – In the fact sheet, they outline some signs of poor ergonomics, like pain, swelling, tingly, etc, and some causes, such as awkward positioning, sitting or standing too long, over exertion, or other things that cause the body to move or rest in positions that are not biomechanically sound. Some office place ergonomics can be improved by getting a monitor stand, a wrist rest, a better chair, or new mouse.