Preventing Falls

What a Difference a Few Simple Things Can Make

Every day, we look for ways to optimize our efforts. If we can find activities that accomplish multiple goals at once that is even better. This is especially true when it comes to things that benefit our health. For all of us, but especially those over age 60, a significant cause of accidental injuries and death each year are due to falling. Falls often result in expensive emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. Older adults often end up in costly long-term care facilities. The financial cost can be overwhelming. Beyond the initial injuries, a person’s ability to actively engage in life, impacting their physical and emotional health, can be the result.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to prevent falls from happening to begin with?

Yes, there is good news! Most risk factors that increase the likelihood of falling can be minimized or eliminated. A few of the most common risk factors and some solutions include:

  • Trip hazards at home and work

Improve lighting, re-route cords across walking paths, remove clutter on the floor, remove or secure loos floor coverings, add non-slip mats to showers/tubs, fix uneven/loose steps and handrails.

  • Inappropriate and poorly fitting footwear

Wear shoes that fit well and provide proper support for activities. Loose-fitting shoes, untied laces or those that hang to the ground, and especially “open” shoes like flip-flops and open-back slip-ons can contribute to falling.

  • Lower body Strength

Don’t be a body builder but ensuring strength and flexibility in our back and legs can mean the difference between a stumble and a fall with injuries.

  • Medication

Many common over the counter and prescription medications can cause issues with balance, reaction time, dehydration, and other contributors to falls. Work with your healthcare team to reduce or change problematic meds.

  • Poor Vision

Wear glasses or contacts that correct your vision as much as possible. (Sometimes we can’t fully correct all vision issues.) In addition, be sure to remove reading and computer glasses, and look through the top part of bi-focals or remove them before walking.

Every one of these risk factors can be identified and most can be completely resolved at little or no cost. At the same time, we can reduce the very significant medical costs of fall-related injuries in Idaho which is more than $253 million each year ($50 billion nationally).

Throughout September, the Idaho Commission on Aging (ICOA) will be presenting free seminars about falls prevention.  Learn more about…

  • The full impact of falls on individuals, families, and Idaho communities in the Why Falls Matter seminar.
  • Performing home and office audits for trip hazards in the Identifying and removing Trip hazards at Home seminar.
  • Simple at-home exercises you can do by watching or following along as a physical therapist demonstrates them during the Simple Steps seminar.
  • Ensuring healthcare students and professionals include assessing fall risk as part of their practice by participating in the “brown bag” Falls Assessment As a Matter of Practice seminar.

View the entire Falls Prevention seminar schedule  and other falls prevention resources:

Isn’t it a good idea to take charge of ensuring we, our families, neighbors, and communities can reduce the incidence and impact of falls? Physical and emotional health, loneliness and isolation, financial stability, and the ability to continue to live independently in our communities of choice depend on it.  Together we can learn to reduce and eliminate falls.

Thank you for standing up for Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for Older Idahoans! Visit the ICOA website for additional information and services to help older Idahoan’s age with safety and dignity.

Emergency Preparedness for Older Adults

Follow these easy steps to make sure you’re protected.

Natural disasters, such as wildfires, floods, and blizzards, may force you to evacuate your home or shelter-in-place at short notice. It is important to know what to do in case of an emergency well before disaster strikes.

If you are an older adult living in the community, you may face some challenges during an emergency. For example, you may have mobility problems, or chronic health conditions, or you may not have any family or friends nearby to support you. Support services that are usually available, such as help from caregivers or in-home health care and meal delivery services, may be unavailable for a period of time. In addition, older adults may experience challenges that come with advanced age, such as hearing or vision problems or cognitive impairment, which may make it difficult to access, understand, and respond to emergency instructions.

You or the person you care for can be prepared for emergency situations by creating a plan, reviewing or practicing it regularly, and keeping an emergency supply kit.

Creating a Plan

The first step in preparing for an emergency is creating a plan. Work with your friends, family, and neighbors to develop a plan that will fit your needs.

  • Choose a contact person who will check on you during a disaster, and decide how you will communicate with each other (for instance, by telephone, knocking on doors). Consider speaking with your neighbors about developing a check-in system together.
  • Create a list of contact information for family members and friends. Leave a copy by your phone(s) and include one in your Emergency Supply Kit.
  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go during an evacuation. If you are living in a retirement or assisted living community, learn what procedures are in place in case of emergencies. Keep a copy of exit routes and meeting places in an easy-to-reach place.
  • Create a care plan and keep a copy in your Emergency Supply Kit. Try out the CDC’s easy-to-use care plan template.
  • If you have medical, transportation, or other access needs during an emergency, consider signing up for SMART911, Code Red, or your local county registry, depending upon which service your area uses to helps first responders identify people who may need assistance right away.

Creating an Emergency Supply Kit

After an emergency, you may not have access to clean water or electricity. Make sure you are prepared with your own supply of food, water, and other items to last for at least 72 hours.

  • Visit for a list of basic items to gather for your Disaster Supply Kit.
  • Medical-Related Items:
    • A 3-day supply of medicine, at a minimum. If medications need to be kept cold, have a cooler and ice packs available.
    • ID band (full name, contact number for family member/caregiver, and allergies)
    • Hearing aids and extra batteries
    • Glasses and/or contacts and contact solution
    • Medical supplies like syringes or extra batteries
    • Information about medical devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen including model numbers and vender.
  • Documents (Keep physical copies in a waterproof bag and take photos of each document for backup):
    • Contact information for family members, doctors, pharmacies and/or caregivers
    • List of all medications, including the exact name of the medicine and the dosage, and contact information for pharmacy and doctor who prescribed medicine
    • List of allergies to food or medicines
    • Copies of medical insurance cards
    • Copies of a photo ID
    • Durable power of attorney and/or medical power of attorney documents, as appropriate.

Taking these steps will put you and/or your caregivers in a better position to deal with emergencies that may require you to evacuate or shelter in place.  Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for information on senior services and resources in your area.

Smoke Ready Idaho

Wildfire smoke will likely be with us through the summer and into the fall. Here’s what you need to know.

Wildfire smoke can cause irritating symptoms for healthy people and more serious health issues for people with respiratory problems and heart and lung disease. It’s important to know how to protect yourself and your family from smoky air whenever possible.

Who is most at risk for the harmful effects of smoke?

Infants and young children suffer more from the effects of smoke because they breathe more air than adults for their body size. Older adults and people with lung and heart conditions are also especially sensitive to smoke in the air. Even low levels of smoke can cause breathing problems for sensitive groups with asthma, COPD, emphysema, and other chronic lung diseases.  In addition, smoke can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke for people with chronic heart conditions and can  increase the risk of premature birth in pregnant women.

When should we become concerned about the symptoms of smoke exposure? 

Common effects of smoke exposure include irritated eyes, nose, and throat. However, you should call your doctor immediately if you have shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, headaches, fatigue, or a combination of those symptoms that become severe.

What if I have an event outside or my child has a game we can’t miss, and the air quality is low?

Visit the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality website or the Idaho Smoke Information Blog to check local smoke conditions. Download the AIR Idaho application on your mobile device for current smoke conditions in your area. The Department of Health and Welfare also provides activity guidelines for outdoor events and other resources to help determine your risk level. If an outdoor event or game isn’t canceled because of smoke conditions, drink plenty of water and do your best to limit your time outside. If smoke-related symptoms become difficult or get a lot worse, move indoors. Your family’s health is more important than a sporting event.

Should we consider wearing masks when conditions are poor?

While the most effective way to protect yourself from smoke is to stay indoors, we recognize this is not always possible. People who must be outside in the smoky air may benefit from wearing “particulate respirators” or N95 respirators. Respirator masks worn correctly may provide protection by filtering out fine particles in the smoke. However, many people find it difficult to wear a mask correctly. If a mask does not fit properly, it will provide little or no protection. For some, masks can make it harder to breathe normally. It is a good idea to check with your health care provider before using any mask. 

How can we limit our exposure to smoke?

When conditions are poor, you should reduce your time and activities outside as much as possible. Stay indoors, in an air-conditioned area, if you can. If you don’t have air conditioning, go someplace that does, like the mall or library. Otherwise, there are several things you can do to limit the smoky air you breathe:

  • Keep your windows and doors closed.
  • If you have central air conditioning, use an air filter rated MERV 8 or higher and turn the system fan on.
  • If you must drive in smoky areas, keep all windows closed and turn the vehicle airflow to recirculate to reduce the amount of smoke in the vehicle. Use caution and slow down when driving in smoky conditions.
  • Do not add to smoky conditions (e.g., burn candles, use propane/wood-burning stoves, aerosol sprays, smoke tobacco products, or vacuum. All of these and more can increase air pollution indoors.
  • Change air-conditioning filters more frequently as they may become clogged or dirty.
  • Use portable air clearers to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports and health warnings.

Where do I go for more information?

Please visit the resources listed below for up-to-date information on smoke conditions and resources on how to stay healthy during wildfire smoke events:

Brigitta Gruenberg is the Environmental Health Program Manager for the Department of Health and Welfare.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening Idahoans’ health, safety, and independence. Learn more at

Be The Parents Book Club

The Office of Drug Policy and the BSU RADAR Center is excited to present the Be The Parents Book Club, the first in a series of events focused on supporting parents navigating parenting challenges in our modern age. Our first book, “Crazy StressedSaving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter, and the Science of Resilience” by Dr. Michael Bradley focuses on the pre-teen and teen years and provides tools to discourage drug and alcohol experimentation by our youth.

We encourage parents to spend the summer reading Dr. Bradley’s book, submit questions and then join us for a virtual meeting with the author, where he will answer questions submitted by book club members. 

Dr. Bradley has noted that teens are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress related to anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and suicidal behaviors, levels of suffering that mimic those of veterans returning from deployments. Dr. Bradley is not only an experienced adolescent psychologist. He is also a father and a veteran of the US Army. His compassion for parents and teens as they navigate today’s unique struggles is evident in how he interacts with people. 

To find out more and sign up, visit:

Bounce Back from Difficult Times

6 Ways to Nurture Your Resilience

Everyone goes through tough times in life. But many things can help you survive—and even thrive—during stressful periods. Nurturing your body, brain, and social connections can help you bounce back from stress. Use the six strategies below to get you started!

Develop healthy physical habits. Healthy eating, physical activity, and regular sleep can improve your physical and mental health.

Take time for yourself. Make taking care of yourself part of your daily routine. Take time to notice the good moments or do something that you enjoy, like reading a book or listening to music.

Look at problems from different angles. Think of challenging situations as growth opportunities. Try to see the positive side of things. Learn from your mistakes and don’t dwell on them.

Practice gratitude. Take time to note things to be thankful for each day.

Explore your beliefs about the meaning and purpose of life. Think about how to guide your life by the principles that are important to you.

Tap into your social connections and community. Surround yourself with positive, healthy people. Ask friends, family, or trusted members of your community for information or assistance when you need it. Look for cultural practices that you feel help in times of stress.


Humor is Healthy

Laughing is both a physical and mental stress reliever. A good laugh can soothe tension, aid in relaxation, and release feel-good hormones to your brain. Laughter has also been shown to strengthen a person’s immune system and help relieve pain by encouraging the body to release its own natural painkillers. Best of all, out of everything you can do for stress management, laughter takes the least amount of effort and planning. Don’t let a day go by without a moment of laughter!


Smile at those around you. Smiling is the beginning of laughter, and like laughter, it’s contagious. Plus, a smile releases hormones in your brain to lower stress.


Make humor part of the conversation. Ask friends, family members, and co-workers, “What is the funniest thing that happened to you today?”

Laugh at Yourself

Share your embarrassing moments. The best way to take yourself less seriously is to talk about the times when you took yourself too seriously.

‘Kid’ Around

Notice how children play and try to emulate them. They are the experts on being silly, taking life lightly, and laughing at ordinary things.

Laughter is the Best Medicine / Stress Relief from Laughter



We don’t have a recipe for a donut fried chicken sandwich, but we do have lots of other healthy recipes to check out.
April is National Humor Month, so we hope you enjoyed the laugh!

March Madness Movement

Get up and get moving while you cheer on your favorite teams during March Madness! Download the Health Matters March Madness Game Day Workout and follow along at home. Complete an exercise each time you see a player in the game do one of the actions listed. For example, when someone drains a 3-pointer you do 5 squats, and whenever there is a turnover you do 5 jumping jacks. You can also get creative by downloading a blank PDF and filling in your own moves!

National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month! Did you know 100,000 people are currently waiting for a kidney transplant?! With so few organs available for transplantation, living donation is the best way we have to continue to save lives. Living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplantation to another person.

Transplanting organs from a living donor has the following benefits:

  • The quality of organs that are donated by living donors is usually better than organs from deceased donors. These organs last nearly twice as long.
  • The waiting time for a patient needing a transplant can be significantly shorter.
  • The procedure can be scheduled at a time that’s convenient for both the donor and recipient.
  • The time between removing the organ (or part of the organ) and transplanting it in the recipient is less.
  • There is a lower chance of rejection. Also, the organ recipient will need fewer and lower doses of anti-rejection medication.

Living Kidney Donation

Complete a confidential questionnaire to see if you qualify to be a living donor.

Crisis Coping Resources

ComPsych’s Guidance Resources®, the State of Idaho’s Employee Assistance Program provider, has shared the following resources to help cope with the anxiety and stress associated with global crisis and conflict.

Through the Employee Assistance Program, benefit eligible employees and their dependents may receive 1 to 5 visits per person, per issue, per plan year to confidential counseling services with no copayment required. Visit the Office of Group Insurance website to learn more.

Coping with Conflict Guide

  • Dealing with the effects of social upheaval
  • Coping with a traumatic event
  • When anxiety becomes a problem
  • Workplace resiliency in response to political discord
  • Answering questions children have about tragedy
  • Helping children cope with trauma
  • Talking to a child during uncertain times
  • Coping with grief
  • Infographic: coping with stress and anxiety
  • Infographic: when anxiety becomes a problem

Crisis Portal

  • Coping with a traumatic event
  • Coping emotionally after a disaster
  • Talking to a child about a traumatic event
  • What should I do when I am told to evacuate?
  • Coping with grief
  • Coping with a crisis or traumatic event

Coping During Uncertain Times Webinar Recording

People have a powerful need to understand and predict their environments in order to feel in control. When we are exposed to potential threats to our well-being, we naturally respond to this uncertainty with anxiety and fear. This training will address ways of effectively coping with uncertainty and will examine how to remain positive and functional, despite the risks of living in a changing world. Included will be practical tips for coping with uncertainty, re-establishing control, and tips for speaking to children about fear.

4 Mood and Energy Boosters

Your energy levels can be depleted by many factors. The external world is full of distractions, noise, sadness, and stress. It is valuable to remember that you, and only you, are responsible for your mood. Here are some helpful tips to keep your mood and energy levels in check so you can build them back up when they are depleted.


A quick way to inject feelings of happiness and positivity is to include music. Music can provide an instant energy boost and has been used therapeutically in clinical settings for both pain management and emotional well-being. When you are feeling down or just need a dose of happiness, put on your favorite upbeat tunes, and groove your way to a better mood.


It is true, laughter really can be the best medicine! Laughter has been shown to elevate mood, enhance immunity, and even prolong life. These benefits come from hearing laughter, having expectations of laughter or fun, and by the act of laughing itself.


Affirmations are phrases that you repeat to change, increase, or improve your state of mind. The power of affirmations is not in the words themselves, but the practice of visualizing a different reality. When you combine intentional actions with the refreshed mindset from your affirmations, you will find you can accomplish great things.

Good Deeds

When you do something nice for someone, it turns your focus away from yourself and your concerns and allows you to focus on helping somebody else feel good. Spreading kindness is the best way to spread happiness. Something as simple as a compliment, a kind word, or an act of generosity can start a positive domino effect of positive feelings.

Source: WELCOA’s COVID-19 Employee Education Toolkit: “Acknowledging and Lifting Your Mood and Energy Level

Parent CRAFT Newsletter

Parent CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach Family Training) is a fast-paced interactive video-based course designed to help cope with tough topics such as youth substance abuse. The course is based on the proven CRAFT method, offers professional guidance throughout, and provides real-world examples of parents interacting with their child, before and after applying the CRAFT method.

This is a great opportunity for parents or caregivers throughout Idaho to learn techniques that may help them better communicate with their children when addressing issues like substance abuse. Counselors, juvenile services, youth advocates, etc. can offer this absolutely free resource to parents that they can access from the comfort of their own home.

Visit and follow the Parent CRAFT link to gain access. As of now, this access will be available through 2022 so please share this information and encourage as many parents as possible to take advantage of this great opportunity.  

Radon: Fact or Fiction?

Did you know radon is present in many Idaho homes? The Idaho Environmental Health Program within the Division of Public Health manages the Idaho Radon Program. Below is information to separate radon facts from fiction and help keep your family healthy.

FACT: All homes should be tested for radon.

Radon is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste. It enters homes through gaps or cracks in the foundation. All homes, including new builds, existing homes, and those with and without basements, can have high levels of radon gas. With more people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of radon exposure may be increased as more time is spent within the home. 

Testing is easy and is the only way to know if you are being exposed to radon in your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing your home every two years or after any remodeling.

 You can order a FREE short-term test kit from or call the Idaho Careline at 2-1-1 or 1-800-247-2435.

FICTION: Radon is not an issue where I live.

Two out of every five homes tested in Idaho have higher than the recommended levels for radon. In fact, high radon levels have been found in every county in the state. To learn more about radon test results and recommended actions, visit  You can also view Idaho radon test results by zip code on an interactive map and order a FREE short-term test kit.

FICTION: Radon is not harmful to my health.

Long-term exposure to radon gas is known to cause lung cancer and is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. To learn more about the health effects of radon, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Health Risk of Radon website at

FACT: Winter is the best time to test a home for radon.

Radon levels can change by season and with the weather. The highest levels of radon are found during the winter months when homes get less fresh air. To learn more about radon testing and how to respond to a radon problem, visit

FACT: A radon problem can be solved!

Radon mitigation systems can effectively reduce the levels of radon in a home. The Idaho Radon Program recommends hiring a nationally-certified radon professional to fix your home. To locate a radon professional, visit   

The Idaho Radon Program is offering a free two-hour interactive radon workshop that will explain what radon is, how it enters your home, and what you can do to help prevent excessive exposure and reduce your risk of lung cancer.  To register, please visit

  • January 18, 2022 at 1pm-3pm MT Virtual Online
  • January 20, 2022 at 9am-11am MT City of Hailey, Council Chambers (*in-person masks required)
  • January 25, 2022 at 9am-11am MT Virtual Online
  • February 3, 2022 at 9am-11am MT Idaho Falls Building Department (*in-person masks required)
  • February 17, 2022 at 1pm-3pm MT Virtual Online

If you have questions or need more information, contact the Idaho Radon Program at 1-800-445-8647 or

The 12 Ways to Wellness

The 12 Ways to Wellness

Sung to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas

The first way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The second way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The third way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The fourth way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The fifth way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The sixth way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Eat fruits and veggies, prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The seventh way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Understand your value, eat fruits and veggies, prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The eighth way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Make time for self-care, understand your value, eat fruits and veggies, prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The ninth way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Get vaccinated, make time for self-care, understand your value, eat fruits and veggies, prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The tenth way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Plan a vacation, get vaccinated, make time for self-care, understand your value, eat fruits and veggies, prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The eleventh way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Use good ergonomics, plan a vacation, get vaccinated, make time for self-care, understand your value, eat fruits and veggies, prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

The twelfth way to wellness said Health Matters to me,
Build a social network, use good ergonomics, plan a vacation, get vaccinated, make time for self-care, understand your value, eat fruits and veggies, prioritize your sleeeeeeeeeep, move your body daily, drink water, manage your stress, and wash hands to be safe and healthy!

Thanksgiving Veggie Sides