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Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor Air Pollution

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…about Indoor Air Pollution


Q:  Mr. Pedometer, is indoor air pollution a real heath problem?

A: Indoor air pollution can be a health problem, particularly in wintertime.  The Consumer Reports on Health ( shared these ideas about how to stay healthier:

  • VENT YOUR COOKING RANGE – “…The process of cooking food can also pollute your air.  But using your range hood, as long as it vents to the outdoors, can significantly reduce the amounts of pollutants you’re exposed to indoors, according to a 2014 study.”

  • KEEP FILTERS CLEAN – “If you use a forced-air cooling and heating system, using the right filter and changing it regularly (based in manufacturers’ recommendations) are key to keeping the air in your home clean.”

  • CONSIDER AN AIR PURIFIER – “Don’t have central heating and air?  A portable air purifier can also pull dust and smoke from the air.  Be sure to buy one designed for the size of the room in which you’ll be placing it.”
  • LEAVE THE FIREPLACE UNIT UNLIT – Ask Mr Pedometer and Friends about indoor air pollution - pic of an unused fireplaceA crackling fire might feel festive, but its smoke can pollute home air.  It’s best to use your in-home heating to keep warm”

  • BAN SMOKING – “Keep cigarette smoke out of your house – it’s a major polluter of indoor air.  Even the emissions from e-cigarettes may expose bystanders to heavy metals and other harmful substances, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

  • USE THE RIGHT VACUUM – “Vacuuming regularly can help with certain allergies, like those to dust mites.  But some vacuums can worsen indoor air, stirring up dust that can contain allergens and harmful particles.  A vacuum with a HEPA filter can help you avoid this pitfall.”

I hope these suggestions can help you combat indoor air pollution and help you stay healthy this winter.  And don’t forget that you can enjoy rain-rinsed winter air by going outdoors to take a walk.


Stomp Out Bullying

Stomp Out Bullying

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…about Bullying

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, I have a young neighbor who has confided in me about her discomfort at the bullying she sees happening at her school.  What kind of advice should I offer her?

A: October is National Bullying Prevention Month Stomp Out Bullying and World Walk To Wellness Ask Mr Pedometer and Friendshere in the USA.  This week I saw a banner over Main Street indicating that our local schools are joining in the national effort to stop bullying among students.  Perhaps we adults could learn from their suggestions as well.  These are ideas from STOMP Out

“Every October, schools and organizations across the country join STOMP Out Bullying™ in observing National Bullying Prevention Month. The goal: encourage schools, communities and organizations to work together to stop bullying and cyberbullying and put an end to hatred and racism by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of all forms of bullying on all children of all ages.

Here is what they suggest individual students can do this month (and forever):

Learn How to Deal with Bullies

First of all, you need to know that you are not alone and the bullying isn’t your fault. If you or someone you know is being bullied, ask an adult for help. Stomp Out will help you learn how to deal with a bully and how to protect yourself and others. Learn how to take the power away from the bully by not reacting to comments and walking away. Read more on how to empower yourself and stop the bullying.

Make friends with someone you don’t know at school

“If you’ve ever been isolated from others at school or you were new at school and it took time to make friends, you know what it feels like to be left out. Or even if you were never isolated, imagine how it would feel.

“Make friends with someone at school who you don’t know. You probably wish someone had done that for you.

“Be a leader. Take action and don’t let anyone at school be in isolation.”

STAND UP for Others

“When you see someone being bullied, be brave and STAND UP for them. Bullies have been known to back off when others stand up for victims.

If you don’t feel safe, get the help of an adult immediately . Be part of the solution — not the problem!

“It’s a time to see everyone’s differences and celebrate their similarities: Whether students are LGBT, African American, Asian, Muslim, AAPI, of Tribal descent or disabled …make friends.”

Perhaps your young neighbor can take comfort in the fact that others of all ages are aware of the bullying problem and taking steps to help correct it.

As adults, we also can take responsibility for inclusion.  (For example, all are welcome to join us as we “Walk ‘n’ Talk” together each weekend.)



What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends….Prevent Falls

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, an elderly (read: older than me) friend of mine fell recently, and now she’s afraid to leave her house, even for short walks.  I’ve told her that inactivity is bad for her, but she is afraid of falling again.  Any advice?

A: Sadly, you both are correct: Assuming that your friend is over 65, once she has fallen, her chances are doubled that she will fall again.  And, as you have warned her, limiting her movement can cause lower body weakness that actually increases her risk of falling.  This is National Fall Prevention Week, and here is some important information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (

Important Facts about Falls

Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.

Falls Are Serious and Costly

  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury,
  • Each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
  • Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
  • Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • In 2015, the total medical costs for falls totaled more than $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75% of these costs.

What Can Happen After a Fall?

Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury. These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.

  • Falls can cause broken bones, like wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
  • Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to make sure they don’t have a brain injury.
  • Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.

What Conditions Make You More Likely to Fall?

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers such as
    • broken or uneven steps, and
    • throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over.

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.

Healthcare providers can help cut down a person’s risk by reducing the fall risk factors listed above.

What You Can Do to Prevent Falls

Falls can be prevented. These are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.

Talk to Your Doctor

  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
  • Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D

Do Strength and Balance Exercises

Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance.

Prevent Falls - Senior Balance exercises by 

Tai Chi is a good example of this kind of exercise.

Have Your Eyes Checked

Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.

If you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.

Make Your Home Safer
  • Get rid of things you could trip over.
  • Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of stairs.
  • Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

“Here are six easy steps you can take today to help your older loved one reduce their risk of a fall: You might be able to help your friend (or yourself!) by following these suggestions from Alameda County’s Life Elder Care (

1. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.

“Ask your older loved one if they’re concerned about falling. Many older adults recognize that falling is a risk, but they believe it won’t happen to them or they won’t get hurt—even if they’ve already fallen in the past…. If they’re concerned about falling, dizziness, or balance, suggest that they discuss it with their health care provider who can assess their risk and suggest programs or services that could help.

2. Discuss their current health conditions.

“Find out if your older loved one is experiencing any problems with managing their own health. Are they having trouble remembering to take their medications—or are they experiencing side effects? Is it getting more difficult for them to do things they used to do easily?

“Also make sure they’re taking advantage of all the preventive benefits now offered under Medicare, such as the Annual Wellness visit. Encourage them to speak openly with their health care provider about all of their concerns.

 3. Ask about their last eye checkup.

“If your older loved one wears glasses, make sure they have a current prescription and they’re using the glasses as advised by their eye doctor.

“Remember that using tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun into darkened buildings and homes. A simple strategy is to change glasses upon entry or stop until their lenses adjust.

“Bifocals also can be problematic on stairs, so it’s important to be cautious. For those already struggling with low vision, consult with a low-vision specialist for ways to make the most of their eyesight.

4. Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair.

“These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist. A trained physical therapist can help your older loved one improve their balance, strength, and gait through exercise. They might also suggest a cane or walker—and provide guidance on how to use these aids. Make sure to follow their advice. Poorly fit aids actually can increase the risk of falling.

5. Talk about their medications.

“If your older loved one is having a hard time keeping track of medicines or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctor and pharmacist. Suggest that they have their medications reviewed each time they get a new prescription.

“Also, beware of non-prescription medications that contain sleep aids—including painkillers with “PM” in their names. These can lead to balance issues and dizziness. If your older loved one is having sleeping problems, encourage them to talk to their doctor or pharmacist about safer alternatives.

6. Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home.

“There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. Here are some examples:

  • Lighting: Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that lighting is readily available when getting up in the middle of the night.
  • Stairs: Make sure there are two secure rails on all stairs.
  • Bathrooms: Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed where your older loved one would actually use them.”

I hope that some of the above information will help you assist your friend in staying safe – and active!


Assembling an Emergency Supply Kit

Assembling an Emergency Supply Kit

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends… about Assembling an Emergency Supply Kit

September 17, 2019

Q: Mr. Pedometer, do you have recommendations for Assembling an Emergency Supply Kit?           

A: Assembling an emergency supply kit should be a priority before an earthquake or other emergency situation. September is National Emergency Preparedness Month.  The theme for 2019 is “Prepared Not Scared.”  Here are more tips (from Bay City News) about how to prepare:

Before an earthquake, some steps to take for safety include strengthening your home, securing FEMA 2019 Ready Logoobjects that might fall and gathering critical documents like identification, legal and medical files, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Assembling an emergency supply kit should also be a priority, and FEMA recommends having these items in the kit:

  • Water: Make sure you have a gallon per person per day for at least three days

  • Food: Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods, including infant formula and pet food
  • Flashlight, radio and cell phone charger
  • Medical: Include a first aid kit and both prescription and over-the-counter medications

  • Sanitation supplies
  • Assistive technology: Include battery backup power for power-dependent mobility devices, oxygen and other assistive technology needs
  • Clothing and blankets

  • Whistle: Include a whistle to signal for help
  • Fire extinguisher

  • Cash: Store cash in case ATMs are not functioning after the earthquake

More information about earthquakes and resources available before, during and after one is available online.  — Bay City News

We all should strive to live up to the motto of “Prepared Not Scared.”  Don’t forget to have extra batteries for your flashlight and your radio.  And having a whistle on your key chain is a good idea for safety even without an earthquake-sized emergency.   Let’s remind one another to move ahead with emergency preparedness – no more procrastinating!



Preparing for a Safe Trip

Preparing for a Safe Trip

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

August 7, 2019

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, instead of plane, boat, or train, I will be traveling by automobile this summer.  Any suggestions for making it a safer trip?     

A: The August edition of Consumer Reports on Health ( has some good suggestions for you to help you have a safe trip:


    “A 2017 AAA study found that about 9 out of 10 older drivers Classic Car for World Walk to Wellness Blog on Safe Tripdon’t make any modifications to their cars that could make driving easier.  These can include handles and grips that can help with getting into and out of the vehicle, convex or multifaceted mirrors that make seeing blind spots easier, or steering wheel covers that make gripping the wheel less painful if you have arthritis in your hands.”


    “Performing a thorough check of your car’s functions can help avoid delays or hazardous situations while you’re on the road.  Check the levels of the oil, coolant, brake, and windshield washer fluids. Check for any wear and tear, cracks, weak spots, or hardened glassy surfaces on hoses and belts; replace any that are damaged.  Make sure the battery terminals and cables are firmly attached, and look through the radiator grill to ensure it’s clear of any obstructions.  Check the pressure in the tires, and add air if needed.  For more pre-trip tips, go to”


    “Older adults are at a higher risk for blood clots, and sitting in a confined space – such as your car – for more than 4 hours can increase your risk of developing a clot in your legs, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  So split up your sitting:  Be sure to take breaks and get up and walk around every few hours, the agency recommends.  Plus, if you are getting drowsy, a break is a good opportunity to take a quick nap, switch drivers, grab a cup of coffee – or all of the above.”


    “A complete first-aid kit should include bandages (clean wounds thoroughly before dressing); anti-histamines for allergies; over-the-counter pain relievers; anti-diarrheal remedies…; antacids; lubricating eye drops; and a thermometer.  And don’t forget to pack insect repellent, sunscreen, tweezers for tick removal, and hand sanitizer.”

  • PACK FOR HEALTH – “Make sure you have enough of all your medications to last you through your whole trip, plus a few days extra in case of any delays, says the CDC.  Ask your insurer for a ‘vacation override” if you need to refill your meds early before you leave.  Be sure to bring along an insurance card, your health-care provider’s contact info, and a list of your medications and dosages.”

  • KEEP SNACKS SAFE – “Keep any perishable snacks (such as cheese or cut fruit) in a cooler; wrap or package meat items separately, and fill in any extra space with ice or cold packs. Store non-perishable items like nuts or dried fruits elsewhere so that you need to limit how many times you need to open the cooler.”

I hope these ideas will help you have a safe and happy road trip!  Take walks wherever your destination.