Thursday March 6, 2014
Add this to the list of surprising statistics: Falls now cause more spinal cord injuries than motor vehicle accidents. And the difference is significant -- 41.5% for falls versus 35.5% for vehicle mishaps. Another startling statistic: Treatment and rehabilitation can run into the millions of dollars for a single individual with a traumatic spinal cord injury.
The Johns Hopkins study suggests that one of the factors at work is our aging population. I'm sure that's true. I'm more prone to falling than I used to be, or at least I'm less able to recover when I start to fall. Since I know this about myself, I always use handrails on stairs, and I try to keep the floor clear of objects I could trip on. I have tried to train the grandchildren to keep their shoes and toys out of walkways, with mixed success. I've also pointed out to them that something small on the floor, such as a piece of ice or a marble, could cause a bad fall.
According to many researchers, however, the best way to prevent falls is to increase strength. That doesn't necessarily mean pumping iron, although weight training can be helpful. Exercises such as Pilates, yoga and tai chi are even better. They improve balance and increase flexibility as well as adding muscle strength.
Do you have strategies for avoiding falls? Add a comment below.
Wednesday March 5, 2014
Yes, we're that kind of family. My grandkids got owl pellets for Christmas. In case you didn't know, owl pellets are composed of the indigestible materials ingested by owls, who regurgitate them after a meal. Pellets are mostly compacted hair with tiny bones buried inside. The companies that sell the pellets, which have been sterilized for safety, also send along a bone identification chart.
Sometimes children will be initially put off by this project, but inevitably they are drawn in. It's fun to try to identify the bones, and they are so tiny and delicate that they are fascinating to look at.
Learn more about nature activities to do with the grandchildren.
Photo © S. Adcox
Monday March 3, 2014
A new round of price increases may have parents and especially grandparents (who may be more frugal) cutting back on visits to some classic theme parks.
As reported by our Theme Park Expert, Arthur Levine, a $100 bill will no longer cover a one-day admission to the Magic Kingdom. The ticket price of $99 rises to over $105 with tax. The other three Disney parks in Florida will stay at $94 for now, but that is still over $100 with tax.
Universal Orlando soon followed suit, raising a one-day adult ticket to $96 for Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure.
Of course, single-day ticket prices are traditionally kept high to encourage families to buy multi-day passes. Also, Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood are still a bit cheaper than the Florida parks. But it goes without saying that ticket prices are just the beginning of theme park expenditures. The cost of food, lodging, souvenirs and special experiences can make entrance fees look like a mere pittance.
Disney does so many things well that it's still the gold standard in theme parks, followed closely by Universal. But some budget-minded families may ditch theme park vacations in favor of more economical options, such as visiting zoos and museums. And other families are simply being priced out of the theme park market.
How do you feel about theme park ticket prices? Will they make you less likely to visit a theme park with your grandchildren?
Sunday March 2, 2014
All religions that I am acquainted with honor grandparents, but there is something kind of special going on among Catholics. Grandparents are coming together to make pilgrimages and pray for their grandchildren.
This movement began with Catherine Wiley, who lived a mile away from the English National Shrine of Our Lady. As she watched various groups visiting the shrine, she had the idea of organizing a grandparents' pilgrimage. The first one occurred on July 26, 2003. The date coincides with the feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne, believed to be the parents of Mary and thus the grandparents of Jesus.
When Wiley and her husband moved to Ireland, she organized a pilgrimage to the Irish National Shrine of Our Lady at Knock. The first pilgrimage to Knock took place in 2007. In 2009 the Catholic Grandparents Association was founded, Pilgrimages are now held in the UK, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Malta and the United States, and are in the planning stages in other countries.
More information is available on the Catholic Grandparents' Association webpage.