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.
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
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?
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.
More grandparents now live in storybook land.
A study published in 1980 showed very few older characters in children's books. The older characters that did appear, even grandparents, were often shown in a negative light.
Grandparents are now making more positive and more frequent appearances in children's literature, according to a University of Florida study . The trend may be traceable to the fact that grandparents are living longer and healthier lives and thus are more positive presences in the lives of children.
Recently I was delighted to discover these three books about grandparents published by Barefoot Books.
- My Granny Went to Market, a whimsical counting book
- The Journey Home From Grandpa's, with a sing-along CD
- Grandpa's Garden, a informative but readable book about a grandfather and grandson gardening together
I need a little more time to decide whether these belong on my list of favorite kids' books about grandparents. What's on your list?
Photo © Barefoot Books
I guess it's because it's been a long, hard winter. All of my friends who are gardening enthusiasts are dying to get their hands in the earth, and those of us who are halfhearted gardeners are feeling the urge as well.
I'm in the halfhearted camp myself, but I must admit that gardening with grandchildren is a lot more fun than gardening alone. The grandkids and I may not create a vegetable garden this year, but I'm sure we'll be doing some mini garden projects.
What gardening projects do you have planned? Leave a comment below.
Photo © Susan Adcox
I like to visit mommy blogs just to experience how much mothering has changed since I was a mom. Let me tell you. Baby wipe warmers are just the beginning.
Most of the moms who post seem like devoted mothers trying hard to be good parents. But they are also a bit more, um, take-charge than I ever was. On the subject of grandparent names, for example, one writer on BabyCenter advises: "Perhaps your parents and in-laws aren't the best namers, or maybe you just prefer to name them yourself. No problem - take the reins!" On another website, a mother-to-be confides, "I'm allowing the grandparents to pick out the names they would like to be called."
I would have never dreamed of telling my parents or in-laws what grandparent names they should use. But apparently who gets to name grandma is a valid question, as well as being the name of a book by my friend Carol Covin.
That's why most of my FAQs about grandparent names revolve around who chooses. Here's my take: Grandparents get to choose their names, but parents get veto rights.
Of course, most grandparent names end up being chosen by a grandchild, and there is seldom any conflict over those choices.
How did you get your grandparent name? Leave a comment below.
Photo © Peter Augustin / Getty
I've spent the evening immersed in family conflict. Intense family conflict. Thank goodness it's not my family.
After getting an unusual number of reader submissions from estranged grandparents, I became curious about the family dynamics involved. I scanned through the submissions. Based on this admittedly unscientific survey, I found that when grandparents are cut off from contact with their grandchildren, they usually place blame on one or the other of the parents. Rarely do they blame both equally. (It's even rarer for them to blame themselves. But that's another story.) Overwhelmingly the mother of the grandchildren is the person blamed -- around five times more often than the father. And daughters are just as likely to be blamed as daughters-in-law.
Readers were not required to state their gender, but given the overall readership of my site, I'm sure that almost all were grandmothers. So we have lots of mother-daughter conflicts and a roughly equal number of conflicts between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.
Experts aren't sure why female family relationships engender such fierce showdowns, but territoriality is partly to blame. Women tend to be very invested in their homes and families and take all challenges to that turf seriously. Also, when I was researching my article about mother-daughter relationships, I learned that what women fear most is being left out. That means that every woman who is a part of a family circle has a potent weapon to use against other women in the family. Too many women make use of that weapon.
One more thing I noticed: Very few grandparents complained about their sons-in-law. That was sort of unexpected. But sons-in-law, apparently, are golden.
Do you have any insights to offer? Leave a comment below.
Photo © Digital Vision / Getty Images
Are you ready for springtime? This picture of a little one enjoying a stroll will surely get you in the mood.
What's the first thing that you want to do with the kids or grandkids when the weather gets warmer?
Photo © M. Bonin
Researchers who are studying the learning gap between low socioeconomic kids and their peers have identified a crucial component: child-directed speech. Parents who talk directly to their children, starting in infancy, have more academically successful children. Overheard conversation doesn't have the same effect, according to the research carried out at Stanford.
Why would parents not talk to their children? The researchers aren't tackling that question, but it's easy to postulate that parents who are stressed out and overextended are less likely to converse with their children. Also, some parents may wrongly feel that children who are too young to carry on a conversation won't benefit from being talked to.
Reading to children is also important. Literacy studies have shown that the amount of reading material in a home is an excellent predictor of academic success.
I'm a big proponent of grandparents helping their grandchildren succeed in school. But it turns out that grandparents can help a lot before their grandchildren start to school. It's easy:
- Talk to your grandchildren, even when you think they won't understand what you are saying.
- Also sing, play peek-a-boo and do counting rhymes. Then name colors, animals and objects.
- Buy books for your grandchildren, and maybe a magazine subscription, too.
- Read to your grandchildren.
Don't you love it when the things you like to do turn out to be great for the ones you love?
Photo © James Quigley / Getty
Books for Grandchildren: