Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!
This week, Rayna Neises, your host, talks with Kathy Webster. For over 35 years, Kathy has inspired and coached adults to embrace and engage in physical activity. After spending several years as an executive in the corporate wellness field, she launched ShipShape.
Now focused on her true passion, Kathy works one-on-one with older adults to stay safe and strong throughout their aging journey and to age in place within their home or environment of their choice. She shares the following insights:
- Falls account for 25% of hospitalizations and over 40% of nursing home visits. Of those who survive a fall, 50% never return to their previous level of mobility or independence.
- Three E Model for Fall Prevention:
- Physical and mental wellbeing
- In-home safety assessments looking at trip hazards, preventing falls, and lighting
- Care team
- Wellness and wellbeing including nutrition and the normal aging process
- Balance work, mobility, and weight transition
- Learn how to fall, to get up, and to assess if injured
- Incorporate music because it is fun and takes you back in time to a happy place.
- Daily activities to help with balance/strength:
- Stand Up/Sit Down using a sturdy chair.
- Balance by shifting weight and picking up one foot at a time.
- Place one foot in front of the other, narrowing the stride, and work to get closer and closer to a tight rope position.
- Do not think of it as exercise, but instead as simple movements done throughout the day.
- To learn more about Kathy’s services, visit her website at www.shipshaperi.com.
*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation
Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host, and today we have special guests Kathy Webster. For over 35 years, Kathy has immersed herself in inspiring and coaching adults to embrace and engage in physical activity. After 24 years as a business owner and consultant, designing and managing corporate fitness centers, she spent 12 years at an executive in the corporate wellness field. When the opportunity presented itself in early 2018, she took the leap and launched ShipShape. Now focused on her true passion, working one-on-one with individuals, her Mission is to keep older adults safe and strong throughout their aging journey, to age in place within their home or environment of their choice. Kathy is a Certified Senior Home Safety Specialist and Age Safe Advisor Member, senior Exercise Specialist and Dementia Care Certified, and as being recognized as Rhode Island, Senior Safety and Fall Prevention Specialists. Welcome, Kathy I’m so excited to have you here today.
Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.
I love your mission. I was blessed to have a very physically active dad. And I don’t know if you’ve heard some of my stories about him, but in his eighties, with Alzheimer’s, we were still going to the gym three times a week. He was playing volleyball with a bunch of other senior citizens, three times a week. And so physical activity can make such a big difference and I think even as caregivers, oftentimes we forget that we can do this together. We can have this physical active life that both helps the person we’re caring for and for ourselves. I know that’s not always true, not everybody’s active, personality-wise, but for those who can get up and do I love that you’re providing that opportunity. So, after 35 years in that fitness and wellness field with a focus on working within corporations and that healthy adult population, what led you to them focused on older adults and this kind of change in what you’re doing?
Well, first of all, kudos to you and your father. I love that story. I obviously don’t see many of those individuals who are still actively exercising because they’re not in need of my services but remaining physically fit and mobile as we age so very important. And it’s so interesting because I never envisioned myself working in the older adult market. And it’s been such a fun evolution and journey for me. When I first launched ShipShape, I actually had a vision of continuing working with corporations. I had several small clients that I’ve was working with and I was working with the women age 50, who woke up one day and realized, oh my gosh, I’ve been so busy taking care of everybody else I’ve forgotten about myself. I also was focusing on working in Newport. I live very close to Newport, Rhode Island, and the yachting industry. And as you can tell by the name of my business ShipShape we’re very involved in boating. And so, I spent a lot of time during my first summer on big yachts. I’m also certified in Thai Massage. And so I had the opportunity to work with the yachting centers and groups of people that were coming into those yachting centers over the weekend, teaching them group classes and getting individual clients from that experience. Newport is a wonderful area to work because there’s beautiful waterfront parks. And so I love to work outside with my clients and what I found was working outside with my clients I had several older adults approach me with excitement saying, oh my gosh, I love the work that you’re doing. I would love to work with you. And it really just evolved organically like that. I had a couple of clients that approached me who were in their mid-seventies and they were very physically active. They were out walking when they actually saw me working with my clients, but they had friends who really needed my services. One of them had fallen and broken her hip and had just been discharged from her physical therapist and needed somebody to come in and work with her in her home. Another one had a very good friend who was in her mid-eighties who had been diagnosed early-stage Alzheimer’s and her family wanted somebody to come in and continue movement to yoga type of movement and mobility exercises with her. So it really has just been organically evolving and I have found that it’s so very rewarding. And I think mostly from the relationships that I’m building, that these older adults, they have time for building friendships and relationships, and they’re not squeezing me in, in between a meeting and, rushing their kids someplace. They’ve got time. They make time. Then the friendships are very valuable to them. You know, a lot of what I do is provide company and friendships while doing and providing my services.
I think that’s so important for caregivers to help initiate this physical activity and keep the person they’re caring for as mobile as possible because of the fact that we know when the immobility settles in that progresses any struggles that they’re having a lot faster. I love that you’re found the right niche for you, and definitely helps to be able to meet the right people and invest in them because like you said, it is so important to invest in those relationships. Where do you see the biggest need in that older population?
I think what has really surprised me most and keeps me up at night to be quite honest with you is falls. Those over 65, falls account for 25% of all hospitalizations and over 40% of nursing home visits. And of those that survive a fall, 50% never returned to their previous level of mobility or independence. And it’s the leading cause of death for older adults over 65. And falls are preventable. It’s mind-boggling to me that there aren’t more individuals out there focusing on meeting the needs of keeping our older adults safe in their home environments and strong and mobile so that they can prevent falls. It’s been such an interesting journey because I’ve been able to really take all of the experience that I’ve had in 35 years, working with healthy adults and just tweak my model a little bit, working with older adults. So I developed what I call the three E model for Fall Prevention. And it’s really what I did with healthy adults. The first is to evaluate, we need to evaluate their physical and mental wellbeing. Where are they on a scale for mobility? Where is their strengths? Where are their weaknesses? Where is their cognition level? Are they in need of further assistance and support, to support this psychological wellbeing at this time. The second area is really looking at their home environment because the majority of falls occur right within their home, inside a right outside their home. I also am a certified home safety specialist and I do in-home safety assessments. So, I’m looking at everything from trip hazards, for preventing falls, lighting, one of the things that is most mind-boggling to me are the number of older adults. Everybody gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and they don’t have lights on. They don’t have a nightlight on, so they go into their bathroom, turn on the bright light, turn it off, and then try to find their way back to their bed, adjusting to their night vision. So it’s little things like that. Hand bars in the bathrooms, fire hazards. So really taking a full, comprehensive look at their home environment and where they spend their time and making sure that it’s safe for them for fall prevention. And the other area that I really focus on is looking at the care team. It’s never too early to talk to your family and your medical team to put a care team in place. Do these individuals have a physician or a pharmacist who is aware and monitoring and managing all of the medications that they’re on? Do they have a family member who is their health advocate and his attending physician appointments with them? So, I really try to understand who were the other players in their life that I can help support in the services that I provide. Maybe help support them now or in the future, depending on what their time of need is. And the second area is education. So, wellness and wellbeing, those lifestyle components have the same, whether we are children, adults, young adults or older adults. It’s just that our needs vary working in the healthy adult environment. Now more than ever, we’re focused from a nutritional perspective on obesity, but working with older adults, we’re more concerned about malnutrition and underweight. So, it’s educating all of us as to what is the normal aging process in all of these different lifestyle components. And when it falls out of that normal range, what do we need to do to provide the support to care for them? And the third area is to elevate and that’s really the fun part. That’s the programming piece of it. And that’s where I really come in and I take a look at where they are and customize a program for them. We do a lot of focus on balance work and obviously mobility, weight transition. I teach them how to fall. Because statistically, they’re going to, even throw all of the work that we do. I teach them how to get up, how to assess if they’re injured. And it’s really very independent and customized, depending on the individual that I’m working with. I incorporate a lot of music because music is fun. It takes them back in time to their happy time in place. It’s really been the magical piece for me with working with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. It’s just been fun to customize and evolve my programs and services based on what I’m learning from the clients that I’m working with.
The information that you gave us about the fact that the falls with over 65, it’s sad because. Is so often what’s true and wow, 50% don’t even get to go back home because of that fall. And I know my great aunt that was kind of her experience. She took a ball, broke her hip and it really did just change her life. And so preventing that is so important. And like you said, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of conversation around that. But even as caregivers, we again, can impact that significantly by keeping them involved in some of the things you talked about as far as weight transfer and really just the tripping hazards. I mean, so many times we don’t think about it. We think about our house has always been this way. So we just don’t think about what things might become an issue for them and grab bars, dadgum it, why can’t they be nicer looking?
You know what, they’re not bad. It’s amazing now with the different types of products that they have out there. They’re not as bad as they used to be, so, and they can really match the look of the bathroom. So if it’s a stainless steel, we can put in a nice stainless steel. If it’s bronze, copper, they have some that look like the bronze copper. So they’ve come a long way in really helping those types of products. Match the beauty of a home that people want to live in.
I wish that the designers would fall in love with that concept and actually integrate them into a normal phase of our lives so that it didn’t feel like this was you’re getting old. You need a grab bar, you know what I mean? But rather understand that even as a young person, there’s times that you fall and break an ankle and you need that in your bathroom too. Wouldn’t it be nice that they were just built-in part of bathroom? Well, we’ll keep dreaming. But I think so important to really understand how those tools can help. And I know I was talking to a client recently about the fact that her mom was hesitant to take a bath. And I ask some questions and I think there’s more hesitancy, our older generation they feel unsafe without these tools and how much of an impact bringing those tools into their world can really help them feel more comfortable at home as well. So, great
You know, when it’s well, and it’s interesting, they feel unsafe, but they don’t want to be perceived as old
and it’s it’s mind-boggling. I work with a client who’s 88 and she fell and broke her hip. So, I’m doing post-rehab with her. She has a call button, a personal emergency device button, but she doesn’t want anybody to see it because they’ll think she’s old and she doesn’t want to use a walker or cane. People will think she’s old. And that’s because of our society, right? I mean, that’s societal, we as a society need to embrace and really leverage the knowledge and expertise and friendships that we have in our older adults so that they feel more welcomed and comfortable throughout the aging process.
Yeah, normalizing it, normalizing aging period.
a huge goal. And I’m not sure how we even take first steps by just making it more normal and offering it. I think it’s hard for everybody to ask for help, but when you’ve been independent and you find yourself aging, you definitely don’t want to ask for help. So that’s again where I think family can come in and just notice those things, simple things like light bulbs that are in recessed ceilings that are burnout. They’re not going to say, Hey, I can’t change that light bulb. Can you help me? So we have to start thinking of those things and start regularly asking when was the last time we got your fire detector, batteries changed out, just some of the home tasks that allow them to be safe at home, they need assistance with that. And we need to think of that too. When we’re doing things in our own home, we need to think of it for our older loved ones as well.
Right. That’s an excellent point. The older adults don’t want to bother the children because their children have so many other things that they need to focus on. And the children oftentimes don’t want to feel like they’re invading their older adults lifestyle, and we really need to just open up and communicate. If we’re going to support our older adults to grow healthy and strong and safe in their own home environments, we’ve got to communicate much earlier and work as a team.
Right. And I love team is my thing too. We’re on the same page with that. It does take a full team. It doesn’t take one person in the family to do it all. It really takes bringing in experts like you and others to build that team to really help them be successful. So important. So what would you say is your greatest rewards and working with the older, population?
Yeah, it definitely is the friendships. I’ve got clients that are no longer clients actually. I have one woman whose Alzheimer’s so far advanced that the movement piece of it, her family has stopped the client relationship, but I still go visit her once a week because she’s a very dear friend of mine. And it’s really those friendships that are so beautiful. And knowing that I’ve made a difference. In their last days, weeks, months, or years the quality of their life. And the joy that they have in both the, the relationship and in the physical movement. And it’s really, it’s just been so wonderful.
And I love to hear that the dementia also is an area that you found that you can impact because again, I think anytime a person is given a terminal diagnosis, there becomes a shift that it’s all related to that. Our experience in our family, my mom’s shuffled when she walked, my mom also had visual perception issues. So the shuffling was not because of her brain not being able to pick up her feet. The shuffling was her fear of falling. So if I just took her hand and walked alongside her, she pick up her gate and walk normally. And as I mentioned, my dad was an athlete. He loved sports of all kinds and so he never had any of those physical issues. The area of his brain was impacted differently than the area of my mom’s brain. So everything is so different, but I love to hear there are still things that we can do no matter what the diagnosis is. There are things that can help them age and have the best life they can have.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s really been the biggest gift that I could have gotten from this opportunity. So.
Talking to our caregivers, if they’re a primary caregiver for an aging loved one, what would be one thing that you would recommend that they be able to do if they don’t have a resource near them or they’re spending a lot of time with them. So, what would be a simple thing that they can do daily to maybe help with balance or strength or some of those things?
Yeah. Great, great. The top three, I’m going to give you more than one because depending on their mobility really depends on what they can do. If they can stand and I would recommend what I call stand up sit down. And you simply are in a very sturdy chair and they may need to use assistance by pushing up off of the handrails or the back of the chair, the seat, or their thighs, or they may be able to perform it unassisted, but to stand up to a full position. I’m also very focused on posture. And so everything I do, I’m always aware of our posture, continue to open our chest, stretching through our chest and strengthening our back. So to stand up and do an open position and then slowly sit down and that movement is so critical. If you think about our daily living habits, getting up and off the toilet seat. In and out of a car. I mean, all of those things that we take for granted, you need to stay strong in your quads and your buttocks and those muscle areas. So the stand-up sit-downs is a biggy. Another one is simply just practicing balance. And one of the things that I do is I integrate all of the work into their daily routine. So throughout their day, I’m sitting on their shoulder and they’re hearing me say, while I’m making my coffee, Kathy would say, I could be doing my balance here. So While you’re in your kitchen, kitchen counters are a perfect tight because you’ve got something there to help you support yourself and balance if you need it. So to start with the awareness of your weight equally distributed on both feet and simply shifting and picking up one foot. You may only be able to hover it a little bit above the floor for a second or two, but just to practice that weight shift and balance, because that body awareness is very important and to maintain, we forget about the importance of our feet. Our feet are the landmarks to our balance. That’s where everything is grounded. So to really focus on that wait, transition and the feeling throughout your feet. So the balance on one leg is, is a second exercise. The third one would be just that the weight transition. So we all know the circus guys, right on the tight ropes. That’s called a tandem stance where you have one foot in front of the other. And that’s the most challenging position for balance because our center of gravity is very narrow. So to practice narrowing your stride may not be tight rope position, but not as wide as it usually is. Start to challenge yourself a little bit on that balance and transitioning, feel the transition. As you move through those steps and you can do that walking from your bedroom to your bathroom, from your bathroom to your kitchen. So you can really work on incorporating a lot of these things into the daily routine.
That’s awesome. So, caregivers, I hope that that was really something that you can take to heart and to realize how simple it is to integrate that every day and you they’re sitting anyway, you might as well have a little exercise before you eat dinner, you could stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down just five times. You know, something is better than nothing. So, and it is amazing when we have the repetition in there. It doesn’t take as much as we think it does. It’s not like you need to schedule 30 minutes, right? Of doing all of this at one time, we need to do a little bit at a time. And that repetition is going to build strength faster than we realize.
That’s so true. And don’t even think about it as exercise. A lot of people get turned away when they hear exercise. I can’t exercise. You know, I’ve got restrictions, it’s movement it’s simple movement that you’re doing throughout the course of your day. We’re just working it in, in a little different way. But it’s so easy to incorporate that in our daily routines.
Thank you so much for coming and sharing those tips and just giving us a little bit of an idea of even resources that maybe we never even thought about. Nobody thinks of, and you didn’t call yourself this, of a personal trainer for a senior citizen. So, I love that you’re bringing it to that knowledge, to this population. And there are so many people out there that need that. If you’re interested in learning more about Kathy’s business, you can visit Cathy’s email@example.com to learn more about her services and with our COVID world, zoom is an option for you. So definitely check into the things that Kathy has to offer. And I hope caregivers that you really have taken some good notes and have some ideas of things that you can incorporate into your day. Thank you again, Kathy, for being a guest.
Thanks so much for having me. Listeners, just a reminder, A Season of Caring Podcast has been created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, or legal questions, be sure to consult your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.
Personal Trainer and Senior Advocate
For over 35 years Kathy has immersed herself in inspiring and coaching adults to embrace and engage in physical activity. After 24 years as a business owner and consultant, designing and managing corporate fitness centers, she spent 12 years as an executive in the corporate wellness field. When the opportunity presented itself in early 2018, she took the leap and launched ShipShape.
Now focused on her true passion working one-on-one with individuals, her mission is to keep older adults safe and strong throughout their aging journey to age in place within their home or environment of their choice. Kathy is a certified Senior Home Safety Specialist and Age Safe Advisor Member, Senior Exercise Specialist and Dementia Care Certified and is being recognized as Rhode Islands Senior Safety and Fall Prevention Specialist.
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Meet Your Host
Rayna Neises, ACC
Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected