Episode 17 Fitness, Safety, Balance & Hearing with Special Guest Lisa Harris

The Transcript

Dale Johnson: The conversation starts right here every Saturday morning. Dr. Sandra Miller from Complete Hearing is here, complete-hearing.com. Dr. Miller does not wear headphones when she sits in for our radio conversation, but she’s wearing headphones today. And we did a little level-check, a little hearing check-

Dr. Miller:
We did.

Dale Johnson: Which is obvious when you’re sitting next to a doctor of audiology. How did you like my headphone-level when you first sat down?

Dr. Miller: So what I thought was so amazing today is he said, “How does this sound,” and I said, “It is very, very loud. And he said, “Well, this is how loud I have to have it to hear myself,” and I said, “Boy! It must be time for you to have an appointment with me.”

Dale Johnson: So the doctor told me to come in for an appointment, Lisa. That’s how bad my hearing is.

Lisa Harris: I love it.

Dale Johnson: Lisa is Lisa Harris. She joins us from California. She is a registered dietician. She is a fitness professional. She is an international best selling author and speaker. She has so much more. And we have a couple of different conversations that we’re going to share with you, starting today, and continuing the conversation next week with Lisa.

Dale Johnson: People might be wondering, Lisa, what does all of your qualifications on your business card have to do with people’s hearing? And that’s where you and Dr. Miller have this sync going because it makes a lot of difference in someone’s hearing.

Dr. Miller: It really doesn’t. So my favorite thing … And thank you Lisa for being on the phone with us today. It’s such an important thing that we talk about hearing, and we continue to talk about overall wellness and how hearing is a part of your overall health. And so I love that Lisa is here today because she’s done some great work in terms of really making sure that, when you talk about enduring fitness or making sure we’re transforming lives by empowering people, that happens not only through fitness and in health, but it happens through better hearing as well.

Dr. Miller: So I thought it was a great time to just talk about … We’re gearing up for the holidays and we just got done with Thanksgiving and now we’re transitioning into Christmas. And what happens during these times is our families are together. And I thought it was really important to make sure that we’re not just talking about … Yes, it’s important that we have good conversation but what does it mean when people are together and are home together. And you’re inviting people and guests into your home and this could be your parents, your grandparents, your great grandparents. And what does it mean to really have an environment that is not only you safe, number one, but what should we do to be really facilitating the best time together and making sure it’s going to be a quality time together?

Lisa Harris: Can I add real quickly, I only worked with older adults so this is perfect for me?

Dr. Miller: Tell us a little bit about how you work with that population.

Lisa Harris: I teach a chair yoga class at our local senior or center, and I also teach an exercise class for older adults at a dance studio. I rent some space and we have twice weekly exercise classes using small dumbbells. And occasionally I go into seniors’ homes and do some private work with him.

Dr. Miller: Awesome.

Lisa Harris: And that’s where I really get to look at that environment we’re going to be talking about,

Dale Johnson: This is a holiday where people will be traveling. People will be in different environments, office parties, individual parties, visiting other houses, dropping off packages and that sort of thing. So if someone has an issue with balance, it could potentially be dangerous.

Dr. Miller: Exactly. We tell a lot of our patients, when it comes to this time of year it’s really important that … Communication is key, but also the fact of … I think about my mom. So she’s 89. And not only does she have hearing loss, but she has a little bit of dementia. And when that plays a role into … We think about not upsetting her routine too much, and making sure when we get into the home environment that it’s safe for her to move about, that there’s not a lot of things that are going to be in the way, and then communication-wise, making sure that we’re getting her more in an isolated situation so that we can talk to her face to face. I always tell my patients, “It’s not necessarily that people need to talk louder to you. They need to come to the front of you, get your attention, and slow down.”

Dale Johnson: Lisa, talk more about fitness and how it plays a very important role in balance.

Lisa Harris: One in four Americans, aged 65 or older, falls each year. So if you’re in a room with four older folks, chances are one of them is going to take a fall. Every 11 seconds an elder adult is treated in the emergency room and, unfortunately, every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.

Dr. Miller: Oh wow.

Lisa Harris: Yeah. So the statistics are … You know? They’re very loaded against the favor of somebody that’s older, with regards to balance or whatnot. So with the exercise class, what I do is we work a lot on lower body strength so that even if somebody does fall, we can help them get up. And we talk a lot about their environment. So as we were talking about, I can’t tell you the number of older folks that might come to class, where I might see them, and they’ve got a bruise on their face. And I’ll say, “What happened?

Lisa Harris: “Well, I got up and I tripped over my little dog,” or, “I reached over and the chair I was leaning on fell over.”

Lisa Harris: So there’s just a myriad of little accidents that can happen in the home.

Dr. Miller: Exactly. What we find in our office too is the more for the fact, my patient tells me, “ell, my doctor tells me I’m just aging and this is a normal part of the aging process.” And I just tell them, this is absolutely not true. And there’s ways to help you with this, and there’s ways to …”

Dr. Miller: So on the side of, from an audiologist’s standpoint, definitely we’re always looking at hearing, but we’re also assessing balance to see how well they’re doing, and whether they’re getting involved in exercise, or PT, or some type of balance, core stabilization, so that they’re feeling safe. Because what happens when people feel unsteady, they have fear. And then they withdraw, and that leads to so many other things down the road in terms of their social and emotional health.

Lisa Harris: Absolutely. And people also think that if they stay in their homes, they’re not going to fall. But the truth is most falls do occur in the home. So if people are afraid of falling, and they do decide not to go any place, they’re really not doing any good as far as making themselves safer.

Dr. Miller: Exactly, exactly.

Dale Johnson: Let me just open up a little bit to you, Lisa. I have a prosthetic leg. And for me confidence is a big deal.

Dr. Miller: Absolutely.

Dale Johnson: Confidence in where I am, confidence in where I’m going, and the ability for me to be able to get from point-A to point-B. And I can definitely see how fitness would not only help you physically, but also with your confidence level and being able to handle getting from point-A to point-B.

Lisa Harris: Absolutely. One of the reasons I love doing the strength training is that it gives people a feeling of self-efficacy, which is simply what you said: it’s the feeling that, “Hey, I can do it. I can lift. I went from two pounds to three pounds. I can stand up, get out of a chair, without pushing with my hands.” And that makes so much difference. Just that little bit of, “Wow, look at what I can do now.”

Dale Johnson:
You see confidence to Dr. Miller, when someone comes in and you improve their hearing?

Dr. Miller: Absolutely. So a lot of times we find, very much in regards to what happens when people don’t hear well, or they feel unsteady, they start to withdraw like we just talked about. And so when we can go back and empower them with feeling confidence with movement, but not only that, but we tell our patients … Hearing is tied to your balance as well. And so when you’re not aware of your surroundings, and there’s voids in your sound scape and in your environment, that doesn’t do well for you either. And so giving that sense back … Because think about, I always tell my patients you use three things to maintain your balance: you use your somatosensory system, how you feel the floor; you use your inner-ear balance system; and then, of course, you use your vision.

Dr. Miller: So we take all those things into account, but also the fact that you have to be aware of what’s happening around you. And imagine walking around with cotton in your ears and how unsteady you may feel, just because you’re not aware of your environment

Dale Johnson: And because you are in holiday settings, the stimuli around you can detract you.

Dr. Miller: Absolutely.

Lisa Harris: Right.

Dale Johnson: And distract you.

Dr. Miller: Lisa, do you have any suggestions for … Because this is that time of the year when people are having people over, is there some safety things we can think about doing for those people who are engaging into our homes?

Lisa Harris: Absolutely. I would say one of the main things is to look at the floor. Look at throw rugs that are non-slippery.

Dr. Miller: Absolutely.

Lisa Harris: In other words, it’s easy to fall on those. Make sure you have clear paths. And look at extension cords; paper; especially at Christmas, opening presents, make sure there’s no paper around.

Lisa Harris: Small dogs and small children, actually I’ve seen cause a lot of accidents. And it’s just a matter of, maybe you can put the dog in another room or on a leash when grandma’s over.

Lisa Harris: Night lights. A lot of times people have to get up at night. Make sure there’s good night lights.

Lisa Harris: And the one path in the house where a person is most likely to fall is the path between your bedroom and the bathroom, and that really makes sense. So really look at that area and make sure it’s safe.

Dr. Miller: It’s so interesting that it’s one thing you sometimes don’t even think about. Because as a person who may not be dealing with balance, or dealing with those issues when you’re in a new space, absolutely, positively to think about, “How can I best help my guest who’s in my home?”

Dr. Miller:
And then also the person who may be dealing with that fear, of how grateful they’re going to be to you that you thought of them.

Lisa Harris: Or they’re probably not going to ask for help because a lot of times people don’t want to admit that they have some concerns about their balance. So yes, the person who’s hosting this older person really needs to take the lead on this without making grandma or grandpa feel that they have a problem. Just, you know, “Hey, let’s look at the area. Make sure you feel comfortable walking around,” at night, especially.

Dr. Miller: Awesome.

Dale Johnson: Tell us where listeners can access your books.

Lisa Harris: Building Your Enduring Fitness is available online, so you can go to buildingyourenduringfitness.com. So no spaces there: buildingyourenduringfitness.com, and you can order there.

Lisa Harris: Empowering YOU, Transforming Lives! is available on Amazon. But if you’d like a signed copy, please get a hold of me at my website, that is: enduringfitness4u.com.

Dr. Miller: Well, they should have put this on our website as well, so we’ll provide a link to Lisa as well.

Dale Johnson: Lisa, we’ve talked mostly about safety related to the holidays. Can we extend this conversation for next week, and we can talk about health and exercise and how that plays into safety.

Lisa Harris: That sounds great. Yes.

Dale Johnson: Good. Thank you, Dr. Miller, very much.

Dr. Miller: Thank you very much.

Dale Johnson: Every Saturday morning we’re here. The conversation starts here. Check out Complete Hearing at complete-hearing.com, Complete Hearing and 4200 Pioneer Woods Drive in Lincoln. And join us next week for The Conversation Starts Here.