Be a Community Leader

Be a Community Leader

Shelly Prial

Byline: Shelly Prial

Are you aware of the Keeping Seniors Safe From Falls Act of 2004? I am, because I had a serious fall several years ago and suffered a broken hip. Since that time I have been very cognizant of the dangers facing most senior citizens when they fall. A fall can be a debilitating event, and the consequences for many seniors are devastating.

This piece of legislation, which at my writing was sitting in committee in the House of Representatives, would expand research and education related to falls among older people.

If the bill passes, will it then be illegal for a senior citizen to fall? Preventing “to fall” is something that cannot be legislated. But as DME providers, we should make efforts to educate senior citizens and family caregivers of the risks involved with falls and the steps that can be taken to prevent such accidents from happening.

There are many brochures on home safety and falling that you can easily obtain to distribute to your customers. Make your company a leader by enlightening your clientele about these difficulties – this is the major aim of the bill.

When I speak with my peers, the problem of falling invariably comes up. We all know someone who has experienced this kind of accident. By teaching prevention techniques, your company will be recognized not only by your customers but also by medical professionals – physicians, nurses and EMT squads – as a community leader.

Americans 25 Pounds Heavier Than in 1960

This information was reported in Home Care Monday (Nov. 18, 2004).

I purchased airline tickets to head north from Florida to be with my grandchildren for the holidays. At the airport, I had an interesting chat with some Delta airline personnel. I was really not aware that the added weight of some passengers is a large contributing factor to the increased cost of flying. The airlines are obliged to carry additional fuel to accommodate the weight differential they now have to contend with. Think about just 200 passengers, each 25 pounds heavier, and that number alone accounts for two-and-a-half tons (5,000 pounds) of extra weight on only one flight.

One of the airline employees suggested that I look around at the waiting passengers. She indicated that more than half of them were overweight, and about half of the overweight people were bariatric. That was so, and I was appalled!

When I see the kids waiting for the school bus in the morning as I go to my office, I try to envision what they will look like when they become adults. An average of 25 additional pounds per person in America is a very serious problem and must be addressed.

What Can You Do?

You have a role to fill that can help your customers, gain new ones and build goodwill for your company. Work with a local physician or hospital, and offer to sponsor a seminar on weight control. Tie weight control together with the problem of patients falling. I am sure that with a little planning and publicity, you will draw a crowd.

Here are a few pointers:

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Offer to hold the seminar at a neutral location, such as in a school auditorium.

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Ask your preferred vendors to supply items to use, such as scales, canes or walkers. Be sure to display sphygmomanometers, diabetic items or other products that relate. If you sell vitamins, for instance, include a display.

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If there is a good bookstore in your community, invite their participation with a display offering diet or health cookbooks.

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And, of course, be sure to hand out some identifying trinket with all of your pertinent information to be taken home by the attendees. As the event sponsor, you must earn appreciation for your effort.

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Invite attendees to your showroom, and set aside space for a consultation area so you can sit with your clients. This can be used as a setting not only to speak about weight problems or falls, but also to show and “sell” many of the specialty products you feature.

Sheldon “Shelly” Prial is based in Melbourne, Fla., with Prial Consulting and also serves as the director of government relations for Atlanta-based Graham-Field Health Products. In 1987, he founded the Homecare Providers Co-Op, now part of The VGM Group. He can be reached by e-mail at shelly.prial@worldnet.att.net or by phone at 321/255-3885.

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