Walk this way – Walk to School

Safe Kids Pima County and FedEx volunteers will join students from Whitmore Elementary and around the county to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 4. International Walk to School Day raises community awareness about walking safety and promoting healthy behavior.

Did you know unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19? Teenagers are now at greatest risk with a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

Whether or not your child’s school is participating, Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator, provides these suggestions for parents:

Teaching kids how to walk safely:

  1. Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across. Teach them to never run or dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  2. Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers. Parents, let your actions speak as loudly as your words.
  3. Encourage your children to be aware of others who may be distracted and speak up when they see someone who is in danger.
  4. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  5. Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  6. Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  7. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  8. Cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Most injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections.

As kids get older, they’re anxious for a little more freedom when walking to school or playing outside. But this is also a time when parents need to stress the importance of the little things big kids should do to stay safe.

Remember you are your child’s first role model. Lead by example:

  1. Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.
  2. When driving, put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until your final destination.
  3. Be especially alert and slow down when driving in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  4. Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

For more resources to help keep your family safe
visit our website.

 

Developing rituals can help build balance

Terri Waldman on developing rituals to balance lifeTerri Waldman, the Director of TMC’s Geropsychiatric Center, was one of the experts interviewed for the Arizona Daily Star’s series on dementia, Hope and Help. Among the stories was one on finding hope. Here is her monthly column on the importance of building ritual.

Every morning, I go for a walk with my dog.

If I miss that walk for some reason, my day just feels a little off.

It’s one of my rituals, along with meditation, that gives shape to my day.

Ritual, which is increasingly recognized as important to our health and wellbeing, is more than merely everyday habit. But to be clear, it also does not have to be reserved for just the sacred and complicated.

Whether we are talking about rituals of religion, families or individuals, those intentional steps we take on a regular basis help remind us about what’s important and help us build a sense of stability in our lives.

When I was a child, bedtime meant my parents would tell each other and their children that they were loved. For me, regardless of family squabbles or anything else that happened during the day, it gave me that sense of continuity. No matter what else I faced, love was not a negotiation.

When you hear “ritual,” there are all kinds of ideas in our head about what that looks like, often involving ceremonial trappings and historical foundations. But it can be as simple as having dinner as a family – a ritual that is growing in importance all the time as we lose some of that precious time to busy lives and technology.

It can be having a cup of coffee on your patio to start your morning. It could be a cup of tea in the evening. It could be a prayer before bed.  It’s any time you carve out that feels good and centering and maybe even healing to you.

In the work I do, I’ve noticed that some people’s lives become imbalanced because they lack structure. Rituals have a way of grounding you. Even if you’re traveling, you can still have that morning coffee or that bedtime tea and feel a sense of structure. Ritual does not have to be rigid. And it doesn’t have to be something handed down through generations – it can be something you create.

If ritual is something you want to more fully develop in your life, you might look at your life to see what you have in it already.  You probably have more of it in your life than you think. If it isn’t obvious to you, you might ask a friend: What do you see in my life that brings me comfort?

You might just start with something simple: Finding 5 minutes of quiet time with your thoughts. It’s easy to click on the TV or the radio for a distraction, but learning to be present with oneself can be a gift. And it might just start with one, simple ritual.

Terri Waldman has more than 20 years of experience in providing services, advocacy and leadership in the field of aging in Pima County. Currently the Director of the TMC Geropsychiatric Center at Handmaker, Waldman received her Masters in Social Work at Arizona State University. She follows her father’s philosophy that five minutes of laughter every day leads to quality in life.

Pets, TV and Chocolate: Potential Sleep Scuttlers

Photo courtesy of N.C. Industrial Commission

You simply are not going to be able to reverse lost sleep by trying to cram it in on the weekends.

“It takes the average person three days to rebound from one night of sleep deprivation,” explained David Sholes, manager of Neurodiagnostics at Tucson Medical Center, which oversees the Sleep Laboratory.

Memorial Day weekend aside, he said, “There are not three days in a weekend, so you’re never going to recover at that rate. You’re better off just keeping a reasonable schedule so your sleep is more consistent.”

With May designated “Better Sleep Month,” Sholes shared some tips on how to get the restorative Zzzzzz’s you need.

Sholes said the brain is built on a circadian rhythm – think of it as your internal body clock. By keeping a regular routine, it knows what time to go to sleep and what time to wake up, and is more likely to transition through the necessary four stages of sleep without interruption. Furthermore, obtaining adequate levels of each stage of sleep is important for restorative sleep.

Other tips include avoiding alcohol and caffeine, including choclate, within five hours of bedtime. Avoid going to bed on an empty stomach and finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime.

A cooler room often improves sleep. And if you can’t fall asleep after 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do some other relaxing activity instead of stewing over your inability to sleep.

Sholes said among his least popular tips: Make sure that your television stays off during sleep time. At the very least, he suggested, set the sleep timer so that it turns off within 20 minutes instead of letting it stay on the entire night. Televisions have fluctuating volumes and lighting, which can cause microarousals without the patient completely waking up. This can make it difficult for patients to transition to deeper stages of sleep or get back to sleep all together.

Also, don’t think sharing the bedroom with your pet will necessarily help with quality sleep. Although many are convinced their pets bring them comfort, Sholes said if the animal is moving around every few hours, it could interrupt the cycle of sleep stages and may do more harm than good.

Sholes suggests keeping a sleep diary for two weeks with the pet, then starting a new diary cycle without the pet to see if any difference is evident. By noting your energy level and the way you feel at wake time and half way through the next day, it will soon become apparent if the pet is significantly disturbing your sleep, he said.

As anyone pulling an all-nighter can attest, bad sleep can impede on quality of life. “It can cause an inability to stay awake during the day, which decreases productivity and can interfere with the lifestyle you want to live. Maybe your friends are going on a hike, but you’re just too tired. Maybe you have some personal goals you want to accomplish, but you can’t seem to motivate yourself,” Sholes said.

Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, can also have significant health impacts, he said, from high blood pressure to diabetes and heart problems.

Tucson Medical Center offers a diagnostic sleep lab with spacious, overnight accommodations to help patients get to the root of their sleeping problems.

Sholes said people tend to diminish the importance of sleep. “It’s entirely under-rated. People think it’s more of an inconvenience than a true health concern, which is alarming,” he said. “Here at TMC, we are trying to educate the community that it can really put your health at risk and prevent you from getting out of life all that you want to get out of it.”

For more information about the Sleep Diagnostic program at TMC, call 324-3318.

Laughter Might Indeed Be the Best Medicine

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Although children laugh unabashedly all day long, adults might be lucky to laugh a dozen times a day.

But those belly laughs might be just what the doctor ordered to relieve the stress of a demanding profession such as nursing.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Gulshan Sethi led an early morning round of laughter therapy Tuesday in honor of National Nurses Week.

While nurses are vital to patient care, Dr. Sethi said, they do face a number of challenges, from dealing with the emotional needs of patients and families to juggling so many tasks that they almost need an extra set of arms.

Noting prolonged exposure to stress can lead to a state of mental and physical exhaustion, the doctor warned that too many nurses opt to leave the profession.

Armed with the knowledge they are in a profession at high-risk for burnout, Dr. Sethi urged the standing-room-only group to learn self-calming techniques. “You need to give yourself time to relax,” he said.

Those techniques can take many forms, from meditation to guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and reciting mantras.

It might include making a conscious effort to breathe. “Most of us don’t know how to breathe right. We do not pay attention to our breath and we take it for granted,” Sethi said, adding most people tend to breathe shallow and fast when they should breathe deeply and quietly.

Meanwhile, he noted, laughing boosts the immune system, relieves tension and helps relax the body. Even faking laughter has therapeutic benefits, since it often prompts the real thing.

“As we get older, there’s so much going on in our brains that we stop laughing,” Dr. Sethi said. “I believe we have to do something to help us laugh again like children.”

Maybe one more reason to dig out those old family photo albums.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461