HORSE’S MOUTH: Reduce the Risk of Falling

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

The past two Saturdays I attended events at which Bacon Sakatani held the microphone. The one two weeks ago was, of course, the Japanese American Korean War Veterans luncheon at the Sea Empress Chinese restaurant in Gardena.

This past Saturday was at the Montebello Country Club, where those involved in putting together the reunion of wartime residents of Santa Anita Race Track met to iron out the plan for Japanese Americans who were interned  at the Arcadia facility at the start of World War II.

Bacon is arranging the event, in which I will also be involved.

Those planning to attend can send their names and addresses to Bacon at his email address: [email protected]

I received a dozen names but none sent me any addresses, so I am asking them to contact Bacon.

The date of this year’s event will be March 29, which will be a bit special since the featured race on that date will be the Tokyo City Cup race, which means, of course, that quite a few Japanese Americans will attend. We can combine it with the “assembly center” reunion.

Those of you who contact Bacon will get all the information needed to sign up for the event.

Since nearly 70 years have passed since we were incarcerated at the famed race track. The total number of those left is pretty thin, but a lot of the offspring of the assembly center internees will probably want to attend the event, which will include a buffet luncheon at the Club House dining facility.

From past experience, I can say that it’s a real fun day, even if you are not a horse-racing fan.

I will contact Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who helped me get the plaque put up to recognize the race track as the site where JAs were incarcerated before we were shipped off to relocation camps. In my case, to Heart Mountain near Cody, Wyoming.

We JAs can honor Mike for his joining in with me to get the track to honor all the JAs who were put into what was then called an “assembly center.”

This event is probably the only one in which the JAs can relate to the early days of WWII when we were considered “Japanese” rather than Americans of Japanese ancestry, so join us.

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Okay, let me get on with the rest of today’s column.

As most of us know, you can call many big cities in the U.S. by their nicknames and people will know which city you are talking about.

Examples: The Big Apple, the Big Easy and Sin City. Sin City, of course, is Las Vegas.

Vegas is trying to lure the 2016 Republican National Convention with a promotional video that pushes the area as a down-to-earth city, not Sin City.

With nearly 40 million visitors a year making their way to Vegas, the new marketing plan must be working.

For the record, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority doesn’t use “Sin City” to market the area as a destination.

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A few weeks ago I wrote about falling down and having to go to the hospital.

At the time I didn’t give it much thought, but since that time I’ve come across several articles that touched on the matter of falling as one ages, something I didn’t consider in my case.

One such article had the heading, “Reduce the Risk of Falling for Ages 40 and Up.” Everyone in the reading audience knows I fit into the “40 and up” category.

The article begins: “One of the main health concerns of elderly people (most Nisei) is falling, which is often related to poor balance. In fact, many studies show that people begin to have balance problems starting at the age of 40 years. The older you get, the weaker your physical body and sensory abilities will be, which are all factors in having poor balance.

“In Japan, more than 7,000 people a year die from falling accidents, which already exceeds the number of traffic accidents.

“How does one in our age bracket test our balance?

“One can determine how good your balance is by measuring the length of time that you can stand on one leg.

“The following table shows the average balance by age group in a study by a health institute:

“Average time with the eyes open:

20-39 years old: 110 seconds

40-49: 64 seconds

50-59: 36 seconds

60-69: 25 seconds

“Average time with eyes closed:

20-39 years old: 12 seconds

40-49: 7 seconds

50-59: 5 seconds

60-69: less than 3 seconds

“If your balance time is below average, then you’ll have higher risk of falls, or slipping and tripping.

“In the above study, women tend to lose their balance more than men but by only a small margin. From the study, it is also evident that there’s a sudden significant decrease in the ability to main balance among middle-aged people (40 years and above).

“Take note that the numbers stated above are only average. There are people who were able to maintain balance much longer and there are also those who were only able to maintain their balance for a much shorter time regardless of age and gender. The reason why they vary is explained as follows:

“The soles of your feet have sensors. The skin all throughout your body has a significant amount of tiny pressure sensors or mechanoreceptors. Some areas have few pressure sensors, while other areas have thousands, like on the soles of your feet.

“The pressure sensors on the foot sole provide information to your brain to help balance your body. As you get older, the sensors will get weaker and your foot soles lose sensitivity. But there are also other factors that can lead to weaker pressure sensors.

“Poor blood circulation can disrupt the pressure sensors. In the study, people are almost twice as likely to be in a fall accident caused by poor blood circulation.

“This can be simulated by soaking your feet into ice cold water for about three minutes. Because of cold temperatures, the pressure sensors on the foot sole begin to lose sensitivity.

“Pay attention to your forward-moving foot. If your forward-moving foot hits something, your body will be off-balance, causing you to fall or trip.

“Remember the old adages ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ and ‘Look before you leap.’

“You might think that your feet do not need exercise or stretching compared to other parts of your body, but in reality, feet-stretching exercise can really help feet maintain balance.”

Gee, I sure wish I saw this piece before I fell on my face about a month ago and spent time in a hospital.

Hopefully, many of you who are my age can read this piece over and over and avoid what happened to me.

I’m kind of surprised nobody at the hospital gave me the foregoing information.

Oh well, when I saw my hospital bill, I kind of understood why. They may be waiting for me to fall on my face again. Heh, heh.

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Oh, my gosh. I thought the previous piece I wrote was the end of today’s column because when I wrote last Tuesday’s  “Mouth,” my computer told me I was almost out of ink. I told myself I’d better go to the ink store and stock up.

Well, one thing led to another and I forgot all about my ink shortage until I was halfway through with today’s chatter, when my printer went blank. Then I suddenly realized that today is Sunday and my ink supply store is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

I guess as they say in the boxing business, “I threw in the towel.”

Then my wife said, “Isn’t Office Depot open on Sundays?” She was right.

One thing. Office Depot charges a lot more for ink than my usual purchase place, but I needed the ink, so I jumped in my car and drove to the store in Torrance.

Yeah, it cost me about 10 bucks more, but that’s life.

So I’m able to continue on today, instead of having to call Editor Gwen to tell her I would be falling short with my column.

Maybe I should have fallen on my head again.

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If Bacon Sakatani is tuned into today’s column, here’s a bit of good news for him.

As I mentioned at the start of today’s column, Bacon is taking over the preparation for this year’s Santa Anita Reunion.

He will be happy to know that I just received an email from a reader who wrote the following: “Hi, Horse’s Mouth — Can you publish information on the Santa Anita Reunion again? Our kids threw out the Rafu with information in it about the reunion.

“I can get a group of 50 people for your reunion. I’ll get the information to you so we can join the reunion.”

Wow! 50 people. Heck, Bacon won’t have to work too hard to gather up people if this one person can get 50 to sign up.

Will send the reader’s email to Bacon so he can follow up on it.

In the meanwhile, let me remind folks who are planning to join us at Santa Anita to send in their names and addresses so that we can prepare things like how many will be dining at the buffet and how many seats we need in the Club House.

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Yes, I’m a sumo fan, so I keep track of the tournaments in Japan.

The latest tournament was won by Hakuho, the grand champion, who lost in the final match and had to go to a play-off, which he won to claim the New Year Tournament title.

As one of my friends told me, “Man, sometimes I think sumo in Japan is like pro wrestling. You know. The outcome is arranged before hand.”

Yeah, I’ve heard that before about sumo.

After all, the sumo wrestlers are all members of the Sumo Association and are under its control.

Oh well, maybe someone will say, “Horse, are you nuts? Sumo is sumo and they can’t be compared to professional wrestling in the U.S.”

Okay, I’ll forget I said that.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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