Stop Worrying About Senior Safety!
Senior Safety should be monitored inside and outside the home as there are hazards we might not be aware of. After years of working hard, raising families and dealing with the hustle and bustle of daily life many seniors wish to relax, age gracefully and live healthy, fulfilling lives. Seniors prefer to stay in the comfort of their home during their later years but unfortunately encounter a number of obstacles. As they grow older an increasing number of seniors experience health conditions, physical illnesses, and pain. At the same time, their social circles become smaller, especially after retirement. Their ability to do things on their own becomes increasingly limited and they start requiring more help from family and outside organizations. The following is a list of signs that your loved one may need additional assistance in order to stay or age well in the comfort of their homes.
The Ups and Downs of having Physical Disabilities
Many elderly persons experience mobility or movement challenges at some point in their lives. Some of the movement difficulties you may have noticed in your loved one may involve:
- Getting in and out of bed and moving to and from the washroom
- Sitting down and getting up out of their chair
- Getting in and out of their car
- Walking to and from a store
- Climbing up and down staircases and or moving easily about the house
- Bending to move heavy items
- Problems with manual dexterity (moving their hands)
Difficulty moving can be associated with many health conditions such as illness, decreased muscle mass, arthritis, joint pain, an increase in bone fragility, recent operations or injury to certain body areas.
Seniors experiencing such difficulties can benefit hugely from changes to their environments such as the installation of home care appliances and be using devices including chairs that are easier to move in and out of, wheelchairs, walkers or canes. You may also want to consider moving high use items from cabinets and shelves to the counter so that they are easier for your loved one to access.
Harmony Caregiving’s professional staff can offer additional advice and suggestions on how to change/modify the home environment so that it is safer for your elderly loved one. As many seniors will continue to have mobility and movement challenges for some time it will be beneficial to have a caregiver provide assistance to such persons as they go about their daily tasks. Harmony’s caregivers can provide services such as transportation, shopping, and errand running.
The Downside of Falling
Indoor and outdoor senior safety considerations when assisting your loved one. As seniors age, they are at an increased risk for falling and having accidents within the home or outside. Falls can occur at any place and at any time. Seniors can trip over uneven rugs, on wet or smooth floor surfaces and in places where there may be clutter or furniture that blocks their movements.
Seniors are more prone toward falls and accidents due to several health conditions including difficulties with balance, sight, hearing, decreased bone or muscle mass, loss of memory, problems with attention and/or disorientation from medications. Persons with dementia are especially at risk for having accidents as they have lost many abilities to think clearly and understand their surroundings. When a senior falls, injuries can be devastating due to their fragile bones. A senior in good health can begin to deteriorate both physically and emotionally after just one fall. The statistics regarding seniors falling are both startling and staggering.
According to www.learnnottofall.com around a third of seniors above age 65 and over fifty percent of seniors age 80 or older experience a fall each year. More than half of the elderly who have fall-related hip fractures will fall again within a span of six months. There are major repercussions to falling, with up to forty percent of admissions to nursing homes resulting from falls and “40 percent of those admitted do not return to independent living”.
You can help prevent falls and accidents by going through the house and removing or modifying potential hazards.
Senior Safety Tips To Prevent Falls Occurring Inside the House
There are many dangers that we might not be aware of inside our home. Here are some senior safety tips to decrease the chances of injuries.
- Line rugs and secure the corners to the ground in order to prevent a senior from slipping or tripping.
- Remove chairs with wheels and rocking recliners as seniors can lose their balance and fall down while trying to sit on them. If it is not possible to remove these pieces of furniture, ensure that they are placed on carpet and have a barricade behind them like a wall to prevent them from rolling away as the senior attempts to sit. In the case of a rocking recliner, it may help to have the seat lined with a non-slip fabric.
- Equipping the bathroom with secure hand rails or bars, anti-slip bath mats, bathtub seating and raised toilet seats can help your loved one when toileting or bathing.
- Purchase bath products that are easy to open, use and do not become very slippery when mixed with water. For instance, a number of bath and cleaning products are filled with moisturizers that can make the bathtub floor very slippery and thus difficult for seniors to maintain their balance. It is better that seniors use moisturizing products when outside the bathroom like their in their bedroom instead.
- Installation of a stair lift may be beneficial if your senior family member has difficulty with movement. If this is not a viable option have the seniors belongings moved to the main level of the home to prevent them from having to climb stairs.
- Rearrange furniture in rooms to create wide open pathways, accessible by a wheelchair or walker, to help your loved one move from one area to another unimpeded. Creating such pathways to and from your loved one’s bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and front/back doors are of particular importance.
- A pair of indoor shoes with good grips/treads is a must for persons who live in homes with smooth or slippery flooring. It can also benefit those who are a bit unstable on their feet. Make sure the shoes are easy to put on, take off and fit well so that the person does not trip.
- Have your loved one wear an alarm system (e.g., Phillips Life Line) that they can activate in case they have fallen and need immediate assistance. The sooner your loved one gets help the better their chances of recovery are in the long term.
- Your loved one’s health including vision and hearing should be checked frequently as problems can arise in these areas without the person being aware of them. This may serve as an effective preventative measure for falls and accidents as there are ways of addressing and correcting some of these problems.
Ensuring Senior Safety when Outdoors
- Ensure they have good, sturdy and comfortable footwear during all seasons. Footwear should be easy to put on and take off and should always have good grips on the soles for added traction.
- Purchase a pair ice trackers/cleats that can be slipped over a pair of winter shoes or boots to give your loved one more traction when walking outside during icy weather.
- Be sure to salt or put gravel on the driveway and outdoor paths during wet, icy, and inclement weather. Keep a small light-weight pail and scoop with gravel or salt so your loved one can sprinkle the salt or gravel in front of them as they walk on the driveway or paths outside their house. The salt or gravel can give them some added traction on slippery surfaces.
- Acquire a handicapped placard that can be visibly placed in your loved one’s car. This allows them to park in disabled parking stalls/ zones. These can be administered by motor vehicle registries
- To prevent falls when your loved one is using the car a variety of gadgets and devices can be purchased such as a driving stand or hand bar, a car cane and car transfer aids
For more information about additional senior safety concerns affecting seniors please stay tuned for our next article Is Your Loved One Falling Apart at Home Part II concerning fire hazards, house cleaning and home repair. Contact a senior safety pro at Harmony Caregiving by calling (780) 328 3917 for a free complimentary in-home consultation. Our trained and certified caregivers for seniors will help your loved one enjoy a happy lifestyle in the comfort of their own home.