Category Archives: Senior Safety

Spread the Warmth – Check Elderly Friends and Family’s Heating this Winter

While the cold winter months can be uncomfortable for all of us, for elderly people, the bitter temperatures pose a serious risk to their health, and even their lives. By sparing a few minutes to check the heating of any elderly friends, family or neighbours you may have, you could be making an incredible difference.

Excess Winter Deaths

Last year, over 31,000 elderly people died as a result of illness stemming from the cold winter weather. This represented a 29% increase on what are known as “excess winter deaths” from last year, a rise which lead to fierce calls for David Cameron to spend money on insulating homes across the country. In March, 1,582 people died every day, which was a 14% increase on the average number.  The stats were worse than those of Finland and Sweden, which gives you an idea of how dangerous these conditions can be to older people.

What You Can Do

Over the course of the winter, checking in with your elderly friends, family or neighbours can make a real difference to their comfort and health. It doesn’t need to be a huge inconvenience to your day; simply popping round to check their heating is functioning and making sure they have suitable warm clothing and blankets is all you need to do. They will greatly appreciate your kindness and help, and it can allow them to be as comfortable as possible during the winter.

Do You Know Any Of These People?

senior-citizens

There are several groups of people who are particularly at risk from the harsh temperatures:

  • People over 75 years old (especially women) who are living on their own/isolated from friends, family or neighbours
  • Sufferers of chronic or severe illnesses, e.g. heart conditions, diabetes, or breathing problems, and mental illnesses
  • People with disabilities or who are bed bound, as they cannot adapt their routine to the cold weather
  • People who suffer from Alzheimer’s – they also will struggle to adapt their routines accordingly

If you have elderly friends or family who you can visit, then please do. Visiting them just once every few days, or even once a week means you can check they have everything they need; heating, food, warm clothing and most of all, comfort. Elderly people are especially vulnerable to illnesses like pneumonia and the flu, so if you can spare a few hours every week to help them out, you could make their lives a lot easier.

How to Outfit Your Home for Your Golden Years

Whether we like it or not, aging is part of our human reality. But growing older doesn’t mean that our favorite activities and places must become off-limits – and for this reason, it is incredibly important to make changes within your home that increase accessibility and keep your body safe. Take time now to think about the kinds of changes you might need to make in your household as you age, and be sure to talk to your loved ones about how you can keep your home safe and your health away from harm’s risk.


Why Home Modifications Are Important for the Elderly

As we age, our bones become more brittle and our muscles weaken – even if we do our best to exercise regularly and eat a proper, balanced diet. Of course, it is incredibly important to continue promoting proper well-being with healthy habits such as engaging in frequent low-impact activity and consuming nutrient-rich foods throughout our golden years. Even something as trivial as broken bone can lead to far more damage for a senior citizen than for a younger person. For example, the risk of infection is far higher, and the length of treatment and healing can be several times as long for the elderly as a result of the changes in their internal biological processes. As such, it is incredibly important that we don’t put our bodies to extreme tests, risking our bodily health to do simple everyday tasks such as reach our belongings, or move freely throughout our home. Home modifications need not be extreme: they just need to provide safety, preventing injury through organizational techniques and mobility aids.

Safety is Key: Balancing Design With Well-Being and Protection

There is no reason that your everyday tasks should put you in harm’s way as a result of the process of aging. For that reason, engineering and design experts have been working together for decades on producing stylish, yet effective, machinery and products that promote health among senior citizens within the home. To begin the process of outfitting your home for your golden years, first meet with a physician who can run physical examination and let you know of your needs based upon your bone and bodily health, your medications, and the other systems you might need throughout the course of your day or week, such as IV drip treatment accessibility or a ventilator machine.

Promoting Mobility Throughout Your Home: Adjustments that Make Your Home Accessible

 

Stairlifts make climbing stairs – a huge problem for those who have arthritis, joint issues, osteoporosis, or other ailments that commonly affect elderly individuals – a reality for many, allowing people to regain access to parts of their house once off-limits because of mobility issues. These stairlifts can be specially designed to fit with the design and decor of nearly any home – which is key, as there should not be any sacrifices that make your home feel like a hospital instead of your own cozy abode. Though you may face some limitations on price, many companies that provide stairlifts are committed to helping you meet your desires for style without sacrificing function. By reviewing at a Stairlift Guide, you can learn what options might best fit your needs according to your doctor’s recommendations and your own understanding of your physical needs.

Additional Comfort Considerations: More Rejuvenating Rest and Relaxation

Many other adjustments can be made within the home to support health as we age – for example, a reclining bed can help to support the spine and delicate muscular tissue that becomes increasingly fragile with age. Sleep and rest should rejuvenate and refresh the body, not cause the mind stress about how to successfully get in and out of bed without falling, tearing muscles, or damaging the spinal cord. Over the course of a lifetime, the vertebrae that make up the spinal cord can become damaged through daily wear and tear, and this can lead to incredible amounts of pain if bodily alignment is not achieved through sleep. With an easily adjustable reclining bed that moves with just the simple touch of a button, you can ensure that your skeleton and musculature will remain aligned and supported throughout a full night of rest. Such beds are available with discounts for many senior citizens through insurance or other medical assistance programs, and they help to prevent up the fluid buildup within the body known as edema, while promoting sound emotional health and mental agility by eliminating sleep disturbances.

Senior Smarts: What You Can Do Now to Prevent Elder Abuse Later

In elementary school, teachers and elders instruct children on how to stay safe, keeping from strangers, abstaining from taking rides, and allowing parents to check Halloween candy before consumption.

As we get older, much older, the propensity for danger rises again. Over 2 million Americans, of all socioeconomic backgrounds, suffer forms of elderly abuse. Elders live with loved ones and keep houses and apartments in protective communities, yet it’s still happening.

Elders may lower their risk of abuse by staying alert, keeping the following information in mind.

Get Finances in Order

Elders are major targets for thieves and financial swindlers; unfortunately, some of the offenders are family and friends. Lower the risk of theft or forgetfulness by having social security and pension checks directly deposited into banking accounts.

If handling expenses becomes too difficult or confusing for an elder, ensure they elect a trusted family member or hire a money manager who will track finances, guaranteeing no bills are late and no deposits go missing.

Survey Home Living

As one gets older, friends, family members, and spouses pass. In some cases, elderly family members only have friends and family of younger generations, feeling displaced, or worse, alone. Older family members may be best suited for living in a communal area, where staff helps with food preparation, shopping, clothes washing, and ambulation.

Discuss options with family members and financial counselors. Both short and long-term options exist; if one senior living place proves to be undesirable, there are other options to explore. However, living completely alone places an elder in an unfortunate and vulnerable position regarding theft and personal safety.

Be Cautious

Seniors are constant targets of frauds; thieves assume elders have money from retirement, get confused quickly, and cannot defend themselves in the event of a robbery or altercation.

In some cases, people may come by posing as collectors for the church or homeless, fooling the elderly into providing financial information. In other cases, swindlers may convince elders they previously promised a donation, and now must own up to their word. Lastly, dastardly thieves “scope” or “case out” living arrangements of the elderly, waiting until they are alone, finally taking advantage by covert or forceful means.

Exact Extra Precaution

Of course, we all need be cautious in a number of safety and financial situations, but statistics show the elderly are at high risk of robbery and forms of abuse. Consider taking extra steps, even erring on the side of caution regarding the following:

  • Ensure elders keep a diary or running dialogue about home nurses and helpers. In worst-case scenarios, a nursing home abuse lawyer may feel the need to file suit.
  • Shred all paper receipts, credit card statements, and financial records no longer needed.  Don’t assume ripped pieces of paper can’t be pieced back together, so robbers may render an account or credit card number; it’s happened.
  • Don’t sign any bank, consultant, or professional service agreements unless one fully understands what it says and presages. In some cases, the elderly are charged more or tied into a long-standing contract they did not fully understand or read before signing.
  • Be wary of offered investments.  Often, elders live on meager wages, smaller than what they had when working full time. Often, swindlers attempt to cajole the elderly into making investments that are too good to be true, and more often than not, they are.

Leonardo Dawson is a paralegal clerk for a small law firm in Minnesota. When he’s not working, he enjoys researching and writing about the field.

 

 

Managing Meds for Patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Sometimes it can seem like a cruel irony: the elderly, particularly those suffering from dementia, senility or Alzheimer’s disease, are often both most in need of medication and most likely to take those medications incorrectly. Mistakes with prescriptions can result in illness and even death, so proper med management for seniors with senility issues is of paramount importance.

Seniors constitute 12% of the population but consume around 35% of all medication. Medication-related problems (MRPs) among the general population are the fourth most costly medical expenditure- only cardiovascular disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s are more expensive. As seniors generally take more prescriptions than the general population, their MRP risk is even more pronounced (in fact, they’re twice as likely to suffer adverse reactions from medications). The key to preventing MPR infirmities within impaired seniors, and everyone else, is organization and knowledge.

Organization to Prevent Overdose (or Underdose)

There are a number of ways to keep organized and informed about the medications a senior struggling with a memory affliction.  Simply being organized can be incredibly helpful and, in some cases, prevent serious injury or death.

  • Pill organizers.  While always a good idea and useful to keep around, a majority of the pill organizers on the market are great for once-a-day medication consumption.  However, since many seniors take a number of medications, often from a number of different doctors and/or pharmacies, pill organizers might not be enough or simply be too basic. Most pill organizers have an AM/PM designation at best, though more elaborate organizers can be found at certain specialty retailers and online (at Amazon.com, for example).  It is best not to rely completely on these types of organizers, so one of the best recourses is to…
  • Make a detailed list. This is also always a good idea and often more important.  A list can be more helpful than an organizer for all the parties involved in the senior’s health. List what medications, supplements, and vitamins a patient is taking and what each medication and supplement is for, when they’re taking it and how often, what doctor prescribed it and what pharmacy filled it, maybe even possible interactions if you’re aware of them, refill dates if necessary, etc. A big piece of doing this successfully involves an effort to…
  • Maintain a relationship and open line of communication with all of a patient’s doctors and pharmacists and between them. Doctors and pharmacists are specially trained to be knowledgeable concerning any meds they prescribe or fill. This should make them the first line of defense against adverse interactions, mitigating uncomfortable side-effects, choosing the best form and dosage of meds, etc. The chances of a patient maintaining healthy medication habits are increased enormously when any doctor or pharmacist working with that patient is personally familiar with their meds, situation, diagnosis and anything else pertinent to their health.

Other Issues to be Aware Of

  • High risk medications. When most people think of meds with a high risk of overdose those that come to mind include narcotic painkillers, sleeping pills, benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan), barbiturates, and so forth. However, those high risk meds are responsible for only 8% of accidental overdoses while more common meds taken by the elderly for conditions like heart disease or diabetes are far more likely to make their taker sick. In fact, anticoagulants or blood-thinners, oral diabetes medication, insulin, and anti-platelet prescriptions alone are responsible for about 70% of overdoses among the elderly.
  • Vaccinations. The under-vaccination of senior citizens is actually a very common problem. Often, the only vaccination commonly associated with seniors is the flu vaccine. It’s wise to keep the flu shot in mind, of course, but next time one is given talk to the providing doctor about adding a pneumonia shot. Influenza and pneumonia are responsible for more deaths among the elderly than car accidents. Like anyone else, seniors need to stay current on their tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis boosters and more than most everyone else those same seniors should be inoculated with the shingles vaccine. If the patient in question has never contracted chickenpox, a shingles vaccination against it is a must. In addition, ask a doctor if the senior in question should also seek out Hepatitis A and B, Meningitis, as well as Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines.

Jim Fox is a freelance writer who studied medicine for his undergraduate degree.  He frequently writes about topics pertaining to the medical industry, including affordable RX drugs.  When not typing the day away, he is either perfecting his wine recipes or lacing up his ice skates and heading for the nearest frozen water.

On Elders and Automobiles

image from Pinterest

Our aging parents/grandparents are not as spritely and agile as they used to be, but for as long as they have good use of their physical and mental faculties, they should still be able to get behind the wheel and drive. Healthy walks are good for them (and us), but there are just some distances that need to be traversed by a vehicle, and sometimes, public transportation just isn’t available.

My folks are of senior level as well, and even if I know that my father is a notoriously careful driver, I just can’t shake the concern that with him nearing seventy years of age, that his body is a little more prone to misfiring in one way or the other. I can’t really stop him from driving, but there are a few precautions that I insist on so as to ensure that he doesn’t go out there unready for an event that might compromise his health or safety:

Towing Service/Auto Club Subscription

Changing a tire may be peanuts to a young one, but it might prove to be more exhausting for someone advanced in years. Make certain that your driving senior citizen has an active subscription to a 24-hour towing service that covers the areas that he usually drives to.

In addition to that, also make certain that the vehicle has the right tools to make rudimentary fixes on the road, just in case the towing service can’t reach his/her vehicle. Given that they can’t exert themselves too much, have easier to use; power tools where applicable. Of course, spare parts and compounds like fan belts, brake/power steering fluid, auto fuses, and of course, spare tires. Yes, it would be ideal that you stuff an extra tire in addition to the default spare. You can never be too prepared.

 

Technical Aids

There are gadgets you can add to their vehicles to help them drive safely and drive well. Along with your usual GPS (one of the less-technical, easier to read and understand models, with a clear voice), there are devices to keep them from falling asleep when on longer trips, as well as backing sensors to avoid any fender benders when parking. Medical alert systems on smartphones or as stand-alone devices would also be great.

Just make sure the aids are easy enough to use as the elders are not always savvy with current technology. Oh, and just like in the picture above, if they have glasses, make sure they use ‘em.

 

A Companion

Have a responsible adult tag along. This solution may not always be available, but when it is, insist on it. Having a secondary driver and a conversation mate will certainly make driving easier and safer for your beloved senior.

If you can, be the companion. It’s a great way to spend time with them, after all. Just don’t be too much of a backseat driver; it annoys any driver, senior or not. Still, if they have difficulty negotiating the road or the weather conditions, do not hesitate to offer to drive for the rest of the journey.

 

I wish you and your beloved elders a safe journey on the roads!

 

About The Author

Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and still drives her mom to the mall now and then. Stacey and a group of her closest friends have a blog, Word Baristas.