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Safety Issues

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Safety IssuesAs a person ages, their agility decreases while their fragility increases. Unfortunately, this inverse relationship can lead to more and more household accidents if one does not take some preventative measures to help “senior-proof” your loved one’s home.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is estimated that one in three seniors aged 65 and up experiences an accidental fall each year and the likelihood of falling increases with age.

More than 1.6 million U.S. seniors go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries which are deemed the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence and injury deaths. Hip, pelvis, spine, arm, hand and ankle fractures are the most common which can lead to extended hospital stays and disability.

The leading cause of injury and loss of independence among seniors is hip fractures. Most healthy, independent seniors are able to return home or live on their own after treatment and rehabilitation but some will require long-term care.

You can also make your loved one’s home safer by removing loose rugs, adding handrails to stairs and hallways, and making sure you have adequate lighting in dark areas.  Recommending that they NOT wear bifocal or multifocal glasses when they walk, especially on stairs, will make them much less likely to fall. In addition, moderate exercise to improve their balance and strengthen muscles can also decrease their likelihood of falling. The use of canes, walkers and extended reaching devices have also proven to be helpful fall deterrents among seniors.

NIH recommends the following tips to help to prevent unnecessary falls at home:

  • Remove anything that could cause you to trip or slip while walking. Tripping on clutter, small furniture, pet bowls, electrical or phone cords, or other things can cause you to fall. Slipping on rugs or slick floors can also cause falls.
  • Arrange furniture to give you plenty of room to walk freely. Also remove items from stairs, hallways, and pathways.
  • Be sure that carpets are secured to the floor and stairs. Remove throw rugs, use non-slip rugs, or attach rugs to the floor with double-sided tape.
  • Put non-slip strips on floors and steps. Put non-slip strips or a rubber mat on the floor of your bathtub or shower, as well. You can buy these items at a home center or hardware store.
  • At home and elsewhere, try to avoid wet floors and clean up spills right away. Use only non-skid wax on waxed floors at home.
  • Be careful when walking outdoors, and avoid going out alone on ice or snow. A simple slip on a slick sidewalk, a curb, or icy stairs could result in a serious injury.
  • Poor lighting — inside and outdoors — can increase your risk of falls. Make sure you have enough lighting in each room, at entrances, and on outdoor walkways. Use light bulbs that have the highest wattage recommended for the fixture.
  • Good lighting on stairways is especially important. Light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs can help.
  • Place a lamp within easy reach of your bed. Put night lights in the bathroom, hallways, bedroom, and kitchen. Also keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power is out and you need to get up.
  • Have handrails installed on both sides of stairs and walkways. If you must carry something while walking up or down stairs, hold the item in one hand and use the handrail with the other. When you’re carrying something, be sure you can see where your feet are stepping.
  • Properly placed grab bars in your tub and shower, and next to the toilet, can help you avoid falls, too. Have grab bars installed, and use them every time you get in and out of the tub or shower. Be sure the grab bars are securely attached to the wall.
  • You might find it helpful to rearrange often-used items in your home to make them more accessible. Store food boxes, cans, dishes, clothing, and other everyday items within easy reach. This simple change could prevent a fall that might come from standing on a stool to get to an item.

Another area of concern among seniors is their ability to drive. Vision, hearing and muscular flexibility diminish with age which can contribute to delayed reaction times behind the wheel. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you keep an eye on your loved one’s acuity in these areas and make ongoing periodic determinations regarding whether or not it’s still safe to allow them to drive. Certain states have mandatory driver reexaminations for this reason and it’s in everyone’s best interest to stay abreast of your loved one’s capabilities in this critical area. The Department of Motor Vehicles in your respective state is the best source to access for specific laws pertaining to senior driving rules, regulations and other applicable legal issues for senior driving privileges. It should also be noted that if your loved one is on regular medications that might impede their driving abilities, it’s time to take their keys away and possibly consider permanently removing their car from the premises.

 

 

For more information, visit:

http://nihseniorhealth.gov/falls/aboutfalls/01.html

http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/falling-injuries-preventable

http://nihseniorhealth.gov/olderdrivers/howagingaffectsdriving/01.html

http://www.smartmotorist.com/traffic-and-safety-guideline/older-drivers-elderly-driving-seniors-at-the-wheel.html

 

 

 

ABOUT SENIOR CARE NETWORK Senior Care Network is an online community designed to help family members and caregivers better understand the many issues of aging in order to assist you in making informed decisions regarding the healthcare needs of loved ones during their golden years while providing them with the highest level of comfort, dignity and quality of life possible during this challenging chapter of their lives.
All content provided by Senior Care Network, LLC, is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. For professional medical information, advice, diagnosis or treatment, please consult with your physician and/or your other licensed health care providers. Senior Care Network, LLC, does not recommend or endorse any specific physicians, healthcare providers, professional service providers, facilities, products, opinions or other information that may be featured on this site.

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