Older Adult Safety Tips for National Safety Month
Safety is something that should always be paramount, but this becomes especially important for older adults! Each year, about 3 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for a fall-related injury and, in most cases, these falls were preventable. Falls are problematic as they can not only lead to significant bodily injuries and costly hospital/rehabilitation facility stays but they can also lead to death (with the CDC reporting as many as 32,000 deaths per year). Preventing falls is critical to living a long and happy life in the comfort of your own home!
When it comes to keeping you and/or your loved one safe at home, take into consideration the following:
Balance & Mobility
If mobility is an issue, ensure that you/your loved one always has a wheelchair, cane or walker readily accessible. Having this equipment strategically placed throughout the house is a good idea as well in case you/your loved one unexpectedly loses balance or becomes weak and needs help with getting around the house. Understand your/your loved one’s limitations while also focusing on exercising routinely to maintain strength and keep your muscles moving. Though it is imperative to keep your body moving, don’t overdo it. If balance is a challenge, there are plenty of useful exercises you can do from a wheelchair, couch, recliner, chair or other comfortable area that allows you to get the movement you need without having to compromise your safety.
Especially when multiple medications and supplements are involved, managing the different medications, dosages and timeline of when to take these medications can become confusing and this confusion can create serious safety concerns. You will want to ensure the following:
- Check to be sure that none of your medication is expired. Take note of expiration dates and ensure that you are prepared with new medication before the expiration date approaches. Of course, if you identify expired medications, discard immediately! Click here for tips from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on how to safely discard prescriptions.
- Store all medications in a cool, safe place and try to keep all medications in their original containers. If you need to remove the medication from its original container, be sure you clearly label the new storage container with the medication name, dose and expiration date. You may want to also include instructions on when/how to take the medication so that you do not forget!
- Know the side effects of each of your medications. It is important to note the side effects of each medication you are taking so that you are aware in the event you experience any changes that don’t seem right. If you are taking multiple medications, it is important that you discuss all of the medications you are on with your PCP to ensure that they can integrate without issues.
- Keep a list of all medications and relevant details (such as dosage, how often they are taken & why they have been prescribed) handy in case of an emergency. Doing so will be helpful for any outsiders assisting in the event of an emergency- whether it is an EMT, family member, friend, home care worker etc.
Pill packets, weekly pill containers, medication dispensers etc. are helpful when it comes to trying to manage multiple medications on your own but there may come a time when medication management becomes too great of a task for you/your loved one. Not to worry…ABC Home Healthcare Professionals offers a Medication Management program whereby one of our licensed RNs will come and monitor all medications and assist with administration.
Personal Emergency Response Systems
Personal Emergency Response Systems like Life Alert and SimpliSafe, are great for achieving peace of mind for you or a loved one who either lives alone or spends a significant amount of time alone. Personal Emergency Response Systems have three components: a small radio transmitter, a console connected to the telephone, and an emergency response center that monitors calls. With this, an individual can call for help with a simple push of a button!
Establish an Emergency Plan
Emergencies very rarely give forewarning which is why we must always be prepared for emergency situations. Along with a clear list of all medications and pertinent details, you will want to have a list of emergency contacts as well. As weather is unpredictable and can present many challenges, you want to ensure that you have working flashlights readily accessible in each room if there is a power outage. Especially for older adults, it is important that areas remain well lit to prevent slips and falls so if there is a power outage, a flashlight may be your only alternative.
It is impossible to fully prevent accidents from happening but if you remain laser-focused on safety at home, you will benefit greatly. Some simple ways to increase safety and maintain independence at home are the following:
- Always wear shoes with traction
- Ensure that any lifting rugs are fixed or removed
- Have grab bars installed in bathroom
- Purchase nightlights for hallways and other main areas that you may use during the night if you must get up
- Opt for LED lights where possible as these lights have a longer life cycle than traditional bulbs
- Move washer and dryer or any other frequently used appliances on a main level (avoid the basement)
- Keep all medications or necessary items within easy reach
Curious as to what other safety measures you can take to ensure that your home is safe for aging in place? Give us a call today (781-245-1880) and one our licensed contractors can come provide some expert recommendations via ABC’s Home Modification program!