We grow up and we move out, leaving our parents to spend the rest of their lives alone. From time to time, we may surprise them with a visit, a nice chat and maybe a lunch or two. But what’s going on with them when there’s no one to take care of them? Their bodies weaken and their senses may not be as sharp, making them more prone to accidents in their homes than the rest of us. Falling, accidental fires, poisoning, and a number of other dangerous scenarios are preventable. It is important that you make sure that your elderly loved ones can maintain their independence, while staying out of harm’s way.
Causes of Injury
The majority of accidents are from accidental falls. Most of them occur on the stairs of their home, or places where the floor is slippery, which tends to be the kitchen and bathroom. Aside from mobile falls, static ones can happen as well; these are usually falls from a bed or a chair. Any of these falls can result in fractures that require hospitalization. Studies show that one of five falls among elderly women result in such a scenario. The second biggest cause for injuries and fatalities are fire related accidents. Reasons for this are poor mobility, older equipment and appliances in their homes, and a decline in their sense of smell. The main sources causing the fires are household items such as: candles, electric blankets, heaters and cookers. Another concerning cause of accidents is accidental poisoning. Poisoning is mostly related to improper use of medication among the elderly. This can be due to difficulty reading the prescription instructions or not understanding the dosage. Accidental poisoning can also be from exposure to dangerous gases (pipeline gas and carbon monoxide).
There are certain ways to help prevent accidents among the elderly. Regular visits to the homes of your elderly loved ones can help assess the conditions that they are living in. Regarding falls, it is important that there are no items left on the stairs or other common areas that can become a potential tripping hazard. The stairs should be properly maintained and rugs should be avoided, especially those with repetitive patterns that can trick the eyes. All rooms and hallways should have proper lighting systems and dry floors. Preventing fires can be achieved by not smoking in the home. Electric blankets need to have regular maintenance, and drying clothes on heaters should be avoided. Furthermore, homes should always be equipped with smoke detectors and fireguards. Proper use of medications can prevent medicine related poisonings. It is important that your elderly loved one knows which medication they should be taking, in what dosage and how often. Reminding them regularly can be very helpful. Maintenance and regular checkups of all devices in the home is also necessary.
When is the Time for Daily Assistance?
A time may come when the elderly just aren’t able to take care of themselves anymore, and their safety requires constant assistance. There are some identifiable habits and behaviors which indicate the need of assistance. This can include constant and frequent trips and falls around the house or trouble moving around their own home. Accidents regarding home appliances and improper use (forgetting to turn off the stove) can signal that it is time for help. In case the person is a smoker, burn holes on their clothes or furniture is another indicator that assistance and supervision is needed. Once assistance is necessary, it is essential to find help as quickly as possible.
Does your elderly loved one live alone? How do you assure their safety?
As people begin to age, they begin to require additional assistance. As the child of aging parents, watching this process can be surreal and painful. The people who provided you with all your needs for so long, the seemingly invincible adults whose strength and vigor taught you what means to live with energy, slowly begin to weaken. They slow down. They don’t think as well. They age.
Aging parents can often use a helping hand. Food, laundry, cleaning, and many other common tasks begin to get overwhelming and even dangerous. You need to step in and help out. And yet, your parents aren’t helpless. They’re proud people. They’re still the same strong adults who grew you from a seed into the full fledged adult you are now. You don’t want to be rash. Don’t banish your beloved parents to a nursing home. Nursing homes are the source of thousands of abuse complaints every year, according to Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.
Luckily, many businesses offer top notch services that will help keep your parents independent. Consider these and others like them.
Cooking is hard. Even experienced professionals make dangerous mistakes. And certain techniques, like deep frying, can make any kitchen a flammable hazard. Moreover, easy meals may not be ideal for an aging person’s health. Enormous numbers of aging adults today are suffering from diabetes or prediabetes, conditions that are tricky to care for. Here are some good services to keep your folks well-fed and satisfied.
- Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is a classic service that helps elderly people—and others—to get nutritious food with minimal effort. Good variety, solid service, and a long history of success make this service a comfortable one.
- Mom’s Meals. Like Meals on Wheels, Mom’s Meals provides a wide variety of nutritious frozen foods to seniors and other people with special needs. And many insurance and social services programs cover the cost.
Home Health Aides
Home health aides aren’t quite nurses, aren’t quite cooks, aren’t quite cleaning professionals. They combine elements of all three and more. A home health aide is a professional jack-of-all-trades, someone able to adapt to whichever needs your parents have. Flexible, generous, and multi-skilled, home health are a great tool to keep your parents out of the nursing home. They’ll help cook, clean, check meds, and take care of the miscellaneous needs that arise regularly for aging people.
An app a day may keep the nursing home away. Technology can provide all kinds of solutions for an aging parent. Don’t stereotype your elders; older people often take to cutting edge tech with the enthusiasm of a geeky teen. Health apps, communication gadgets, self-driving cars, etc. The modern world is overflowing with convenient sleek wonders that can provide your aging parents with access to all the world’s joys. And technology can keep your folks independent. Some pieces of tech may allow your parent to communicate directly with healthcare professionals without having to make direct contact; no need to have a nurse stop by twice a day—record blood sugars and upload the data from home.
As you grow older, your driving patterns will change and a time will come when you might have to give up your keys. According to Mushkatel, Robbins, & Becker, “Barely half of Americans 65 and older held a driver’s license in the early 1970s. Today, 84% of seniors have a license”. It is important to recognize when that is the case. This does not mean the end of your independence, as there are a number of ways you can get around without hassle. This might mean making a switch to what can be a safer and healthier lifestyle for you in your senior years. Your body will give you signs to let you know that your driving patterns have become harmful, and it is necessary to pay attention to those signs. Here’s how to recognize these warning signs.
Health Related Complications
Some of the early warning signs that your age might be interfering with your driving are usually health related. One of the most common complications are health issues that affect your eyesight. If you have an eye condition that affects your vision that is a very clear indication that you should give up your keys. While such a condition might not directly affect your ability to see, it might compromise your night vision, making it difficult for you to drive in the dark. This could also be sensitivity to light or blurred vision.
Loss of Hearing
Loss of hearing could also be a very important sign, since your hearing is vital to your continued safety on the road. If you find that you are increasingly unaware of people honking around you or other safety cues necessary for the road, then you might need to reconsider your decision to keep driving.
If you are on constant medication, you should confirm with your healthcare provider if it is okay for you to keep driving, This is because the side effects of certain medication includes an inability to drive. The same goes should you discover that your reflexes seem to have slowed down and you are finding it increasingly difficult to react as swiftly as you should when you are driving.
Another key health related complication stems from memory loss. Getting lost or missing your way once in a while can happen to anyone. However, if this happens regularly, then you should seek professional help and suspend driving until you hear from your doctor.
Difficulty with Normal Driving Routine
When driving gradually becomes more stressful and you find yourself having difficulty with normal driving routine such as forgetting to turn on your lights, making sudden turns without using your signal or even breaking for no reason, then your driving has probably turned harmful. Also, if you find that you are increasingly having close calls such as near crashes and dents on your car, then that is a warning sign as well.
Benefits of Not Driving
Giving up driving does have several benefits. Not driving may not be easy for you at first, particularly if you have been driving your entire life and it is something you enjoy doing. Nevertheless, deciding not to drive can save your life and the lives of others sharing the road with you. Some benefits include:
Expand Your Network – This is a good way to meet people and expand your social network. If you are reluctant to ask a friend or neighbor for a ride, you can trade something in exchange.
Save on Gasoline and other costs – Owning and keeping a car can be a drain on the resources. Giving up your car means that you save on gasoline and other related costs.
Reduce health risks – In seeking alternative ways of transportation, you might decide to walk or maybe cycle to nearby destinations. These are great ways of incorporating exercise into your lifestyle, thereby reducing health risks.
Increase safety on the roads – Another benefit of not driving is ensuring increased safety on the roads. You greatly reduce the chances of a crash and keep the road safe for you and for other users.
Are you ready to give up your keys? How did you make the transition?
No two injuries are alike, which means that the path to recovery can be different for everyone, especially for seniors. Post-injury exercise is a common denominator, however, and one that many doctors promote to aid in rehabilitation. But, which exercises are best for which types of injuries? Just as important, are there certain exercises that may cause more harm than good? Here is a look at three common types of injuries, and exercises that are beneficial and detrimental for each.
Knee injuries are one of the most common types of sports-related injuries. A key to preventing additional injury when nursing your knee back to health is to avoid bending your leg so far that the knee extends past the foot. Partial squats and side lying leg lifts (both done without weights), step ups (using a low bench or stepper), and straight leg raises are just a few of the common exercises recommended to strengthen and help rehabilitate knees post-injury. However, lunges, deep squats, running, and other exercises that jar the knees should be avoided.
Joint injuries can include those involving the knee, but they can also develop from a twisted ankle, overextended elbow, or strained or sprained wrist. Strains are common and occur when a ligament is stretched or torn, so a joint injury can occur as a result of anything from participating in a sport to being involved in a work-related accident or a vehicle collision. However the injury develops, though, there are exercises that can help rebuild strength and relieve the pain in the impacted joints.
Swimming is considered to be one of the best exercises for joint injuries. The water absorbs much of the body’s stress, allowing for more flexibility and endurance. In addition, other low impact exercises, including yoga, walking, stretching, and bicycling are also recommended. Of course, the specific exercise chosen will depend on the area injured, as well as your doctor’s guidance. But, exercises to avoid while recovering from joint injuries include all high impact workouts, such as running, and even jogging.
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC), there are an estimated 12,500 new spinal cord injuries reported in the United States every year. Also, spinal cord injuries (SCI) greatly lower life expectancy, particularly during the first year post-injury, and the mortality rate increases with the severity of the injury. Fortunately, those who have suffered from a SCI can increase their chances at longevity and an improved quality of life by actively engaging in rehabilitative exercises, which is part of the seven step recovery process.
Since the spine is such a critical component of our physical functionality, it’s imperative that any exercise program be cleared with your doctor beforehand. Often, exercises are done under the care of a physical therapist to ensure they’re being performed properly, but typically, SCI exercises include those that help improve spine movement and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. For example, certain low impact stretches, the use of a stationary bicycle, or even swimming may be prescribed. Exercises to avoid include any that cause strain on the back, such as weightlifting.
Regardless of the location or severity of the injury, you should not experience enduring pain while exercising. If you do, you could exacerbate the problem, so stop and consult your doctor. After all, the goal of including exercise as part of your post-injury regimen is to rehabilitate the injured area. Exercise can be essential to the recovery process but, as with all exercise programs, consult your doctor before you begin, especially if you’ve suffered an injury.