You don’t have to drill a thousand holes and spend a fortune to keep your elderly parent or loved one safe, notes Elderly Safety.
In fact, it may be as simple as a good, solid push. On a suction cup grab bar, for example, available from some online retailers for from about $13 to as much as $115 for a heavy-duty telescoping bar with super-grip capacity.
Still, $115 isn’t much to spend when considering a loved ones’ safety. And this particular grab bar, mounted in a potentially treacherous tile or plastic shower without tools, using only the pressure of a good, strong arm and a little moisture, will offer hours of peace of mind when you are not able to be with that loved one.
Other safety measures can be as simple to install, and offer as much peace of mind. For example, wireless security, at only $137.83, installs easily with mounting accessories included, and offers 100-foot range for houses or apartments as large as 3,000 square feet.
A 4-zone system, with 6 sensors per zone (including doors, windows and motion-sensitivity), can be customized to operate as the homeowner wishes, including various delay times, instant warning, chimes and even an emergency voice message for those instances where personal response might fail.
It also calls up to 9 separate phone numbers, and provides a 110-decibel siren – more than enough to provide both safety and security for aging parents or a spouse who must be left home alone.
Called the Door Guardian, this unique lock that doesn’t look like a lock offers strong but ingenious detention for Alzheimer’s victims.
It does not need a key, and opens by both pulling and rotating the unit out of the way on an inside door that opens into the room (but not on doors that open out). It is reportedly super-easy for caregivers to disconnect, but baffling to Alzheimer’s patients, thus ensuring that they can’t leave the premises untended.
It installs on wood or metal doors, and requires only a drill and a screwdriver, both of which are provided. It is not recommended for use on exterior doors, for obvious reasons, but mounted high on the jamb, or very low, it combines unexpected location with an unusual appearance to disguise its true function so that Alzheimer’s victims are not even tempted to fuss with it.
Motion Alert Devices
Sadly, some of our older loved ones are confined to a bed or a chair by their infirmities. It is a difficult situation for caregivers, but one that ensures greatest safety for those elderly who are too shaky to walk on their own, even to get to the bathroom.
For those individuals, installing a wireless remote alarm pad across the middle of the bed, or the seat of a chair, insures that shaky older individuals can be prevented from attempting to walk around on their own.
The pads operate on batteries or, alternately, an AC adaptor, and usually come with a washable, waterproof protector pad to guard against bladder accidents and leaks. About 10 inches by 30 inches, the soft vinyl pads trigger an alarm that can be located up to 100 feet away from the bed or chair, and offer a full, one-year warranty.
Other products requiring little or no installation, and offering hours of reassurance and comfort, include toilet and bath safety rails, lanyard-mounted pagers, cotton safety-transfer belts for walking and moving from place to place, bedside handrails that fit under the mattress and above the box spring, or even hospital beds, which can be purchased new or used, sometimes for as little as $50 in very good condition.
Or, for fragile but no longer dexterous older hands, consider a doorknob extender, which transforms a slippery door handle into a long, easy-to-grasp wedge that even the most arthritic hands can grasp.
For many seniors, taking medications becomes part of daily life in order to manage certain health conditions that often come with getting older. While some seniors may view being prescribed a drug as a negative thing, many medications can help extend one’s life and improve overall health. Whether you’ve been taking a medication for years or were recently prescribed a medication, it’s important that you know how to take your medications safely and properly. Follow these medication safety tips to avoid serious complications:
Know What You’re Taking
When your doctor prescribes you any kind of medication, short or long term, it’s important to learn as much as you can about your medication. At your appointment, it’s a good idea to take notes and jot down any questions you may have, as well as any information he or she gives you. If you’re afraid you may not understand or remember what your doctor is telling you about your medication, bring someone with you to the appointment. Here are some questions you should ask before taking your medication:
Why am I taking this medicine and what/how is it treating?
Are there any side effects? How will I feel? How will I know if it’s working?
What happens if I skip a dosage? Do I have to take it at the same time every day?
How should I take it? With food? On an empty stomach?
Are there less expensive, generic brands that work the same?
A good rule of thumb is to ask as many questions as you have and don’t leave your appointment until you feel completely informed. It’s likely that questions or concerns may come up as you take the medication, so keep track of those questions as well and save them for your next appointment or call your doctor.
Don’t Forget Your Other Medications
New medications may interact negatively with other medications you may be taking so it’s important that your doctor knows of all drugs you take from prescribed to OTC to supplements. In addition to be aware of any side effects, it’s important to know if the new medication (when taken with or without other medications) will impair your driving, can be taken with alcohol, or may worsen other medical conditions. Sometimes, even a particular food should be avoided when taking a medication so be sure to read all instructions and warnings carefully.
Keep in Contact with Your Doctor
Once you start taking a new medication, it’s important to stay in contact with your doctor. Even if you start to experience some of the “expected” side effects, it’s a good idea to keep track of how you feel (physically, mentally, emotionally) when you take your medication. If you don’t like how you feel, do not stop taking medication on your own. Always talk with your doctor before changing a dosage and an abrupt stop on a medication can cause serious health problems.
Whatever your age, it’s never too late to get active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inactivity increases with age and the loss of strength and stamina, often attributed to aging, is partly due to reduced activity. The CDC reports that by age 75, about 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women engage in no physical activity.
There are numerous benefits to becoming physically active as a senior of any age. Not only does exercise help maintain the ability to live independently and reduce the risk of falling, but it also reduces the risk of dying from heart diseases and certain cancers. Exercise also helps control swelling and pain associated with arthritis. While exercise can do wonders for physical health, it can also improve and maintain mental health.
Tips For Staying Safe During Physical Activity
Whether you are already an active senior or wish to become more physically active, your safety is important. Here are some tips to staying safe while staying active:
- Take it Slow: If you’re interested in increasing your level of activity (or you want to make significant changes in your current routine), but haven’t been active in awhile, it’s important to start out slow. By starting out slowly, you’re less likely to sustain an injury or overdue it right away. Experts recommend starting with short intervals, 5 to 10 minutes, of moderate activity and slowly build up.
- Always Consult With Your Doctor: Every workout program comes with a warning to speak with a medical professional before starting the program. The warning is not supposed to be viewed as a mere suggestion, but rather to be taken seriously. If you are at high risk for heart disease, are diabetic, obese, smoke, or have any other health concerns, you should always check first with your doctor before exercises. Other reasons to check first include: new or undiagnosed symptoms, chest pain, or heart beat irregularities.
- Choose Activities Best Suited for You: There are plenty of types of exercise that you can try. Whether you choose yoga, water aerobics, pickleball, or weight lifting, it’s important to know how to properly engage in the activity. For instance, if you fail to follow the directions on a weight machine or you aren’t sure what to do, your chances of being injured are greater.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to find an exercise you can do all year round or a few you
can participate in throughout the year. For example, walking is a great exercise which can be done indoors and outdoors. It can also be started out slowly and at shorter intervals, but can be easily adjusted for increased activity. For safety while walking, it’s a good idea to walk in an area that has a smooth and soft surface, and is well-lighted. It is also wise to avoid areas that intersect with traffic.
In addition to staying well-hydrated during your exercise, it’s important to wear comfortable clothing and wear appropriate shoes for the activity. If you begin to experience any pain or discomfort while exercising, consult with your doctor right away.
In the current form of the cyber world, safety has become an issue for a great many reasons. Utilizing the internet can sometimes bring more harm than good, especially when the user is rather clueless of the mechanics of it all. Over-sharing through the internet is a serious issue that is mainly common among young ones. With the recent fluctuation of users, its important to consider cyber security for seniors. They may not be very familiar with technology, and may fall prey to online dangers more easily. This is where the Center for Internet Security comes in.
The Threat of Scams Challenges Cyber Security for Seniors
One of the main concerns of internet security are scams, and their ability to spread prolifically around the globe. There are mountains of evidence of scams that have cost fortunes. Among the most common victims are the elderly who can be a little too nice, and even gullible, when it comes to sharing. On top of this fact, they are also less likely to report it. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated that older Americans are less likely to report a fraud, even after having experienced it.
A Discernible Level of Awareness
Internet users must be wary of suspicious messages. The elderly must be warned of ‘inviting’ messages like “Free gifts!” and “You’re a winner!” They need to be able to know their rights and limitations as internet users. Your elders must not fall for messages that call for urgency through warnings or scares of their accounts being closed, “new relatives” who suddenly need financial help, and other such scams to con them out of their money. If your elderly loved one does not have the ability to distinguish between safe and appropriate internet activity, then it might be necessary to keep their internet usage under personal watch. Check last visited sites and social media accounts every now and then if you suspect something fishy is going on.
Check Online Purchases
The need for internet precaution and watchfulness increases if your elderly loved ones like to shop online or use their credit card for other online transactions. This includes the games that they could be playing, or attempts to pay bills through their computer. Buying online has been made as simple as a few clicks, so it is important to be sure that the purchases that are made and sites that are being visited are safe. In such cases, you can consider requiring your authorization for their purchases, depending on their needs.
Keeping your elderly loved ones safe online is essential. Though certain internet security steps are in place, many elderly are still falling prey to online predators known as “catfish scams.” These are people with fake online profiles that try to extort money from their victims. Although, it might feel intrusive to pry on your elderly loved one’s internet activity, it is a necessary evil in keeping them safe in the long run.
To maintain your security, visit the official guidelines here and keep up with the latest internet safety tips.
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.
The winter months can be a welcome sight for many people who love the snowy landscapes of frosty trees and winter activities, but winter can also make life limiting and dangerous for older individuals. With winter comes slippery ice, drifting snow, and cold temperatures, which can keep some seniors housebound and feeling isolated. Staying safe and healthy during the winter months is crucial and can contribute to an elder’s wellbeing the rest of the year.
Get a Flu Shot
The flu is notorious for arriving in the winter time. While flu shots are encouraged for anyone of any age, seniors over the age of 65 should always opt for a flu vaccine as it can be a lifesaver. Older individuals, who contract the flu, are more likely to have complications that can have life threatening results. One of the best ways to stay safe during the winter time is by staying healthy.
Winterize Your Home
Keeping your home warm in the winter can be a challenge, but some simple winterizing steps can cut down on heating bills and the risk of having complications related to the cold, such as hypothermia. Elderly individuals are more susceptible to hypothermia because they aren’t able to produce the same amount of body heat as younger individuals. The best way to prevent life threatening hypothermic conditions is to keep the indoor temperature at least 65 degrees (F).
Setting your thermostat high can be expensive, particularly if your house is old and drafty. If your income is limited, see if you qualify for financial energy assistance; these programs can help you winterize your home by putting up weatherstripping and insulation. When trying to keep your home warm, never use your oven to heat your home. It’s also important that you have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home.
Have a Plan B
Many elders live independently without any problems, however, winter weather can make it hard to get out of the house or around for basic errands such as a trip to the pharmacy or groceries. If the weather gets too cold or treacherous, it’s important for many seniors to have a backup plan. If you are an independent elder, know your limits when it comes to cold weather. If your house becomes too cold, make arrangements to stay with friends or family. When the road conditions become too dangerous for you to travel comfortably, make arrangements to have someone deliver groceries and other basic needs (many places offer delivery services). Additionally, make plans with a friend or loved one to check in daily, either by phone or in person. A simple slip and fall or another household accident can put your health in danger.
Go Outside with Caution
During the winter months, everyone gets a bit of cabin fever and it’s always a good idea to step outside and get some fresh air. If you feel as if you are mobile enough to go outside, make sure that your clothing is warm enough and you are wearing boots with good tread. If you notice ice dams or excess snow on your roof, do not attempt to remove them yourself. Additionally, consider hiring someone to shovel and de-ice your sidewalks. Listen to the news, if the weather reporter says to stay indoors, stay indoors.
Seniors face many daily challenges. Hygiene can be one of those challenges. A senior with whose cognitive abilities or physical range of motion have recently declined may be in danger of things they’ve never never imagined. Through most of your life, you’re capable of sticking to basic sanitary needs. If you become forgetful with age, or you lose the ability to move in the way you once did, you’ll have issues.
Some seniors may not be willing or capable of communicating new hygiene needs. This is a sensitive issue. If you are a caregiver, you need to ensure that your patient (or family member, or client, etc) has a safe space in which to discuss problems like this. No one wants to ask for help going to the bathroom or showering. Nonetheless, these things happen and it’s crucial that seniors communicate these needs. As a caregiver, it’s your job to make it comfortable and face-saving as possible for people to come to you with hygiene issues.
With age, the simple shower can become a dangerous trap. Range of motion decreases and smaller accidents become more serious. For the elderly, a fall in the shower could cause a whole host of big problems. According to the National Institutes on Health (NIH), falling down is a “common reason for trips to the emergency room and for hospital stays among older adults. For a senior, one broken bone could be the difference between independence in a lifelong home and being stuck permanently in a long-term care facility like a nursing home.
Showering is an absolute hygiene must. If someone your provide care for is at risk of a shower fall, you need to be careful. Discuss safety. Keep tripping hazards off of the bathroom floor. A shower chair can work wonders for a senior in the shower, keeping her or him safe, while helping maintain independence and privacy.
Handwashing prevents people of all ages from getting sick. This is nothing new to seniors. But for many seniors, hand washing has always been an important but relatively small matter; getting sickness was a minor hassle. Older adults have weakened immune systems. This means two things: 1) they get ill more easily 2) illness is much more serious. For the elderly, a simple flu can be life-threatening. According to flu.gov, “Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people age 65 and older.”
As a caregiver, it’s crucial that you remind senior of the importance of good hand hygiene. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention tells us to use soap and water, and to scrub for at least 20 seconds.
Seniors are also at increased risk for dental health problems. The average person over the age of 65 has “lost an average of 13 teeth,” according to the NIDCR. Make sure any senior in your care brushes for at least two minutes at a time, 2 or 3 times daily. Modern gadgets like electric toothbrushes and water flossers may make this process easier.
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?
The internet has opened up huge avenues for information and commerce. The online world has endless marketplaces, databases, and communication possibilities. That openness has been, in many ways, a precious gift for aging populations, enabling senior citizens to do research, keep up with the news, and stay connected with friends and family in remote places.
Unfortunately, the same freedom that allows for an older adult to speak with his old baseball buddy overseas with the push of button also allows him to get preyed upon by eastern European cybercriminals. One click gets you the answers to the Sunday crossword puzzle, another click transfers the contents of your life savings to a teenager in St. Petersburg. Here are a few common tricks used by by internet charlatans trying to bilk senior citizens out of their hard-earned dough.
Scammers frequently fleece the elderly by claiming to be someone other than who they are via email. Common tricks include claiming to be a medicare agent, the IRS, or a falsely imprisoned member of Nigerian royalty. This scam is so effective because it elicits the happy cooperation of the victim. Instead of mugging you at knifepoint, the scammer talks you into simply handing it over. By the time you realize you’ve been duped, it’s way too late; someone somewhere’s got your money, and only thing you know about them is that they sent you an email claiming to want to help you out.
It’s not just new technologies such as email that enable frauds to slip their paws into your pocketbook. Good old telephones still serve as a useful tool for these morally moribund thieves. The technology may be different, but the scam is much the same. Scammers make false claims, get seniors to hand over their personal information, and voila! The thieves hold the keys to the city.
Some telemarketers pose special problems to seniors due to their similarity to legitimate salesmen. Many may actually be actual business owners who realize they’ve got an easy sell and step up their pushiness. But most cases of fraud by telemarketers involved actual criminals who set out specifically to prey on vulnerable populations. According to fraud.org, people 60 years and older make up nearly a full third of all telemarketing scam victims.
Seniors often have a complex med regimen. Scammers know this. They also know that seniors frequently have lots of money, may be in the process of cognitive decline, and were likely raised to be trusting, faithful citizens. They sell fake or stolen meds to elderly adults. Easy money. This fraud can take place by any of the previously mentioned methods: mail, email, telephone. It makes no difference. This trick can come at you from any direction.
What You Can Do
Keep in mind, if something seems too outlandish, or too good, to be true, it probably is. Very few people win the lottery. Sensitive medicaid issues will not be dealt with via email. Pharmacists will be upfront about costs and med updates.
Be vigilant. Keep these scams in mind. If something seems suspicious, speak with someone. You could help take down a predator.
In 2013, there were 4,735 traffic-related pedestrian deaths in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that the likelihood of a pedestrian being killed or injured by a vehicle increases with age. In fact, pedestrians aged 65 and over account for an estimated 20 percent of all pedestrian deaths. Given this information, it’s clear that our older population must remain diligent and aware when they are out and about. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe as a pedestrian.
Pay Attention and Communicate With Drivers
It is easy to become distracted by your surroundings when you are out for a walk. In fact, many of us go for a walk for the purpose of enjoying the scenery. However, as a pedestrian, it is incumbent upon you to remain aware of traffic, especially when you are trying to cross the street. You may think the driver of the vehicle sees you but, unless you make eye contact, or are otherwise signaled by the driver, you cannot know for sure. In order to ensure that you don’t become one of the more than 9 distracted driving fatalities reported in the Unites States every day, keep your head up, remain aware, and communicate with drivers before crossing the street.
It may be inconvenient and less physically taxing to cross the street in the middle of the block, but it is not safe. Crosswalks offer more visibility for pedestrians, and they are significantly safer to use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in 2012, 68 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the 65 and over age group occurred at non-intersection locations. If a crosswalk is unavailable, cross the street at a corner. A car accident can easily kill a pedestrian, even in busy areas where vehicles are driving slowly. In fact, according to the NIH, 43 percent of all pedestrian deaths in 2013 occurred in the most populous states: California, Florida, Texas, and New York. But, it was Florida and Delaware which had the highest pedestrian fatality rate, at 3 deaths for every 100,000 residents. So, stay visible to drivers by utilizing crosswalks, or crossing at street corners, regardless of traffic speed and flow. The extra effort is definitely worth the trouble.
Even though you may be crossing the street at the corner, or by using the designated crosswalk, you must still obey traffic signals, just as drivers are required to do. If the street you are attempting to cross has a crosswalk signal, use it. Only enter the crosswalk once you are certain drivers have seen you, and if the crosswalk signal indicates you can cross. Do not begin to cross the street after the pedestrian signal begins to flash, however. That is akin to a driver’s yellow light, so you should stop and wait until the signal changes again signifying that it is safe to cross. Otherwise, you may not make it across the street before the traffic signals change, and you could be caught in cross traffic.
Senior pedestrians have a higher risk of injury and death than most age groups. Seniors can be a bit slower in their movements and, as we age, our senses, including vision and hearing, can diminish. However, by remaining aware of drivers, and ensuring they are aware of you, and by properly utilizing crosswalks, corners, and traffic signals, you can dramatically lower your risk of being injured or killed by a vehicle.