habits

Prevention: Accidents in Seniors

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).

Prevention

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?