Category Archives: Home Safety

Winter Heating Money Saving Tips For Seniors

As winter begins to settle in across the country, seniors need to focus on heating their homes. Heating costs need to be factored into the family budget as heating costs can take a big bite out of any budget. The rising costs of natural gas, electric, coal and even wood for fireplaces, make it harder for seniors to meet the demands of keeping their houses warm. In addition to keeping the house warm, many seniors will be staying in the house much more than in the summer and that can lead to increases in other utility bills.

There are many steps that can be taken to help address the costs of increased heating bills. Here are a few items to consider and steps to take:
• If you’re not watching the television, turn it off. Appliances and the television use a lot of electricity when they’re in use. If it’s easy and feasible, you can even consider unplugging the items as they use “phantom” electricity when they’re turned off but still plugged in.
• Turn off the lights in rooms you’re not using. Consider adding motion activated lights to specific rooms and dark hallways; that way you won’t have to fumble around in the dark to turn a light on and it will turn off after a specific time of inactivity.
• Trade in higher wattage light bulbs for lower watt models. If you have a light over a chair where you read, then keep a light that is of a high enough wattage to allow you to do that easily and without eye strain. In other areas of the house, though, lower wattage bulbs may help save money.
• Have the heating system serviced and maintenance items addressed. If it’s in good working order it will run more efficiently and save on heating bills. Ask the technician how often the air filters should be changed. If you have rooms that are simply not getting warm, it may be time to consider having the heating ducts cleaned.
• Look around the house for areas in which winds could slip through the cracks such as windows and doorways. Use weather stripping, caulk or other sealants to keep the cold air out and trap the warm air in. If you don’t have Energy Star windows you may want to consider adding plastic over the windows for an additional layer of insulation.
• The use of a programmable thermostat can save money by lowering the heat when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping and having it turn on and heat the house before you get home or wake up.
• You can also turn down the thermostat a few degrees and still stay warm by dressing in layers, wearing slippers in the house and curling up on the couch with a blanket when you’re relaxing. If you’re up and moving around during the day, chances are you will be warm enough without having to turn the thermostat up too high.
• Make certain your thermostat isn’t in direct contact with a drafty or cold area as this could make it turn on and run more frequently than it needs to. Heat sources such as lights and ovens can also impact how often your heater turns on and off.
• When you do laundry try to do it one load after another; you reduce heat loss and drying time by adding a fresh load of laundry to an already heated dryer.
• Is it possible to lower the thermostat on the water heater? You may be able to save money on the heating of the water by lowering the temperature a few degrees. In many cases a drop of a couple degrees will not make a noticeable impact on the water temperature when you shower or wash dishes.
• If you have a fireplace make certain the damper is closed when it’s not in use. Cold air can blow through the chimney and into the home through an open damper. If you’re using a fireplace it should be inspected annually.
• Do you have sufficient insulation in the attic or crawlspaces? If you’re not certain ask a family member or hire a professional to check and add more if necessary to reduce heat loss.
• Open your curtains during the day to use the heat of the sun to help warm the house. Close them at night to help retain the heat. Using heavier, insulated curtains in the winter is a great way to keep the cold wind out and the warm air in.
Don’t let the fear of heating bills cause you to turn the furnace down to such a low temperature that you become ill. As we age, it’s sometimes more difficult to notice fluctuations in temperature and you don’t want to suffer ill effects of being too cold simply because you don’t notice the chill. A steady temperature of 67 or 68 degrees is typically comfortable in the winter and if you’re cold add a sweater or another layer.

Senior Safety Tips And Advice

As we age, some individuals can become the target for a financial crime, identity theft, home break-in or some other scam.  Boomers raised in an era where being rude to a solicitor on the phone or door to door can actually put them in a more vulnerable position.  In some cases, those who would perpetrate a crime against the elderly will either rely on charm or bullying tactics to get the information that they seek. While a financial crime is a devastating time for anyone, it can be even worse for the elderly as they may not only question their ability to remain independent but will become fearful of living alone.

As a caregiver, there are steps you can take to protect your elderly loved ones:

  1.  Make sure the home is secure. Check the locks on doors and windows. Install a home alarm system with motion detectors and automatic indoor & outdoor lights. Make sure to post signs alerting vandals to the fact that the home has a security system. Another safety measure is to equip your relatives with a emergency medical device; these medical alert pendants provide a lifeline to outside help and assistance in the time of need.
  2. Trim all bushes around the house to eliminate any potential hiding places for a would-be burglar. Install doors with peepholes and advise them to not open the door to strangers. Never put keys under a door mat or other outdoor hiding spot. These are too easily discovered. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend that lives close to hold onto the extra key.
  3. Make certain the house number is painted in bright colors and large numbers to make it easy to find if emergency responders need to visit.
  4. Make certain additional cash isn’t left lying around the house. Keep enough cash on hand for daily needs, but keep large sums in the bank.
  5. Warn your elderly relatives to never give any personal or financial information over the phone. Make sure they are aware that no one – other than a family member – would ever be calling to solicit financial information. If your relatives are tech savvy and have signed up for online banking, make sure they are knowledgeable about the scams where it looks like their financial institution is asking them to sign in using the provided link. Their bank would never make this request, it is a scam.
  6. Don’t let your relatives make deals with door-to-door sales people. The scams perpetrated on the elderly involve everything from being overcharged for putting a new roof on the home to sealing the driveway to simply letting someone into the house so they can get the “lay of the land” and break in later. If, for example, your relatives need a new vacuum cleaner or a roof or driveway work, they should talk to you to help them get estimates from reputable contractors or take them to the store to make their purchases.
  7. If your relatives are still mobile and drive themselves to their appointments make sure they never carry more cash with them than what they need for that excursion. Also, advise them to not travel into areas with which they aren’t familiar. They should also always lock their car doors each time they get out. In some cases, it’s a good idea to lock the doors when driving along in unfamiliar locations.

These safety tips that will provide both the caregiver and the aging relative with peace of mind as they continue to age in place.

 

Checklist: Are Your Aging Parents In Need Of Assistance

It’s not always easy to ask for help and that is likely more evident as your parents age. You’ll notice that as they get older it’s harder for them to take care of themselves and keep up with the day-to-day necessities yet they don’t necessarily want to ask for help or admit their needs.  While aging isn’t anything we want to shy away from, it’s not always feasible to think your aging parents can continue to live the way they always have.

As they age, it may become physically impossible for them to carry out some of the tasks they are accustomed to and toward that end, family members may need to step in and help out. In many communities there are facilities that are equipped to provide services to seniors whether it’s a Meals on Wheels program, day programs at a skilled nursing facility or simply a day out at with a church group. As adult children, you may become tasked with making a determination on whether your aging relatives are healthy enough to continue living alone or whether they require additional assistance.

Observing them as they go about their daily routines at home is one way to see whether there is a need that needs to be. One of the first steps that can be very effective is to provide a medical alert device with a pendant or bracelet they push in the event of a medical emergency or a fall.  With this system, your loved has greater peace of mind and less worry in the event something should happen.

When you’re spending time with your aging family members, here are a few things to pay attention to. If you see struggles in any of these areas, it may be time to consider a caregiver or additional assistance from family members:

  • Can they still take care of themselves and their hygiene?
  • Are they continuing to shower, brush their hair and teeth and get dressed for the day? If you see these personal hygiene items being neglected you will want to speak with them about it and see if they simply are having a hard time getting in and out of the shower – this can be remedied with a shower replacement.
  • Are they still able to complete their routine tasks, cook meals, walk the dog, etc…?
  • Is their home falling into disarray because they can’t keep up with the cleaning?

These are just a few items that may lead you to make a decision about their ability to care for themselves. Until a time comes that you realize they are unable to remain at home, using a medical alert pendant and making certain their home is age proofed will go a long way to providing a safe and secure environment.

Bathroom Hazards to Address; Aging In Place Seniors

Regardless of whether you’re young or old, the bathroom is typically one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. The danger does rise as the individual ages because the bathroom is typically a very small space that is prone to slippery floors and surfaces. Individuals aged 65 and older are one-third more likely than the rest of the population to suffer a slip and fall injury.

The bathroom can be retrofitted to make it safer and more accommodating to the limited mobility that seniors face. Here are several items to address when looking to make the family home more welcoming to the aging individuals’ needs.

  • Grab bars and hand rails: Grab bars should be installed in and around the bathtub/shower area. You may also want to install one near the toilet. If the aging relative has a difficult time going from a sitting to a standing position, consider installing a raised-seat for the toilet.
  • Non-skid surfaces: Bathtubs and showers should be equipped with a nonslip surface, regardless of the age of the person who uses it. There should also be a rug with non-slip backing to prevent falls when moving around the bathroom and getting in and out of the tub and shower. Loose rugs throughout the house should either be tacked down or retrofitted with non-slip backing.
  • Bathtub seating: In addition to grab bars, consider installing a bathtub chair for use by the aging individual. You can either set up a bathtub bench or install a chair for use in the shower. If your aging parent has a difficult time getting in and out of the bathtub itself, you may need to retrofit the tub with a shower stall or a tub with a minimal sized curb for them to step over.
  • Light it up: The bathroom, and every other room of the home, should be well it. Upgrade to higher wattage bulbs, install night lights in darkened hallways, put up touch lamp type fixtures in other areas as a handy way to light a dark staircase or hallway. Install night lights that turn on and off when the ambient light waxes and wanes.
  • Keep it close: Moving items to easy-to-reach shelves to remove any need for climbing on step stools is one way to help the senior. Switching from glassware for drinking cups, coffee mugs and dinner plates to plastic can remove the potential for cuts if the items fall from their hands to the floor.

Taking these steps to make the home more accommodating to the family member as he or she ages may allow him or her to stay in the home and age in place, a trend that is being embraced by more individuals. Don’t forget, that as your loved ones age, you will want to talk to them about the possibility of having a home medical alert device installed. With this equipment, the elderly individual wears a medical alert device such as a bracelet or pendant and if they suffer a fall or other medical emergency, at the push of a button, help is summoned. These devices, available for less than a dollar a day at LifeFone, offer peace of mind to both the elderly and their family.

How to Avoid Online Pharmacy Fraud

Medication can be a very costly expense, and as such it seems entirely practical for people to explore online pharmacies to compare prices and save money. While this tactic may be helpful most of the time, you and your elderly loved ones should be careful about what online pharmacies you put your trust in.

Untrustworthy online pharmacies often fill orders without prescriptions, and the doctors are usually unaware if the other medications you are currently on will cause complications when combined with what they prescribe you. Online pharmacy sites may send products that are fake, have dangerous ingredients, do not meet FDA standards or are past their expiration date. In order to make sure you and your elderly loved ones don’t fall victim to pharmacy scams, or worse jeopardize your health, it is important to take the following precautions:

  • Verify the online pharmacy’s authenticity: Make sure the online pharmacy you are looking at requires a prescription from a licensed doctor. If the website will provide you with drugs based on an online questionnaire, it is usually a sign the pharmacy is bogus. When filling prescriptions it is best to purchase your medications from places in which the pharmacists and physicians consult about dosages and reactions.
  • Locate Contact Information: Before trusting your prescriptions with an online pharmacy make sure the contact information for the site is readily available. You should be able to easily locate an address and telephone number, if you cannot find this information, do not trust the site.
  • Make sure the website is secure: Do not give out personal information such as your Social Security Number, credit card or health information unless you have verified that the website is secure. Read the website’s privacy policy as well.
  • Ensure your order can be tracked: Only purchase medications that allow you to track your order through an external source like the USPS, FedEx and UPS. If your order does not arrive at your doorstep, you will be able to track where it went.
  • Only use pharmacies that are certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy: Sites that are certified by the NAPB display the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites seal. The seal means that the site meets state and federal requirements. If you are purchasing medications from a Canadian site make sure it is a member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.

Following these guidelines will put both you and your loved ones in less risk when using online pharmacies. Ensuring the pharmacies you use are trustworthy will save both your health and your money. If you run into problems with online pharmacies, be sure to notify the FDA at 301-443-1240.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week

Falls among the elderly is a serious problem and growing!  One out of three people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year.  According to theCDC, the direct and indirect cost of injuries from falls is expected to reach $54.9 billion by 2020!  Fall awareness and prevention becomes ever more important as our population ages.

Thankfully, many falls and fall related injuries can be prevented.  In an article called Making Your Home Safe for Seniors, we provided steps you can take to reduce the risk of a fall.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 18 – 24, 2011 with many states taking part.  Fall Prevention Awareness Day, Friday, September 23 is an opportunity to become involved in your local area activities.  While activities vary by location, they include educational programs and home safety checks.

With autumn approaching at a fast pace, examine your home and those of the elderly to identify hazards. Consider risk factors such as poor eyesight, prior injuries that may cause walking problems, physical activity levels and other hazards.  As Baby Boomers age, the impact of a fall creates greater financial and emotional burdens. Education, examination and awareness is key to helping reduce the impact of falls and related injuries.

 

Fall Prevention Awareness Week

Falls among the elderly is a serious problem and growing!  One out of three people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year.  According to theCDC, the direct and indirect cost of injuries from falls is expected to reach $54.9 billion by 2020!  Fall awareness and prevention becomes ever more important as our population ages.

Thankfully, many falls and fall related injuries can be prevented.  In an article called Making Your Home Safe for Seniors, we provided steps you can take to reduce the risk of a fall.

Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 18 – 24, 2011 with many states taking part.  Fall Prevention Awareness Day, Friday, September 23 is an opportunity to become involved in your local area activities.  While activities vary by location, they include educational programs and home safety checks.

With autumn approaching at a fast pace, examine your home and those of the elderly to identify hazards. Consider risk factors such as poor eyesight, prior injuries that may cause walking problems, physical activity levels and other hazards.  As Baby Boomers age, the impact of a fall creates greater financial and emotional burdens. Education, examination and awareness is key to helping reduce the impact of falls and related injuries.

 

How Can Your Loved One Stay at Home as They Age?

As our loved ones begin to age, they are inevitably faced with this perplexing question: How can they remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own home without jeopardizing their health or safety? Adult-proofing one’s home is an obvious first step, but what exactly does that entail?

  1. The first thing the elderly should invest in is a personal emergency response system. Medical alerts lend themselves well to providing both you and your loved one peace of mind, given the fact that your loved one has an emergency response button located on his or her body in the form of a bracelet or necklace. When emergency strikes, your loved one simply has to press the button and presto! help is on the way. With some medical alerts as low as $24.95 per month like LifeFone, purchasing a personal emergency response system is the perfect first step in insuring your loved one can remain in his or her home. Continue reading

4 Alternatives to Assisted Living

America’s senior citizens are living longer more active lives, and have fast become the largest-growing sector of society. With a ballooning population, thanks to advances in medical science, better access to health care and better living conditions, more living options are available for the elderly outside of assisted living facilities.

  1. Staying at Home: One of the most disconcerting fears regarding aging among the elderly is the loss of ability to live independently. Ideally, most elderly individuals would prefer to live their remaining years in the comfort of their own homes. Those requiring daily assistance are finding it easier to manage their lifestyle by buying a medic alert system, relying on a part-time caregiver and hiring someone to help with the cleaning and shopping. With a few extra costs, staying at home is becoming a viable option for some elderly.
  2. Combining Staying at home with Adult Day Care: Some elderly individuals require more hands on care during the day. For them, adult day care facilities are available. These facilities combine medical, nursing and therapeutic services with fun daily activities and meal services. Spending the day in a stimulating environment with the ability to return to the comfort of their own bed at night, allows many seniors the control and stability they crave.
  3. Senior Communities: Individual apartments inhabited by the 55+ community for the more social elderly crowd offers social activities, meals and assistance with daily activities depending on the level of need. Elderly adults can maintain their own living space while having the comfort of knowing help is available at the push of a medic alert button.
  4. Independent Living Centers: Following a major surgery, a stroke or any other debilitating injury, Independent Living Centers provide intensive physical therapy to assist individuals to relearn everyday skills. These facilities are similar to adult day care in that they provide daily care for the elderly, while still allowing them to return to their own household at night. Therapy is also administered daily as opposed to receiving care two or three times a week.

Choosing how to spend remaining years is a delicate decision that should be assessed by the individual whenever possible.  As with all mentioned lifestyles, seniors determine what is most practical for them by assessing their health, mobility and finances. Having choices provides peace of mind, comfort and security during a time of important decision making.

 

Making Home Safe for Mom and Dad

The Christmas tree is down, the New Year’s Celebration is over, and now it’s time to get back to the daily routine you are so familiar with.  Nagging in the back of your mind, however,  may be the visit you just had with your parents and your concern for their safety as they age.

Spending longer periods of time with family during the holidays sheds some light on things that your parents did so easily before but seem to have trouble with at this stage of life. You may have noticed mom or dad slowing down and that their current home not as safe for them as it once was.  AARP  offers design and product suggestions for your home that can increase safety, comfort, and convenience. If you’re considering a new location for your loved one or can make some of these modifications on your own, these are helpful suggestions.