Category Archives: Senior Safety

Aging Does Have Its Benefits, Part 1

Baby boomers are learning that growing older is far better than we expected. We are not aging the same way our parents and grandparents did and our quality of life is in many ways the best ever. Always resistive, always resistant, and always resilient, we are thriving on many levels. Turns out, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks.Aging Benefits

There is lots of credit we could give for the fact that we are (for the most part) living better lives “at this age” then our parents did. First of all, healthcare has been finding new solutions to old problems every day and we have that huge advantage. Far more focus has been placed on preventive medicine and so we are monitoring our health more closely with great benefits. Finding and diagnosing problems early makes them far more manageable. That is true for our aging bodies.

We will discuss some more factual stuff in part two … but for now let’s laugh and think about stuff. Most of us are not sure how we got to be this old so quickly but we did. Our viewpoint of aging has changed significantly and we are not aging the same way our parents and grandparents did. We are doing it with fervor and some defiance … a good quality that has always defined us.

Getting older has caused us to come to understand that we have some options we never had before. We don’t have to get up and go to work. We don’t really have to do much that we don’t want to and with no cynicism, that is freedom. Our intentional focus on fitness and health has kept many of us healthy and active well into our senior years. We earned this.

One of the benefits of healthy aging is the understanding that we have far more control than generations before us. Though sometimes life gives us unexpected things, we have a great deal of control. We can control our diet. We control our exercise. We control our choices and all those stupid choices we made earlier in our life are over. We control our forgiveness for those mistakes. And we can decide how we play out life.

All in all, life is great and we can embrace that. For the moment, we ARE getting older and there are benefits to that. Big benefits. Part 2 is just around the corner.

Summer Safety Tips For Seniors

 

Weather can play an important role in the health and well-being of the seniors in your life. Regardless of if you’re dealing with winter temperatures or the heat of summer, there are steps that need to be taken to keep your aging relatives protected.

Caregivers dealing with parents who are aging in place will need to take some time to make sure that mom and dad’s home is summer-ready. Here are some steps a caregiver can take to assure that their aging loved ones will be healthy all summer long:

  • Take steps to make sure the house is cool. You don’t need to have air conditioners installed (they do certainly help, though) to keep the house cool. You can close the blinds in the hottest part of the day, use fans to circulate the air, open windows to let in a cross breeze.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing. Wearing tight clothing and long sleeves can lead to overheating.
  • Don’t undertake outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day. If your parents are active, urge them to do their outdoor tasks, whether it’s gardening, mowing or simply taking a walk, in the early morning or the early dusk hours. Urge them not to walk in the dark, though.
  • Eat and drink wisely. Staying hydrated and drinking water is critical to staying healthy in the heat of the summer. Drink beverages without caffeine. When it comes to meals, try to stay away from using the oven. Cook lighter meals such as salads or sandwiches or meals that require little prep time or won’t require you to stand over a hot stove for lengthy periods.
  • Understand the signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion. If you’re feeling lightheaded, weak, or are vomiting, these could be signs of heat stroke. Urge your parents to keep track of their health when you’re not in attendance and if they feel any of these symptoms, they should get to a cool location, drink fluids and use a cool compress on their head and neck. A way to offer peace of mind to all family members, especially as the summer heats up, is to provide them with a home medical monitoring device and personal medical bracelets or necklaces. If they feel ill or suffer a fall, they can summon medical assistance at the push of a button.

As the caregiver, you will want to make sure you spend some time “summer proofing” the house to make sure it is as safe and cool as it can be.

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.

 

Health Tips For Preventing Falls In The Elderly

Because falls are the number one cause of injury-related deaths in the elderly, it is crucial that steps are taken to prevent both falls and the health issues that could lead to a fall. It’s also estimated that close to three million people, aged 65 and older, are treated in the emergency room for falls annually.

Death rates from falls in the elderly rose more than 55% between 1993 and 2003 and that could be because people are living longer, living alone, and are more frail, all factors which increase the likelihood of falls. One of the main reasons cited for admission into nursing homes or assisted living facilities is because of a fall.

As a caregiver, it’s crucial that you remain cognizant of the most common reasons the elderly suffer a fall, they are:

  • Medications that can cause disorientation, sleepiness or sleeplessness and dizziness
  • Visual impairment caused  by cataracts or glaucoma
  • Cognitive impairments caused by either Alzheimer’s or dementia
  • Balance issues which could be caused by mobility issues, loss of muscle strength or diminished      flexibility
  • Blood sugar or blood pressure issues that could lead to dizziness upon standing

If your relatives are determined to remain independent and age in place, there are steps they can take, and you can help them with, to make that a possibility. Here are some steps you can take to help them avoid a fall and help maintain a stronger body:

  • Eating a balanced diet and drinking milk or getting calcium or Vitamin D from the foods they eat will help keep their bones strong.
  • Bone-strength building exercises such as walking, dancing, aerobic exercise or resistance training helps build both bone and muscle strength. You should check with their physician first to see if they are healthy enough to undertake an exercise routine. Even if your elderly relatives use a walker or a cane they can still become more active simply by getting up and moving every hour.
  • Balance can be improved by practicing yoga and daily stretches
  • Annual hearing and vision exams will detect any issues before they cause a trip or fall accident.
  • Ask the pharmacist whether any of the medications they take can cause any dizziness issues, especially when used in combination with each other.
  • Avoid using alcohol as it can interact with medications and add to drowsiness or dizziness

As part of your elderly relatives aging in place, make certain the home has been age-proofed to prevent trips or falls. Here are some measures to take:

  • Make certain hallways and closets are well lit. Install motion sensor lights with timers that will turn on and off upon entering or leaving a room.
  • Keep all walkways clear of clutter and power cords
  • All rugs should be secured to the floor with non-slip tape
  • A lamp should be next to the bed where it can be easily reached during the night. A touch lamp is a great option and prevents having to fumble around in the dark to find the switch.
  • All stairways should be in good repair and should have non skid treads on them.
  • Handrails should be installed on all stairways and even next to the toilet.
  • Grab bars should be installed in the shower and bathtub.
  • The bathroom should also have non skid rubber floor mats to prevent stepping onto a wet floor.
  • Put items that you use regularly within easy reach. Waist height is ideal placement for items in the kitchen and bathroom.

Helping your elderly relatives age-in-place if a gift for all family members. You can also help your relatives remain independent by offering them a home medical alert device. These devices can be a literal lifesaver in the event of a trip or fall or other health emergency.

Can Home Automation Make Aging In Place A Reality?

Home automation may offer the aging relative in your life an opportunity to remain in his or her home for a longer period of time than may have been possible in the past. While home automation won’t address every issue that may arise, it can certainly add to the safety factor in your relatives’ home. The technology available ranges from home medical alert devices to the ability to not only talk with, but physically see, your relatives through the use of a web camera.

 

Statistics point to the fact that 10,000 individuals a day, in this country alone, will turn 65-years-old and when you consider that one in every three adults over the age of 65 will suffer a fall in the home, automated technology simply makes sense. There are automation devices on the market that not only help your aging relative in the home, but those that also help you to stay in touch with them if you’re not in close proximity. Devices such as medical alert pendants provide both safety and security as it is a literal lifeline to emergency medical help if the need arises.

 

As a way to help the senior citizen in your life embrace the Golden Years, you can add more peace of mind to their daily living by addressing issues that come with aging that include forgetfulness, falls, impaired senses and home maintenance.

 

As we age, forgetfulness is an unfortunate fact of life and this can be hazardous if your aging relative forgets to turn off the stove or coffee pot. Purchase electrical appliances that have an auto shut-off to aid in the event your love one is forgetful. There are home automation products on the market that can even shut off the current to a major household appliance like the stove; the product can be set to automatically shut off a circuit after the power has been drawing through it for a specified period of time. Taking medications at a specific time on a daily basis can also be enhanced through technology and can be as simple as setting up daily alerts through an alarm. You can schedule reminders through the computer that you use to have web cam conversations with your relative.

 

 

 

 

Doors and windows can be equipped with sensors that will sound if they are left ajar; LED strobe light sensors can also be utilized and these devices can aid those individuals with failing eyesight. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and maintained; if their hearing is failing make certain you look for detectors that have louder-than-usual sirens. Another way to prevent falls in the home, opt for motion sensor lights that will turn on when the individual comes into a room, these will also turn off after a specified amount of time and that will help in case they forget to flip the switch once they’ve left the room.

 

As we age, our bodies are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations and as such it can be useful to install and program thermostats that will turn the air conditioner or heater on and off when the house reaches a certain temperature. These devices can be programmed to turn up or down at various times throughout the day (and this can be a money-saving option). There are also thermostats that can be programmed remotely.

 

Depending on the health level of the senior citizens in your life, you may find it useful to install in home surveillance cameras as a way to monitor them when you’re not in the vicinity. Cameras can also be used to monitor outside entrances and in some cases you can set up monitors within the home that will allow your relative to see who is at the door before he or she goes to answer it.  

 

 Hold a family meeting to discuss which technologies make sense to install in the home to help your relatives age in place successfully.

 

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.

Five Senior-Friendly Upgrades To Consider

The Golden Years bring with them both advantages and disadvantages; more free time to enjoy all kinds of activities and yet, the possibility of falls, health issues and the possibility that your senior family member or friend may need to move to an assisted care facility.  In some cases a move to an assisted care facility or a nursing home may be inevitable but there are steps that can be taken to help your senior age in place for a longer period of time.

Because aging also brings with it decreases in agility, mobility and diminished faculties as it relates to hearing and eyesight, the home needs to become more senior friendly and there are many alterations that can be made to a home to make it more amenable to aging individuals.

Here are five ways to make the family home safer for aging individuals:

  • If the home is two levels, it may make sense to install a chair lift to help your aging relative make it safely to and from the second floor. Because stairs are one of the most dangerous places for those with limited mobility, stair lifts sometimes make sense. Installing handle bars throughout the house is also a way to enhance mobility; these handle bars can be placed in walkways and hallways to aid in getting around the house. Handle bars are also wise investments for the bathroom and bedroom.
  • Remove all clutter. In many cases, the elderly find it hard to part with items to which they’re sentimentally attached and this can lead to clutter and even trip and fall hazards. Clutter can also lead to a fall if it spills out into the walkways and makes mobility even harder to manage.
  • Outdoor stair ramps can also be useful for aging individuals that need to use the stairs to get in and out of the house. Ramps are easy to build and can either share space with steps or replace the staircase, but can be removed if the house is sold.
  • Automatic motion detection lighting can add safety inside and out.  These lights make it easier for the senior to navigate the home without fear of fumbling around for light switches and alleviate the need to remember to turn the lights off.
  • Bathroom remodeling is typically a wise investment. Consider installing walk-in bathtubs and seating areas in the shower stall. Non slip floor and bathtub mats and grip bars can also help prevent slip and fall accidents.

In addition to these steps, equipping the home with a medical alert system can be invaluable. These devices help elders age in place while providing peace of mind to both them and family members that if an emergency arises, they can easily summon emergency assistance.

Hints & Tips To Senior-Proof A Home

Serious injuries as the result of trips or falls are suffered by one in three adults over the age of 65 and many of these happen in the home. These falls can lead to broken bones and other injuries such as head trauma and even death.

Senior-proofing the home for items such as trip and fall hazards should be a matter of course for your aging relatives if they’d like to continue aging in place. Look for loose or slippery carpets and bathroom hazards. There are other items that need to be addressed as well.

Here are some items to consider if your parents want to continue living independently:

  1. Limit alcohol intake as this can lead to balance issues and cause a fall in addition to other health issues and potentially dangerous interactions with their medications.
  2. Have a full physical: Many falls could be prevented if your relatives have a full medical work up to address any issues that could lead to slip and fall accidents. Diabetes which has inherent poor circulation problems, low blood pressure and ear infections can also throw their balance off and lead to falls.
  3. Clean the medicine cabinet and track all medications. Clear out old prescriptions and outdated medications – over-the-counter and prescriptions. Make certain your relatives are taking the medications as prescribed and in the proper dosages. If the prescriptions are from different doctors, check with one of them or the pharmacist to make certain there is no risk of interaction.
  4. Stay fit and active: If your parents aren’t getting any exercise, they will lose muscle strength and tone and this will make it harder to walk and maintain their balance. The Centers for Disease Control recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for those aged 65 and older. This means walking at a brisk pace, undertaking some aerobic activity such as swimming or a senior exercise class or bicycling. If your aging parent has health conditions that make it impossible to do this, ask a physical therapist to recommend some stretching exercises to help keep them in shape.
  5. Get their eyes checked: An annual eye exam is a must and eyeglass adjustments if necessary. An eye exam will catch any vision issues and proper eyeglass prescriptions will help to prevent falls if they have clear vision.
  6. Eat healthy meals: Cooking may become less of a priority as you age but getting adequate nutrients and vitamins are essential to good health. Additionally, ask whether they should be taking any supplements to address bone health issues or other vitamin deficiencies.
  7. Use a cane or walker: If your aging relatives are suffering from balance issues have them fitted for a cane or a walker. This will help them be mobile, but take care that they purchase a cane that is specifically suited to their height as one that is too short or too tall can lead to a trip or fall.

Even with all of the above steps implemented, you may still want to take it one step further and sign your parents up for a home medical alert system. With these devices, your parents will wear a medical emergency alert pendant; if they suffer a fall or other health emergency, all they need to do is push the button, a call is made to the home and if no answer is received, emergency medical personnel are dispatched.

Hints & Tips To Senior-Proof A Home

Serious injuries as the result of trips or falls are suffered by one in three adults over the age of 65 and many of these happen in the home. These falls can lead to broken bones and other injuries such as head trauma and even death.

Senior-proofing the home for items such as trip and fall hazards should be a matter of course for your aging relatives if they’d like to continue aging in place. Look for loose or slippery carpets and bathroom hazards. There are other items that need to be addressed as well.

Here are some items to consider if your parents want to continue living independently:

  1. Limit alcohol intake as this can lead to balance issues and cause a fall in addition to other health issues and potentially dangerous interactions with their medications.
  2. Have a full physical: Many falls could be prevented if your relatives have a full medical work up to address any issues that could lead to slip and fall accidents. Diabetes which has inherent poor circulation problems, low blood pressure and ear infections can also throw their balance off and lead to falls.
  3. Clean the medicine cabinet and track all medications. Clear out old prescriptions and outdated medications – over-the-counter and prescriptions. Make certain your relatives are taking the medications as prescribed and in the proper dosages. If the prescriptions are from different doctors, check with one of them or the pharmacist to make certain there is no risk of interaction.
  4. Stay fit and active: If your parents aren’t getting any exercise, they will lose muscle strength and tone and this will make it harder to walk and maintain their balance. The Centers for Disease Control recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week for those aged 65 and older. This means walking at a brisk pace, undertaking some aerobic activity such as swimming or a senior exercise class or bicycling. If your aging parent has health conditions that make it impossible to do this, ask a physical therapist to recommend some stretching exercises to help keep them in shape.
  5. Get their eyes checked: An annual eye exam is a must and eyeglass adjustments if necessary. An eye exam will catch any vision issues and proper eyeglass prescriptions will help to prevent falls if they have clear vision.
  6. Eat healthy meals: Cooking may become less of a priority as you age but getting adequate nutrients and vitamins are essential to good health. Additionally, ask whether they should be taking any supplements to address bone health issues or other vitamin deficiencies.
  7. Use a cane or walker: If your aging relatives are suffering from balance issues have them fitted for a cane or a walker. This will help them be mobile, but take care that they purchase a cane that is specifically suited to their height as one that is too short or too tall can lead to a trip or fall.

Even with all of the above steps implemented, you may still want to take it one step further and sign your parents up for a home medical alert system. With these devices, your parents will wear a medical emergency alert pendant; if they suffer a fall or other health emergency, all they need to do is push the button, a call is made to the home and if no answer is received, emergency medical personnel are dispatched.

7 Ways to Avoid Elder Fraud

Elder fraud has become an epidemic among senior citizens, and as unfortunate as it may be, scam artists view your elderly parents as easy targets. Since elder fraud often goes unreported, the exact figures are unknown, but it is estimated that over $40 billion is stolen from senior citizens in the U.S. each year. While law enforcement is making strides in protecting against elder fraud, it is difficult to bring the perpetrators to justice since their trail usually leads to a dead end as schemers move on to the next fraud. It is important for caregivers to help their elderly loved ones protect themselves against fraud. The following list provides an outline of what the elderly should do to avoid becoming victims of fraud.

  1. Stay away from sending money and providing personal financial information: Elders should be wary about disclosing their bank information, credit card information and social security numbers. A common scam occurs when the elderly receive a check for a considerable amount of money, accompanied by directions instructing the recipient to call a phone number which prompts them to send in taxes on the money they have just received. Once the wire transfer has been received, the check the elderly received bounces. If your parents are not expecting a large sum of money, receiving one should be a red flag.
  2. Review documents thoroughly before signing them: Many con artists pose as door-to-door salesman and try to sell your loved one multiple products with a lot of paperwork that has to be signed right away to secure the ‘special’ offer. These ‘salesman’ are especially dangerous since they provide a face to the product, making them appear more trustworthy. One of the most important things elders can do to avoid being conned is to not allow anyone into their home that they do not know.
  3. Limit phone interaction with people you don’t know: Scammers target elderly individuals because they know they are more likely to talk at length over the phone than any other generation. Make sure your parents know that they should not answer extensive questions over the phone.
  4. Use well-known contractors for construction: If your parents are looking to do construction in their home, or make home improvements, it is important that they request references and consult the Better Business Bureau or the National Fraud Information Center. Make sure your parents sign a contract, and if the contractor wants all the money up front, let them know they should find a different contractor.
  5. Shred all documents containing personal information: Before throwing out bills or any information regarding your loved one’s financial information, you should shred the documents. Con artists often go through discarded mail to find bank account and credit card numbers, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers and more. Remind your loved ones to destroy this information.
  6. Steer Clear of health insurance scams: Lower income seniors often rely on their Medicare health insurance, which can lead to elder fraud. Unfortunately, shoddy ‘medical equipment companies’ target seniors for their Medicare numbers in exchange for free equipment. Be sure to forewarn your loved ones that their doctor must order and sign for all equipment in order for it to be covered by Medicare. Make sure your loved one knows not to give out their Medicare number to someone they do not know, that they always review their Medicare payments closely and that they verify ordered equipment with their physicians.
  7. Avoid signing up for sweepstakes: Seniors often sign up for sweepstakes, apply for free magazine subscriptions and enter contests by mail. Companies who engage in elder fraud keep records of these submissions and give out the information of susceptible elders, making your parents a higher target. They also keep track of who has been successfully scammed in the past.

If your elderly loved one has already been a target of elder fraud, make sure they report it. Seniors are often embarrassed to report elder fraud and thus these crimes often go unreported. The best way to avoid elder fraud is to educate yourself and your loved ones on common scams, and to use caution in all transactions and investments they make.