Tag Archives: elderly safety

Keeping The Elderly Safe In A Heat Wave


Summer will bring with it long, lazy days of sunshine and chances are heat emergencies will also arise as a result. As a general rule, the National Weather Service issues a heat advisory when the heat index meets a certain threshold. These are the days when checking on your loved one is ever more important!

Heat is as dangerous to the health of your elderly loved ones as is the cold in the winter. There are symptoms both you and your elderly loved ones should be aware of. These symptoms include:

  • A throbbing headache
  • Increased body temperature
  • Skin that is extremely hot and dry to the touch
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Dizziness and/or nausea or vomiting

The symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include:

  • Weakness or lethargy
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pale, cold or clammy skin
  • Weak pulse
  • A body temperature of 106 degrees or more
  • Unconsciousness

Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. If your parents live alone and are in an area of the country where excessive heat could be an issue, equipping their home with a medical alert device can offer peace of mind for both of you should they begin feeling the effects of the heat. With the press of the medical alarm button, assistance is available.

The elderly don’t adjust well to either extreme cold or extreme heat. The medications that your aging parent may be on can also contribute to issues with heat toleration and these factors combined can put additional stress on their hearts.

There are steps you can take to “heat-proof” your aging relative’s home in the event there is a heat emergency or simply for those overly-warm summer days that will be upon us soon:

  • Advise them to eat lighter, smaller meals
  • Use a whole-house air conditioner if possible. If this isn’t possible equip at least one of the rooms with a window air conditioner so they can spend time in that one cooled room. If neither of those options are viable, the home should at least have fans running to help create a cross breeze.
  • They should avoid alcohol and caffeine and drink at least two to four cups of water every hour
  • Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing
  • Relax and don’t exercise during the hottest parts of the day
  • If they need to go outside, make certain they carry a bottle of water with them and wear a hat and sunscreen
  • Taking a cool shower or soaking in a tepid bath will also help alleviate the stress of the heat

Make certain no matter what your parents do, that they always have their medical alert pendant on them at all times. They may be unaware they’re suffering heat stroke until the symptoms overtake them.

Helping Your Aging Relative To Remain Mobile

Statistically, elderly drivers are safer drivers than younger ones. Research finds that they wear seat belts, avoid the roads in inclement weather, avoid rush hour and overall drive fewer miles than most. That isn’t to say there aren’t risks that come with aging – medications, reduced mobility and other medical conditions can all conspire to make driving more of a challenge for your aging relative.

Just as your relatives are likely looking to age in place and have assistive devices such as home medical alert bracelets to provide support, they may need to make modifications to their vehicles to allow them to remain mobile. Unless your relative’s physician has said he or she isn’t allowed to drive, look into these items to allow your relative to be able to stay behind the wheel.

Take your aging relative’s vehicle to a trained mechanic to make any of the changes mentioned below as they are not do it yourself projects:

  • Pedal extenders. Because some of us lose height as we age, we may no longer be able to comfortably reach the brake and gas pedals.
  • Add cushions for visibility. To improve the view of the road and traffic, there are cushions that can be fitted into the car for better views.
  • A spinner knob for the steering wheel. An occupational therapist may recommend this device for an individual who has diminished strength in one arm. The spinner lets them turn the wheel with only one hand.
  • Getting into and out of the car. Depending on the type of vehicle your aging relatives own, you may need to consider having a lift installed. There are lifts that can raise and lower the driver to the vehicle itself and also those for lifting wheelchairs.

Once they’re behind the wheel you need to make certain they are truly healthy enough to be on the roads – both for their safety and the safety of those around them. The elderly in your lives should be physically active even when they’re not behind the wheel and here are some other tips for safe driving habits:

  • Remain active and mobile and exercise regularly.
  • Don’t head out on a road trip unless you’re fully rested. Plan ahead for rest stops, choose a well-lighted, safe route.
  • Don’t travel alone.
  • Have your eyes checked and have your medications reviewed so there are no dangerous side effects that could impede driving ability
  • Try to always travel in the daytime.

If your aging loved ones don’t travel often but likes to have their vehicle for the occasional trip to the grocery store, perhaps their driving habits isn’t much of a concern. Having a vehicle parked in the driveway may simply be a matter of knowing they have the ability to drive if they want to even if they don’t drive very often.

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.

Safety Tips For Seniors In Winter Months

Caregivers understand that taking care of aging parents is a year round task but that is sometimes made even more difficult in the winter months. Winter and cold climates are difficult for almost anyone to deal with, but it is even harder for seniors and those who care for them. When the temperatures fall and the snow flies, safety challenges for aging loved ones increase.

The American Geriatric Society reports that older adults have a slower metabolism and because of this they have a hard time generating their own body heat and can become ill more quickly. Also, if the senior is afflicted by poor circulation, their ears, feet, hands and nose will be more affected by the cold. They have a hard time feeling warm and because of this it’s crucial that they stay bundled up when they’re outside and have dress in layers when they’re indoors.

Here are strategies to keep in mind for your aging relatives’ safety in the cold winter months:

  • Make sure the thermostat is set between 68 and 70 degrees. The thermostat set at that temperature will definitely add to their heating bill, but it is a necessary expense for their safety.
  • Make certain your aging relative has access to additional clothing so they can layer it on to keep warm. Advise them to wear layers of loose-fitting garments.
  • Space heaters can help keep a small area, such as the bedroom, warm and allows the senior to lower the heating in the rest of the house at night. Be sure the space heater is only used as directed and that it has all of the necessary safety features to keep your relative warm and safe.
  • Pile some additional blankets on the bed to keep them warm while they’re sleeping. If they choose not to use a space heater and want to save money on the heat bills, additional blankets will keep them warm during the night. Don’t use electric blankets because they can sometimes get too warm and can damage the delicate skin of the elderly.
  • If your elderly relative needs to go outdoors when you aren’t there to supervise (if they have to get their mail or walk the dog, for example) make certain they dress in layers, wear mittens (instead of gloves because mittens will keep their hands warmer) and a hat, scarf and boots. Make certain that even when they’re dressed in layers outdoors that they can still easily reach their medical alert pendant. In the event they fall while outside, one push of the button will alert the emergency response team and medical help will be dispatched if needed.
  • If they must go outside, additional care must be taken when it comes to ice and snow. Snow-melting rock salt should be readily available so they can sprinkle it on the steps before they go outside. If possible, hire a neighbor to keep their porch clear of snow and ice for those occasions when you can’t make it to check on them. Again, knowing your elderly loved one is wearing his or her medical alert device at all times will offer you both peace of mind in the event of a slip or fall.
  • Healthy meals are a must year round, but especially in the winter. Eating well-balanced meals are important to keeping the body’s internal heat up. Fill up on warm foods like soups and oatmeal – these are nutritious and comforting.
  • Make certain, too that if your elderly relative is paying her own bills that they are current on them, especially gas and electric bills.
  • If you live far away and can’t visit on a daily or every other day basis, look for local senior citizen agencies to see if they provide any kind of a “senior buddy visit” program or see if there are members from their church who would come and visit.

With pre-planning and additional attention to the comfort and safety of your aging loved one you can rest assured that they will be safe throughout the winter. The addition of a home medical alert system in their home, too, will add to the peace of mind both you – as the caregiver – and your aging relative need. With a home medical alert system, you can rest assured that if your loved ones falls or suffers another medical emergency, at the push of a button, emergency medical personnel will be dispatched.

Tips For Purchasing Your Medical Alert System

When an emergency situation arises, you aren’t usually able to pick up a phone and call for help, because of this it makes sense to equip your aging loved one with a home medical alert bracelet. Because trip and fall injuries are the biggest cause of injury and death among people 65-years-old or older, if they live alone and can’t get to a telephone to call for help, a simple fall could create a serious situation.

The number of elderly who desire to remain independent and age at home is increasing and this leads to a higher statistical probability that your aging loved one could be injured at home. If you don’t live close by and your aging relative doesn’t have someone who stops in to visit them on a daily basis, they could suffer a fall and not be discovered for days. Using a medic alert bracelet offers both of you peace of mind.

How do medical alert systems operate? A home medic alert system has a waterproof medical alert bracelet and a console. You can get a medic alert bracelet or pendant for your aging loved one and during an emergency situation such as a trip or fall, the person presses a button and it connects automatically to the monitoring company. This sets a flurry of activity in motion when the monitoring alert is activated. Customer service reps check on the individual and put the action plan in motion. 

What do you look for? When making a decision on a medical alert system there are several items you will want to keep in mind.

  1. What type of contract, if any, do you need to sign with the medical alert service provider? Does your provider offer a customizable emergency care plan?
  2. Does the service provider offer its own monitoring center? If so, this means you can rest assured that the individual who is on the system will receive quick, quality service.
  3. Do the customer service representatives have any specialized training to handle potentially critical situations?
  4. Does the service provider offer any assistance after you purchase to help guide you thru the process of installation or setting up the emergency medical information?
  5. Are you encouraged or offered periodic testing of the equipment? Testing helps ensure your medical alarm system is in perfect working order.
  6. Will your home medical alert monitoring system move with you if you have to move out of your home for a week or a season or longer? LifeFone moves along with you and can be reactivated by a simple phone call once you arrive at the new location.

You never want to compromise on the quality of service you’re purchasing for your aging loved one when it comes to a home medical monitoring system. There’s no way to put a price on the peace of mind you’re

5 Tips To Prevent The Elderly From Falling

Statistics show that one in every three adults over the age of 65 years suffers a fall annually. In addition to the serious injuries and death that can occur, the medical expenses incurred as a result of the falls totals more than $20 billion. Falls are typically the result of physical changes that occur as individuals age.

There are precautions that can be taken to reduce the dangers and if your loved one is determined to age at home, here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling:

  1. Trip and Slip Dangers: Due to reduced mobility as you age the possibility for a slip and fall accident increases. Make certain your aging parents wear shoes with non-slip soles and make certain they fit well. Remove all throw rugs or other small obstacles could be hazardous and place electrical cords behind furniture and not in the walkway. Non-skid wax should be used on hardwood and linoleum floors. Spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible.
  2. Physical Issues: Muscle weakness, pain in joints when walking , dizziness and other illnesses can lead to falls in the elderly. Health exams and using medications in proper dosages can prevent balance and joint pain problems. Before taking any over the counter medications, your loved one should check with their physician to see if there could be any negative interactions with their prescriptions. Another way to make certain your elderly parent or family member stays safe at home is by equipping their home with a medical alert system. These alerts and medical bracelets allow the elderly individual to press a button and summon help in the event of a fall or other medical emergency.
  3. Light It Up: High watt bulbs should be used in light fixtures and night lights are a good idea to light up hallways or other dark areas. Also place power-interruption flashlights in strategic locations. With these in place, should the power goes out, the flashlights will turn on.
  4. Fix It Up: Thick carpets can cause trip and fall hazards so if you’re considering a remodeling project, remove carpets and install non-slip floors. There should be handrails on all stairs and grab bars in the bathtub and shower. Purchase a bathing stool and install a handheld shower nozzle. Every bathtub and shower should have a non-slip bath mat.
  5. Safe At Home Living: If your elderly loved one uses a cane or walker, they can help reduce the risk of falling but it’s vital that there are no items such as furniture or carpeting that the walker or cane should get stuck on. Living safely at home means that your loved one should also try to remain physically active whether that means take an age-appropriate exercise class, a daily walk, or other exercises approved by their doctor.

If all of these steps are taken and your elderly loved one is equipped with a home medical alert system you will have greater peace of mind and the medical alert will allow them to age at home more independently.

Read More:  Making Your Home Safe for Seniors

Bathroom Safety and Importance of Waterproof vs. Water-resistant Med Alerts

More accidents occur among the elderly in the bathroom than in any other room in the house. The wet surfaces, sharp countertop edges and tight spaces all lend themselves to the possibility of an injury. Seniors who are unsteady on their feet are at an even greater risk of falling in the bathroom. According to the National Safety Council, one person dies from using the bathtub or the shower every day in the United States. With such a startling statistic, it is a good idea to be prepared in the event your loved one experiences a fall.

When it comes to bathroom safety, one of the most effective tools your loved one can possess is a waterproof medical alert button. Seniors who have waterproof medical alert pendants or bracelets should never get in the shower without their device. It is important for seniors to note the difference between “waterproof” and “water resistant.” Waterproof necklaces and pendants, like the ones LifeFone carries, can be worn in the shower and can even be completely submerged in the bathtub. Water-resistant devices, however, cannot withstand the effects of being submerged in water like they would be in the bathtub. Most companies that sell water-resistant devices encourage their users to remove their pendants prior to bathing. Since bathtubs and showers pose one of the greatest threats to seniors, it only makes sense that they have a medical alert bracelet or pendant that is waterproof and can be worn in the shower.

In addition to ensuring your loved one owns a waterproof medical alert button, there are other precautions that should be taken into account when it comes to bathroom safety. It is important to install grab bars, a hand-held shower, a wall dispenser for soap and a bathing bench or stool for your loved one, but even after all of those installations are made, you are still not in the clear. Despite all of these precautions your loved one could still fall in the tub or shower.

If your loved one were to have an accident in the bathroom, how would you get in to help them? If your loved one locks the door while he or she is in the bathroom you should consider making a spare key to the bathroom door so that you can easily get into the bathroom if you need to. You can also replace the doorknob with one that cannot be locked.

By following the above bathroom safety guidelines you may not be able to ensure that your loved one will not experience a fall, but you can ensure that their risk of falling will be reduced and that help will arrive as soon as possible if they are wearing a waterproof medical alert button.

Staying Safe During the Holiday Season

As you prepare to visit with loved ones, take time to look at their surroundings to ensure they have a safe environment.  To help, download a copy of our guide, “Staying Safe During the Holiday Season” and use it as a tool to guide you.

At LifeFone, we believe the best way to handle emergencies is to try to avoid them. But when they do happen, it’s important to be prepared. That’s why we’re here to help at the press of a button 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For more information, just call us at 1-800-882-2280.

Ensuring Safety in the Home

As you prepare to visit with loved ones, take time to look at their surroundings to ensure they have a safe environment. Download a copy of our guide, “Staying Safe During the Holiday Season” and use it as a tool to guide you.

At LifeFone, we believe the best way to handle emergencies is to try to avoid them. But when they do happen, it’s important to be prepared. That’s why we’re here to help at the press of a button 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For more information, just call us at 1-800-882-2280.

Ensuring Safety in the Home

As you prepare to visit with loved ones, take time to look at their surroundings to ensure they have a safe environment. Download a copy of our guide, “Staying Safe During the Holiday Season” and use it as a tool to guide you.

At LifeFone, we believe the best way to handle emergencies is to try to avoid them. But when they do happen, it’s important to be prepared. That’s why we’re here to help at the press of a button 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For more information, just call us at 1-800-882-2280.