Posts Tagged ‘fall prevention’

Unintentional Injuries: How Can You Protect Yourself?

According to the National Safety Council, more than 145,000 deaths in 2015 were the result of unintentional injuries. Topping the list is poisoning, usually as a result of a prescription drug overdose. Motor vehicle crashes come in second for unintentional-injury-related deaths. Everyone can do their part to make the roads safer by not texting while driving or driving while tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In terms of unintentional injuries, the elderly are especially at risk for dying from falls or suffocation by choking. Fortunately there are many steps you can take to reduce your risk for falls. Keeping floors clear and uncluttered, making sure indoor and outdoor lighting is sufficient for visibility, installing grab bars and no-slip mats in showers and tubs, and keeping often-used items easily accessible are just a few ways you can reduce fall risk. In addition, staying active and practicing yoga or tai chi can improve balance and coordination, which can significantly reduce your risk of falling.

For more information on fall prevention and protecting yourself from unintentional injury or death, visit the National Safety Council’s website.

June Newsletter: National Safety Month

Senior couple in love during retirement - Happy elderly concept

Our June newsletter has gardening tips, senior safety information, local events, sun safety and skin cancer facts and much more! Click here to read our June newsletter.

FAQs: Concerned About Your Aging Love One?

Below are the answers to some common questions you many have about in-home care and helping your loved one remain at home as long as possible.

What are some signs my aging parents might need extra help?

You come home for a weekend visit with your elderly parents and are shocked by what you see. Maybe your always put together mother looks disheveled, your dad hasn’t shaved in days and there are dishes, laundry and bills piling up around the house. Perhaps the grass is overgrown and the garden needs weeding. It might not be this drastic–you might only notice one or two things that seem out of the ordinary, but it’s obvious that keeping up with a house and yard is slowly overwhelming your parents, despite their assurances to the contrary.  An in-home caregiver can help your parents maintain their independence at home while keeping up with household tasks such as cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, and personal hygiene.  Visit our blog for more warning signs your parents may need a little extra help around the house.

 

How can I be sure my dad is eating nutritious meals now that mom has passed away?

Cooking for one can be a lonely task and isn’t very appealing to a lot of people. If your loved one has come to rely on fast food, cereal, or canned soup for their meals, they might need some extra motivation or external help to maintain a healthy diet. If you live close, have them over for a home cooked meal once or twice a week. Offer to take them grocery shopping and help them choose instant oatmeal, fresh fruit, frozen veggies that can be heated on the stove, and healthier prepared foods to have on hand. If you work full-time or live out of town, a caregiver can help with the grocery shopping and meal preparations, while keeping an eye on any dietary restrictions. Our blog Healthy Food Choices for Budget-Conscious Seniors offers advice on shopping for nutritious, easy to prepare foods that are friendly on the wallet.

 

What can provide peace of mind that my aging parents are keeping all of their medications and dosages straight and making it to all of their doctors’ appointments?

While managing multiple prescriptions, including dosing, refills, and potential drug interactions, can be daunting for anyone, it can be downright dangerous for someone whose cognitive abilities are declining due to Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Missed doses and overdoses can have serious consequences. If you are concerned about your parents’ capacity to manage their prescriptions, it’s never too early to get involved. If you live close and are comfortable that all they need is a reminder, there are several medication reminder apps available. If their cognitive function is declining because of dementia or another reason, an in-home caregiver can make sure they are taking the right doses at the right times, help with transportation to pick-up refills and more. Our blog Taking Senior Safety Seriously highlights popular apps that can help keep medications, doses and dosing schedules straight.

 

How can I be sure mom doesn’t fall and suffer a serious injury while living home alone when I can’t check on her?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three Americans age 65+ fall each year. Unfortunately, many people don’t discuss their fall with family or their physician because they are worried how everyone will react and don’t want to feel like their independence is threatened. Falls are serious—they are the leading cause of nonfatal and fatal injuries in older adults according to the CDC. There are a number of things you can do to help “fall proof” your parents’ home. Visit our blog for tips. If you can’t check in on your loved one but worry they are at high risk for falling, an in-home caregiver can help give you peace of mind that your loved one is safe when you can’t be there with them.

 

When is the right time to have a conversation with mom and dad about their future health and care needs?

While it is a difficult conversation to have, everyone will be happier in the long run if you have a conversation with your parents about long term care options sooner rather than later. Try starting the conversation by saying you want to make sure their wishes are met and that having the conversation before any serious decisions have to be made will keep the discussion open-minded and rational rather than emotional and heated. Topics to cover are who do they want to have power of attorney, are their wills updated, their financial situation and any long term health care insurance they have. Try to involve all of the siblings in the conversation so that everyone will be on the same page when and if something happens to mom or dad. Other important topics to discuss are whether they wish to remain in their home as long as possible or would they be more comfortable in a senior facility. Are they comfortable having an in-home caregiver help out should the need arise? Depending on where you are in the process, it might even make sense to research in-home care options with your parents. Read our blog Timing the Talk for more tips on long term care planning.

Healthy Living and Successful Aging

Article Courtesy of the National Care Planning Council

The United States is experiencing a remarkable increase in the number of people who live to an old age. Our older population (people 65 years or older) numbered nearly 40 million in 2009 (latest year of available data). These folks represent one in every eight Americans, or 13% of the population. By 2030, it is projected that the U.S will be home to more than 72 million people age 65 and older.

This astonishing increase is largely a result of medical and health care advancements that simply allow people to live longer. Currently, the average life expectancy of an American is about 80 years old (nearly double that of our ancestors).

Health is Wealth 

Living a long life is a goal most of us have in common. Ensuring that we spend the latter years of our life feeling healthy and happy should be an important part of that goal.

Health is indeed wealth, especially as we age. Embracing a healthy lifestyle and making health our number one priority will bring invaluable wealth to us as we age.

Although growing older is inevitable, there are many things we can do to avoid feeling older. Medical breakthroughs have and will extend our longevity, but how we decide to live our senior years will be crucial. Managing our physical health, maintaining relationships, following safety tips, and making adequate preparations to fund our retirement and long term care can help us make the most of our so-called ‘golden years.’

Below are suggestions for healthy living that will help each of us age successfully.

Stay Connected and Productive 

One of the most important things you can do to stay healthy and happy as you age is to maintain your sense of purpose by staying productive and connected to people and things that are important to you. Spend quality time with at least one person (a family member, friend or neighbor) every day. Seek out those who uplift and challenge you. Avoid secluding yourself.

You can also fill your days rendering service to others who are not as fortunate as you. Giving time for a cause beyond yourself brings with it a sense of purpose you can’t achieve anywhere else. Your wealth of wisdom and experience will continue to grow as you reach out to others.

Activities that can help you remain connected and productive include: gardening, cooking, knitting, volunteering at a library or hospital, helping neighbors, visiting museums, traveling, playing cards or games, joining a senior center, starting a book club, taking a class, attending church, or learning and using a social media like Facebook.

Finally, challenge yourself mentally. Reading books or newspapers, doing crossword puzzles, drawing or painting, writing, studying, or learning to play a musical instrument are effective and fun ways to keep your mind sharp.

Collect and Write Family Histories 

Those who pursue the gathering and writing of personal and family histories are always rewarded. As one of the older people in your extended family, you likely hold memories of people, places, and events that might be lost forever upon your passing. In this case, you are the family history. Don’t let it be lost to future generations. Take the time to preserve your heritage by writing these memories down.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a significant part of good health at every age. Unfortunately, many older adults do not get enough physical activity and exercise. Staying active can improve vitality, help maintain strength and flexibility, expand mental function, decrease risk for health problems, and may even help relieve chronic pain.

Find an activity you enjoy then ease into it at a pace and consistency your body can handle. Try to include a variety of endurance, strength, stretching, and balance exercises in your routine. Exercise choices may include yoga, walking, swimming, biking, gardening, and exercises classes designed for seniors. The key to successful exercising is variety.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.

Prepare Financially 

For some, successful aging equates to financial responsibility, making sure that they have the right Medicare health plan, long term care insurance coverage and enough money to cover the costs of health care in retirement.

As soon as you have a job and a steady income, begin to plan frugally for retirement and the decades which follow. Planning early will help you to avoid unnecessary debt and live more comfortably during your final years. Use caution in cosigning financial notes (even with family members) when retirement income might be jeopardized. As you near retirement, be even more cautious about “get-rich” schemes, mortgaging homes, or investing in uncertain ventures. In all financial aspects, proceed cautiously so that the planning of a lifetime is not disrupted by one or more poor financial decisions.

The National Care Planning Council provides lists of eldercare planning services to help the public prepare for the years following retirement. The list includes care management services, financial advisers, elder attorneys, reverse mortgage specialists, advocates for veterans, home care services, and other types of eldercare providers.

Have a Healthy Diet and Lifestyle 

Don’t smoke, eat right, and practice good hygiene. We’ve all heard these tips before, but we repeat them so often because they are crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Eating right should include consuming nutrition-packed meals every day. Extra weight from poor diet choices increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Staying healthy also has the very practical impact of reducing out-of-pocket health care costs. A healthy person spends far less time at the pharmacy, the doctor’s office, and even the hospital.

Prevent Injuries from Falling 

Falling is one of the most common causes of injury among seniors. Simple home modifications, the use of assistive devices, wearing sensible footwear, and removing hazards can reduce the risk of falling and the injuries that come with it.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly 

About 80 percent of seniors are living with a chronic condition. Many chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, can often be prevented.

Visit your health care provider regularly and follow their recommendations for screening and preventative measures. Screenings are particularly helpful as they serve as an early warning system. Much of the illness and disability associated with aging can be prevented (or slowed down) when you have the benefit of early detection. Regular dental, vision and hearing checkups should also be taken into consideration.

One of the most common conditions affecting older men is enlargement of the prostate gland, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Among aging women, a loss of bone density (osteoporosis) is a particular concern.

Many people age 70 and older seek the care of a geriatric physician, also called a geriatrician. Geriatric physicians are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and disability in older adults.

Summary 

Growing older is inevitable, but there are many things we can do to avoid feeling older. Medical breakthroughs have and will extend our longevity, but how we decide to live as we age is crucial. Managing our physical health, maintaining relationships, being productive, taking safety precautions, visiting our health care providers often, and making adequate preparations to fund our retirement and long term care can help us make the most of our senior years.

For more information on aging issues, visit the National Care Planning Council’s website at www.longtermcarelink.net.

Celebrating Older Americans Month: Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.

The Elders

Home Care Plus is celebrating Older Americans Month this May! This year’s theme, Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow. is focused on educating older adults on how they can stay safe from unintended injuries. Older Americans Month, sponsored each May by the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL), is placing emphasis on injury prevention, including fire, motor vehicle, and consumer product safety; improper use of medicine; and more.

According to ACL, “unintentional injuries to this population result in at least 6 million medically treated injuries and more than 30,000 deaths every year.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites falls as the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65+. More than 21,700 older adults die from falls each year, and every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury. The medical cost of falls is currently estimated to top $30 billion each year.

It is a common misconception that falls are a normal part of aging, and they can be prevented through a combination of interventions. These include exercising, getting a fall risk assessment, reviewing medications, having vision and hearing checked, and making the home environment safe. More tips are available at www.ncoa.org/FallsPrevention.

The CDC has prepared a home fall prevention safety checklist, called Check For Safety, that is a great resource for anyone looking to fall proof their or their loved ones’ home. Put safety first as you age to celebrate many healthy tomorrows!