According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 50% of all falls happen in the home, resulting in 2 million emergency room visits annually. Knowing how to prevent these accidents from happening is a step toward keeping seniors in their homes. Protecting yourself or your loved ones can be as simple as paying attention to the three most common threats:
Housekeeping Practices & Falls
- Keep the home clear of obstacles. Remove things likely to be tripped over, such as shoes, cords, throw rugs and step stools. Shoes should remain in a designated area, cords can be hidden or organized and throw rugs can be taped down. If higher cabinets and storage require a step stool, move those items to shelves and countertops within reach instead.
- Install safety precautions. Have grab bars, handrails and better lighting mounted in problem areas like staircases and showers.
- Stop the age-old practice of taking shoes off at the door. Bare feet and slippers offer less traction control, making floors more slippery. This is an especially pertinent problem during the winter, when you or your loved one may feel safer leaving wet, snowy shoes at the door.
For more information on ways to prevent falls in the home, click here.
- While seniors only make up 13% of the population, they account for roughly 33% of all prescription drugs. While these medications are often prescribed to the senior ingesting them, and for genuine health concerns, consuming the appropriate and recommended dosage can be a challenge. If you or a loved one are suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, difficulties remembering the last time a pill was taken can result in taking it twice. A calendar, pill organizer or other systematic way to monitor medicine usage can help regulate intake and avoid overdosing or the skipping of doses.
- Mixing medications is another challenge seniors face. A drug interaction occurs when two or more drugs react with each other — it can make drugs less effective or cause harmful side effects. If you or your loved one are seeing more than one health care provider or fill prescriptions at different pharmacies, mixing those prescribed medicines can get overlooked and cause an adverse reaction.
- There’s a greater risk of falling for those taking four or more prescription drugs. Some medications have side effects related to dizziness or unsteadiness. On their own, or in a medicine regimen, they are predisposing you or your loved one to falling.
Household Appliances & Fires
- While hot, summer months pose threats to seniors, such as heat stroke and dehydration, winter provides a variety of other issues for seniors. Snow-covered surfaces and social isolation are a few of the challenges winter produces. You or your loved one may install space heaters for warmth. Alternative heating methods such as these are a main cause for house fires. For safe use, keep them at least 3 feet from flammable objects and turn off and unplug them when not in use.
- Cooking fires account for 36% of fire-related injuries and 40% of house fires. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that the elderly face a 2.5 times greater risk of dying in a kitchen fire than their younger counterparts. Bumping into pot handles that stick off the side of the stove or leaving stoves or ovens unattended are common burn and fire instigators. You and your loved one can prevent these hazards by turning pot handles inward and always monitoring cooking food.
- Small appliances are often overlooked when you or your loved one may be checking for fire hazards. Yet, toasters, curling irons, etc. can be potentially hazardous if left turned on. They can fall into a sink or bathtub and cause a lethal shock, ignite clothes or towels nearby or burn skin that comes into contact with them. The best course of action is to unplug all small appliances when not in use.
While many fires can be avoided, having a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector are crucial.
Enlist Granny NANNIES for help with minor housekeeping, medication management or assistance preparing meals. Granny NANNIES is a home health care agency dedicated to ensuring patients and their loved ones receive the home care they require and deserve. Providing specialized in-home care services to the elderly through kind and compassionate Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Home Health Aides (HHAs) has been a priority since its establishment in 1990. If you or a loved one are looking to stay at home, Granny NANNIES is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To be treated with the highest level of respect and dignity and receive personalized in-home care services, call 800-316-2669.