As we age, the potential for injury increases and our bodies’ ability to rehabilitate decreases. It’s a crucial to evaluate ways that we can remain safe and live out our golden years without accidents. Over the past weeks, our team has been scouring the internet for the best list of actionable tips. Here is what we’ve found. We hope this will be helpful in keeping you safe!
1. Get Regular Eye Exams
Eyesight is crucial to avoiding accidents. According to Richard Ueberfluss, author of Senior Home Safety Blog, “A senior’s eyesight could change dramatically from year to year. By having a regular exam, you can feel more confident that they can clearly see where they are going and any obstacles around them.” (Source: Can Your Loved One Safely Drive a Car?) This is especially important to seniors who drive but even if you do not, being able to just clearly see where you’re walking is important for avoiding falls.
2. Get a Fall Detection Wearable
According to Housecall’s Top 10 Senior Housing Trends of 2016, “wearable devices [can] automatically alert caregivers of a fall.” A wearable is a small device you can wear on your person at all times – such as a wristband or a necklace. These devices use new technology to sense if the wearer suddenly has a fall. Fast response is crucial for both survival and rehabilitation, so wearables that can immediately notify the caregivers or authorities of an accident can save lives.
3. Evaluate Your Home’s Safety
Because we’ve lived in our homes for so many years and are so familiar to our surroundings, it’s easy to ignore potentially unsafe situations. Jason Carlton at Intermountain Healthcare notes that “there are numerous ways a person can make their home safer, including removal of tripping hazards like floor rugs or power cords, adding grab bars inside and outside of the tub, and improving lighting in the home.” (Source: Senior Safety: Fall by Former President George H.W. Bush Highlights Dangers for Seniors).
We recommend printing out and going through Victoria Araj’s checklist for home safety: Home Safety Tips and Modifications for Seniors.
In addition to directly reducing the likelihood of falls, it will make you more comfortable in your home. According to Vince Baiera, a Registered Nurse, “many people who fall—even if they’re not injured—develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.” (Source: Top 5 Tips for Preventing Falls for Seniors). Making your home more safe can reduce this mental anxiety and help seniors become more active.
4. Keep Up Your Physical Fitness
As we get older, it’s easy to put off exercise due to aches or lower levels of energy. But exercising and physical fitness can actually be a virtuous cycle – giving you more energy and reducing aches. According to Kim D’Angiolillo, “physical fitness including weight-bearing activity helps strengthen muscles. Practice activities promoting good balance to help prevent falls. Working with a professional learning form and function sets the stage for good future practices. Learn proper body mechanics such as how to properly lift objects to prevent injuries such as sprains, strains and tears.” (Source: 7 Senior Safety Tips: Accident Prevention for the Elderly) Having a healthy body can also help you recover more quickly if you do sustain any injuries.
5. Create an Emergency Plan
Do you or your family members know what to do in case of an emergency? What do you do if someone falls, if there is a burglary, or if someone has a stroke? Elizabeth Bemis from United Methodist Homes suggests: “Know who to call in an emergency and have your phone programmed, accordingly. If you reside in an assisted living community, be sure you understand how the emergency response system works. Just like when you were living in a neighborhood, look out for others and know who to go to for help.” (Source: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Senior Citizens)
6. Eating & Drinking Healthy
This almost goes without saying but no safety checklist can be complete without this tip. It’s crucial to eat and drink properly as we age. Reduce red meats and carbs. According to Kyle Hill from HomeHero, “Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand to keep the immune system strong … [and] make sure [you] stay hydrated with plenty of juice, milk or water.” (Source: The Holidays: Safety Tips for Seniors)
7. Clean Up Your Medicine Cabinet
It’s common to find old and expired medicine in our cabinets. This can be confusing for seniors and is often the reason why seniors accidentally take the wrong medicine. Elizabeth Bemis notes that “whereas some medications still retain their potency after expiration dates, many do not and should be disposed of. Old liquid antibiotics, drugs comprised of organic ingredients and those requiring refrigeration should be safely discarded. Be sure to store medications in a cool, dark, dry place; the bathroom does not fit that category. A better place is an airtight plastic container on a shelf in your closet.” (Source: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Senior Citizens)
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