Help Older Adults Prevent InjuriesBy Home Security Source May 3 , 2010 | 10:05:00 amPosted in: Home, Personal Safety, Senior Safety
As we age, our eyesight and hearing diminish. Our sense of balance isn’t what it was. The density of our bones also thins. All of this makes us susceptible to more accidents and resulting injuries that may make it impossible for us to live alone.
But by being aware of these changes in our bodies – or those of our parents – we can help prevent accidents and lead longer, more independent lives.
Falls are common among the elderly. Here are a few ideas that can help prevent them.
• Make sure there is always adequate lighting in the home, garage, porch or backyard.
• Keep common walkways free of obstacles.
• Constantly check flooring or decking for uneven surfaces. Be careful using area rugs that can slip. Also be sure to keep floors dry.
• Wear pants or dresses that are not so long that they can cause a person to trip and wear well-fitted shoes with a non-slip sole.
• Install handrails in the bath or shower.
• Be sure to wear corrective lenses to improve vision.
• Exercise regularly to strengthen muscles and bones and increase balance.
• Use a walker or cane to help provide stability.
If you or your parent has fallen, don’t panic. Call for help immediately. That may not always be possible when an elderly person lives alone. For that reason, consider a personal emergency response system (PERS). These systems provide a waterproof wristband or pendant that an elderly person can wear 24 hours a day. By pushing the large button on the band or pendant, an injured person can reach a trained professional through a two-way intercom. If the base station is out of range for voice communication or the inured person can’t talk, emergency help will be sent automatically.
Accidental poisoning is another common problem for older folks. This often results from taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Be careful when taking medications and always:
• Go slowly. Make sure you or your loved one is taking the proper drug, in the proper amount and at the proper time.
• Don’t take medications prescribed for another person.
• Think twice about talking over-the-counter medications unless advised to do so by a doctor.
• Be sure to keep drugs in their original containers. Dispose of empty drug containers immediately.
Again, don’t panic if you or a loved one has taken the wrong drug or more than what was prescribed. Call for help immediately or use your personal emergency response system to summon assistance. If you find your parent or elderly relative unconscious and not breathing, perform CPR while you wait for help to arrive. If your loved one is unconscious, but breathing with good circulation, turn him or her onto a lateral position. Should you or your relative be conscious, drink plenty of water, but do not induce vomiting unless told to by medical personnel.
Burns can result in serious injury and are all too common among older people. They are often the result of accidents in the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. Being constantly aware can help you avoid these painful and debilitating injuries.
• While cooking, always pay attention to the stove. Turn handles on pans away from you to decrease the likelihood you will knock hot food onto yourself.
• Use well insulated gloves to pick up hot items from the stove or oven.
• Don’t drink or eat anything until it has cooled to a reasonable temperature.
• Carefully test the water temperature before getting into the bath or shower.
• If you use a space heater, don’t let it come into contact with your clothing or in direct contact with your skin.
If you are burned, again, don’t panic. Use your personal emergency response system or the telephone to summon help. Cover the burn site with sterile gauze, but don’t apply ointments to the injury unless told to do so by emergency personnel. Do not remove any clothing that adheres to the burn site.
Accidents do happen. But you can help yourself or your loved one avoid them by being aware and staying away from potential problems before they lead to serious injury.
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