As mentioned in our prior blog, we are going to focus on warning signs that your elderly loved ones may need assistance maintaining their independence at home. The biggest issue is safety. Are your elderly parents safe in their home? Can your parents safely maneuver the stairs? Is getting in and out of the bathtub difficult? Also, notice how your parents walk. Are they able to walk their usual distances or are they reluctant?
According to the CDC in 2010, 2.3 million non-fatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Falls are a real threat to our older population. Physical impairments increase a person’s risk of falling. Some of these impairments can include conditions related to balance or walking; vision; lack of sensation in the feet; muscle strength; cognition; heart condition and strokes; use of drugs that affect mental attention or lower blood pressure.
If your parents are unsteady on their feet, then they are at risk of falling. It is estimated that one in every three adults aged 65+ fall every year. And just the fear of falling can place a person in a higher risk category.
Here are some things that you can do immediately to make your elderly loved ones home safer:
- Say good-bye to thick or shag carpet and replace with low-pile, which is easier to maneuver. Remove rugs which can bunch and become tripping hazards.
- Clear tripping hazards, such as books, shoes, and magazines from pathways, stairways, and flooring. Tack all telephone and electrical cords to the walls.
- Mount grab bars next to the toilet and in the bathing area. Install a hand-held shower head and add a shower seat. Also, make sure that the bathing area is easy to enter and exit.
- As we age our eyes respond differently to various types of lighting. Glare in a sunlit room can be hazardous. Change curtains to filter the sunlight and add additional ambient lighting. Upgrade the wattage of lighting in areas where everyday tasks are being preformed, like the kitchen. Place nightlights in hallways, bathrooms, and other essential rooms of the home.
- Replace door knobs with lever handles which are easier to grip.
- Install railings in stairways and hallways.
As mentioned earlier the fear of falling is very real among the elderly; especially among those who have fallen in the past. This fear of falling can lead to lack of physical and social activities. They may stay at home and give up shopping, visiting friends, and cleaning. When people become less active, joints can become stiff and muscles can become weak. Stiff joints and weak muscles can further increase the risk of falling and make remaining active and independent more difficult. This fear manifests itself in a loss of mobility, coordination, balance and often is accompanied by a decline in overall physical fitness. This fear can even manifest itself into depression and emotional isolation.
The whole point of independent living is to do just that…Living. Doing what you enjoy and celebrating life’s ups and downs. If you have a concern about your elderly loved one’s ability to live safely and independently at home, then chances are your loved one does, too. Reach out and offer your parent some solutions. We would be more than happy to help you with all the options that are available to you in your area. Feel free to call us at the number listed above or fill-out the form on the sidebar.
The Stay At Home Team