Whether your elderly loved one is living in a nursing home or living alone in their own home, you may be wondering whether they are safe. It is a concern that many of us have, especially as our family members age.
The elderly are more susceptible to injuries than any other age group and are at a greater risk of sustaining an injury due to the fact that their bodies are less flexible and they may not be as aware of their surroundings as they once were. This can greatly affect the cost of their health insurance.
Even a minor fall can result in a fracture or broken bone, which can leave your loved one in a lot of pain and can lead to limited mobility or even an inability to live by themselves.
This is why it is important that you take steps to prevent your loved one from sustaining an injury. It is recommended that you visit them every couple of weeks and to check in on them throughout the day to ensure that they are safe.
Here are some of the most common injuries that can occur among the elderly and how to prevent them:
One of the most common injuries for the elderly is a fall. Falls account for more than 30 percent of all injuries in nursing homes. Elderly people are more likely to fall due to the fact that they reduce their speed and stride as they age.
You can reduce the likelihood of a fall by ensuring that your elderly loved one always has a handrail to lean on when they are walking up or down the stairs.
It might also be a good idea to provide them with a walking stick or a cane and make sure that they have a sturdy pair of shoes that provides them with good stability. If you notice your loved one taking longer than usual to get from one place to another, or needing assistance to get from the bed to the bathroom, it might be time to start thinking about getting an occupational therapist to assess them for mobility issues.
Slips and Trips
Another common injury for the elderly is a slip or a trip. Elderly people are at a greater risk of slipping and tripping due to the fact that they are less aware of their surroundings, and they may not be able to see very well or have poor balance.
Preventing a fall can be done by making sure that your elderly loved one has a non-slip mat in the bathroom and also one by the kitchen sink.
Elderly people usually have a hard time getting up from the floor and they may not be able to do it alone, so it is important to ensure that they have a sturdy and reliable step stool to help them.
But, if your relative does slip or trip, having a medical alert system in place will ensure that they can get help quickly. Medical alert systems for seniors have made great advancements recently, and they have grown in popularity, too.
Another common injury for the elderly is dental issues. Elderly people are more likely to experience dental issues due to the fact that their teeth and gums are more likely to become more sensitive and frailer as they age.
Having regular dental check-ups and making sure that your elderly loved one brushes and flosses their teeth regularly will help them to avoid dental issues.
If you notice that your elderly loved one is experiencing any dental symptoms such as a toothache, loose teeth, or gum disease, it is important that you take them to see their dentist as soon as possible.
Medication errors are also a common injury for the elderly. It is estimated that thousands of elderly people die every year as a result of medication errors. Elderly people are more likely to experience medication errors due to the fact that they are more likely to have multiple medications and they may have difficulty remembering to take or take the wrong medications.
It is a good idea to get your elderly loved one to write down a list of all of their medications, including the dosage and how to take them. You should also encourage them to ask their doctor or a family member to write down their medications for them.
It can also be helpful to have your elderly loved one make a list of any medications that they should avoid, including alcohol and over-the-counter medications.
In addition to having a list of their medications, it’s a good idea to have a family member or friend organize their medications in a way that they can easily access them. Aisles of drawers aren’t usually a good choice – they can get very confusing.
Having a clear, plastic container that they can easily open will help them find what they need.
Another option that can be helpful is to label the bottle or pill container with their name, the date and the time that they took the medication.
Elderly people are more likely to experience a burn injury due to the fact that their skin is more likely to be dry and delicate, and they may not be able to sense pain like they could when they were younger.
It is important to ensure that your elderly loved one is careful when they are around the stove. They should use potholders to protect their hands and should never leave a pan unattended on the stove.
They should also make sure that they don’t leave a pan on the stove while they are asleep or while they are in the shower.
Another good idea is to invest in a deep fat fryer. This can help your loved one to stay healthy and nutritious by cooking their own healthy meals.
If you notice that your loved one is burnt from a fire or a hot pan, it is best to keep them under cool running water for a minimum of 10 minutes and then take them to see their doctor.
You can help to reduce the risk of burns by making sure that you have a smoke detector in the home, and that it is tested at least once a month.
Whether your elderly loved one is living by themselves or in a nursing home, there are many things that you can do to help to prevent them from sustaining an injury.
Depending on the situation, you can purchase a medical alert system, a walker, a cane, a non-slip mat, a sturdy step stool, a non-slip bath mat, a non-slip kitchen mat, and a non-slip mat for the shower, as well as marking their medications with their name, the date, and the time.
In addition to these things, it is important that you visit them regularly and check in with them throughout the day. If you notice that they are doing something that is not normal, you should take them to see their doctor as soon as possible.
If you have any questions on how to prevent your elderly loved one from sustaining an injury, you should ask your doctor or their occupational therapist.