How to Help Your Elderly Parents Avoid Injury

Our parents are getting old. They still want to live on their own, as independent as possible, but we worry. Illness, falls, dementia, all sorts of things can make the place where our parents live less safe than it could be.

While not all elderly slow down or suffer ailments that restrict their lifestyles, many do. With a few simple adjustments at home, their safety and security can be increased and they can be free to enjoy their lives.

The elderly can move slower and their steps can be smaller than younger folks. Look around and see where that might be important to remember. Throw rugs are a danger. Small ups or downs between different rooms can pose a challenge. Coffee tables and other furniture that are knee high are a tripping hazard. Steps outside or sidewalks may have fallen into disrepair.

Work with your elder to remove or replace things that can trip. Repair or cover properly any unevenness between rooms. Broken steps should be fixed, as should sidewalks that your loved one will use.

Because the elderly may have trouble seeing, be sure that bathrooms, stairways, hallways and doorways are well lit. Consider using motion sensing switches so that your loved one does not have to reach for a switch.

The elderly often move from place to place by using furniture as a support. Take a look around and make sure the furniture they might use to lean on is solid and will not move unexpectedly on them. Walking routes should be clear of anything that might pose a barrier or block a direct move from support to support.

Every stair should have a railing, a strong, sturdy rail. Bathrooms can be remodeled to provide rails and a number of manufacturers make “mobility friendly” showers and tubs.

It might be time to go through the cupboards and closets and rearrange what is in them. Frequently needed items should be within easy reach and not require a stool or stepladder to get. In fact, you should consider hiding the stepladder.

Give some thought to your loved one’s ability to drive. Everyone has seen the elderly gentleman pull up to a store, get out, and grab a walker from the back seat to go into the store. You need to have an honest, frequent discussion with your elderly relatives about their realistic ability to drive.

The elderly respond to illness and injuries differently that younger people. The first thing to remember is that your loved one has been in their body for a long time. Take any complaint seriously, because they know the difference between their normal and what is not normal. Little things like dizziness can mean a serious infection or a cardiac complication. A fall can mean that they forgot to take their medicine or that they took too much.

If your parents are growing less mobile, consider one of the programs where they carry a button around their neck or on their wrist that can summon help in an emergency. Be prepared for the occasional false alarm, such as falling asleep on the button or forgetting to reset the machine before going out for the day.

Many elderly will not accept the changes as they age. You can dialog with your loved ones about their needs and their choices. You will have to talk with them, not to them, and you will have to pay attention to some of the little things they may not be able to. Stay involved with your elderly loved ones and that will keep them safer.

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