According to the CDC (cdc.gov) falling down is the leading cause of death and injury among older adults. Falls are often due to hazards easy to fix, yet often overlooked, and each year, thousands of older adults fall at home, causing serious injuries and death.
Some signs an older adult may be at risk of falling are a change in walking gait, difficulty getting in and out of chairs or bed, not able to see clearly, shuffling instead of lifting feet when walking, impairment diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, or Arthritis, and fear of falling. Watch for signs and take steps to help with preventative measure around the home and encourage practicing walking safely outside the home as well.
The fear of falling can create stress and lack of confidence. Take preventative measures around the home to help reduce the risk of falling. A suggested checklist below will help assess an in-home fall risk.
Q: When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture?
A: Move the furniture so your path is clear.
Q: Do you have throw rugs on the floor?
A: Remove the rugs or use double-sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
Q: Are there papers, books, towels, shoes, magazines, boxes, blankets, or other objects on the floor?
A: Pick up things that are on the floor. Always keep objects off the floor.
Q: Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords (like lamp, telephone, or extension cords)?
A: Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall so you are less likely to trip over them.
Q: Has the stairway light bulb burned out?
A: Have a friend or family member change the light bulb.
Q: Is the tub or shower floor slippery?
A: Puta non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower.
Q: Is the light near the bed hard to reach?
A: Place a lamp close to the bed where it’s easy to reach.
Q: Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark?
A: Put in a night-light so you can see where you’re walking.
Other things one can do to help prevent falls:
- Exercise regularly – this makes you stronger and improves your balance and coordination.
- Have your vision checked at least once a year by an eye doctor. Poor vision increases the risk of falling.
- Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
- Put a phone near the floor in case you fall and can’t get up.
- Consider wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you fall and can’t get up.
Partners In Care is locally-owned and operated family business providing non-medical home-care in nine Northern California counties.
Marilyn, someone I've known for more than 40 years, contacted me one day in June 2016 to talk about her sister and brother-in-law.
She wanted information about care for her sister who had Parkinson's, and wanted to know all about Partners In Care.
Her brother-in-law was exhausted caring for his very ill wife and Marilyn was very concerned about his well being.
Marilyn liked all the qualities of Partners In Care - the dedication, training, staff, support, etc.
She said she heard everything she wanted to know and was going to share with her brother-in-law to encourage him to get help - he had been so stoic, being the only one to care for his wife.
Last Thursday evening, August 24, Marilyn phoned me to express her deep appreciation for the care her sister has received, for her brother-in-law's relief, and particularly the caregiver, Corina.
The caregiver 'became family,' Marilyn told me.
We were both in tears at this point of the conversation, because her sister has passed away.
Marilyn wanted to express her love for her sister by reaching out with appreciation for the quality of care provided, leaving a lasting and memorable impression for Joan's family.
“Somehow, we have to get older people back close to growing children if we are to restore a sense of community, acquire knowledge of the past, and provide a sense of the future.”
- Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist
Inter-generational friendships and social programs (bringing seniors and kids together for fun and meaningful relationships) provide opportunities for people of all ages to interact and become engaged in mutually beneficial activities and outcomes. In 1963, the Foster Grandparent Program was created, providing opportunities for low-income persons age 60 and over to offer one-on-one supportive services to school children with special or exceptional needs, and reducing poverty and isolation among the elders. Since that time, inter-generational programs have evolved to include people of multiple ages and a variety of issues concerning our society.
Examples of inter-generational programs include the young serving the old, visiting in homes or senior living facilities, providing services in the home, teaching computer skills, etc.; the old serving the young in mentoring programs, tutoring, teen parenting guidance, etc.; older adults and the young serving together in community service, environmental issues, etc.
According to Erik Erikson, Psychologist, the final stage of emotional development is experienced around the age of 60 and older. Cultivating relationships with a younger generation can help older adults feel a sense of fulfillment, and provide advantages for both young and old alike. These relationships can help fill a void for children without grandparents, give each a sense of purpose, help alleviate fears children may have about older adults and aging, aide in cognitive stimulation and broaden social circles.
Some activities to initiate, build, and strengthen intergenerational relationships include:
• Reading to each other
• Teaching new technologies
• Planning and preparing a meal
• Sharing hobbies
• Learning new skills, such as knitting, fishing, sewing, woodcrafts
• Telling jokes
Inter-generational programs benefit the community by bringing together diverse groups and networks and can help clarify misconceptions and negative stereotypes. Such relationships are important for society and help ensure children and teens receive the attention and mentoring they often lack. Research has shown as people age, their brains actually improve in many ways, including complex problem-solving and emotional skills.
Age-related increases in wisdom, life experiences and emotional stability are well-documented. Studies have shown that active and engaged older adults remain in better health, and live longer with better physical and mental health than their non-volunteering counterparts. Children had more improved reading scores in schools where older adults volunteered compared to peers at other schools.
Partners In Care is locally-owned and operated family business providing non-medical home-care in nine Northern California counties.
Take the worry out of being discharged!
Our "Welcome Home' service will assist you with non-medical transportation home. We then work hard to make sure you are comfortable, well taken care of, and safe.
Come out and see us as we proudly sponsor "National Night Out" Tuesday, August 1st from 5:00-7:30 at Pioneer Park in Nevada City.
One of the most popular activities for seniors, over age 50, is travel. Whether you are an experienced globe-trotter or traveling for the first time, it is good to research and plan as much as possible in advance.
It is always recommended travelers see a doctor for a pre-travel visit, ideally 4-6 weeks before traveling when possible. Consider any physical limitations when making travel plans as well as recovering from jet lag and motion sickness. Your physician may prescribe medications for traveler’s diarrhea or altitude illness.
Check out all sources of senior travel package discounts for all facets of your journey transportation, accommodations, or restaurants.
Make several photocopy sets of essential documents – passport, driver’s license, Medicare and insurance cards, travel tickets and itinerary, boarding pass if secured in advance, and physician prescriptions. Keep one complete set in carry-on baggage, and one set to family at home. Request copies of prescriptions and/or statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical treatment center to keep with you.
For domestic flights, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states: “Effective January 22, 2018, air travelers with identification that does not meet the REAL ID Act requirements and whose state does not have an extension must present an alternative form of identification in order to board a domestic flight. Examples of acceptable forms of identification include U.S. military or dependent ID, DHS trusted traveler cards, airline or airport-issued ID, passport book or passport card, or federally recognized tribal- issued photo ID.” For more information on this topic and documents required for international travel, visit the website for U.S. Department of State: https://travel.state.gov.
Keep your essential documents and money with you in a money belt or passage wallet on your body, tucked inside your clothing, instead of a purse or wallet in back pocket. This simple security step will help prevent losing or stealing.
Air travelers over the age of 75 qualify for expedited security clearance and will not be required to remove shoes or jackets. Airports sometimes have designated security lanes for special needs or disabled travelers, with no waiting. Ask about these services when planning.
Medications & Health Aids
The best suggestion is to keep all medications in carry-on bags in case of lost luggage. There may be an exemption from the typical carry-on allowances for liquids. Carry all medications in one bag and pack them in a separate container such as a Ziploc. They will be screened separately and will not be confiscated. Keep medications in their original, labeled containers and pack a few extra days of supply in case there are travel delays.
When traveling with a portable oxygen machine, check in advance to see if the airline requires any special medical forms signed by a medical doctor. Coordinate wheelchair assistance in advance of travel. Coordinate in advance with airline if assistance is needed to the jetway or all the way to airplane seat.
Traveling and seeing the world is safer than ever before and with a little planning,
seniors can safely visit almost any destination. Bon voyage!
The hot summer sun puts seniors at risk from heat more than any other time of the year. As we age, our bodies are less able to regulate environmental temperature changes for a variety of reasons. Heat illnesses are serious at any age but are of special concern to older adults because they are much more affected by summer heat.
Anyone can become dehydrated, but with older adults body fluid reserves become smaller, the ability to conserve water is reduced, and the thirst sense becomes less acute. Older adults may not feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated. These problems may be worsened by chronic illnesses such as dementia, diabetes and the use of certain medications. There may be mobility problems, making it difficult for an older adult to obtain water for themselves.
Studies have shown the aging population is at risk of inadequate fluid intake. Daily water needs depend on various factors like fluid losses and dietary composition. Estimating a daily fluid intake requirement may be complex. Health conditions such as congestive heart failure and kidney disease, or medication use (diuretics or laxatives), will greatly influence fluid needs.
Maintaining an adequate fluid intake is essential for proper function of the whole body. For the older adult, frequent dehydration can be fatal if un-diagnosed. Some of the health consequences associated with dehydration are constipation, acute confusion, impaired cognition, and falling.
Prevention of dehydration for older adults is primarily based on ensuring adequate fluid intake. Raising awareness with older adults, their families, and caregivers of the importance of dehydration risk factors is essential. Some strategies for encouraging fluids intake would be to offer fluids regularly during the day, provide liquids readily available all day, encourage consumption of fluids with medication, and provide a variety of beverages. Water is the first recommended fluid and should be the bulk of the daily intake. Milk, fruit juices and non-salty soups can be useful in providing variety to help ensure sufficient fluid intakes. Coffee and tea can have a diuretic effect and should be consumed in reasonable amounts. Alcoholic beverages are not recommended.
Typically, adults lose between 4 and 6 liters of water per day between the ages of 20 and 80 years of age. In the absence of severe symptoms, and when the situation allows, oral fluid repletion is the preferred therapy for dehydration in older adults. Dehydration prevention can be ensured by simple and effective measures, such as encouraging adequate fluid intake. Diagnosed dehydration requires a serious treatment. It can be largely avoided and reversed, if detected early.
The good news is preliminary research of incontinent nursing home residents indicated that the simple measure of verbal prompting to drink was found to increase fluid intake by 78%. Avoiding the consequences of dehydration is possible!
A completely new and easy way to help your loved one stay safely at home alone.
More people get into trouble due to an inability to get up than from falling. Being “stuck” after falling can be a big problem for seniors living alone. The risk of death doubles when lying on the floor for a long period of time after a fall. Hospitalization may be necessary due to dehydration or injury from not being able to get up or summon help. It’s a common worry for family members living away from parents.
Wearing an alert device can be very useful, but we know of instances where someone has taken it off and become incapacitated and unable to reach it. One story comes to mind where the person wasn’t wearing the pendant and was unable to get out of the bathtub for two days before being found by a neighbor, purely by chance. Another is from a person who fell and was unable to reach the phone, laying for hours before being discovered. These occurrences are all too common. An alert device can be extremely helpful, but useless if not worn.
Partners In Care has a reliable solution that will bring peace of mind, as well as safety, with the SafeInHome technology system that has affordable options, is non-intrusive, and fills the need to know what’s going on at home. There are no cameras or violation of privacy. The installation is simple. There are no long-term contracts and pricing options tailored for specific needs.
“We know the difficulties associated with living alone and concerns especially for seniors,” says Shaun Clinkinbeard, President of Partners In Care providing non-medical in-home care. “The addition of digital technology provides family members with direct access to what’s going on at home with alerts tailored to what they want to know.”
SafeinHome is an affordable monitoring system, with pricing starting as low as $79.95 per month. There are additional discounts for those receiving in-home care with Partners In Care, serving El Dorado, Nevada, Yuba, Sutter, Sacramento, Placer and Butte Counties.
Contact Partners In Care for more information about SafeinHome and in-home care at 530-268-7423 or visit our website, www.picseniorcare.com.
Freedom to travel by automobile is important to maintain independence and age should never be the sole indicator in evaluating one’s driving ability. As a mature driver, you bring a wealth of experience to the driver’s seat but, as we age, some skills necessary for safe driving – reflexes, hearing, vision, etc., begin to deteriorate. It is normal, as we age, for our driving abilities to change. Reducing risk factors and having awareness of safe driving practices will make it possible for many to continue driving safely long into senior years.
Aging does not automatically equal loss of driving ability and there are many things you can do to continue driving safely:
• Check with your doctor about medications or other physical limitations that may affect your driving ability.
• Have your hearing and eyes checked every year. Stay current with corrective lenses and wear hearing aids when driving.
• Choose a vehicle with an automatic transmission and keep your car in good working condition. Keep windows and headlights clean.
• Drive defensively and avoid distractions such as use of cell phone, driving map or GPS.
• Know your limitations and situations that make you uncomfortable. Drive during daylight hours, stay off freeways, and avoid driving in stormy weather. Plan your route before you leave.
• Listen to relatives and friends if they express a concern about your driving and take an honest look at your driving ability.
Get a professional evaluation of your driving ability from an occupational therapist or certified driver rehabilitation specialist. A neutral third party perspective can help you in your self-assessment of driving skills.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has a self-rating tool with facts and suggestions on their website:
http://seniordriving.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Driver652.pdf. Ask someone who knows you well to share in the exercise so you can have feedback and stay honest with yourself.
Adjusting to life without a car may be challenging at first and it takes a lot of courage to stop driving and put the safety of yourself and others first. But, there are many benefits of not driving you may not have considered.
• Save money – cost of care ownership including insurance, registration, maintenance and fuel. Saving on these can pay for alternative transportation if necessary, and often using a taxi or shuttle for short trips can cost far less than ownership.
• Improved health – not driving may mean walking or cycling more, which can help boost energy, sleep better and improve balance and physical confidence. Exercise is good for your mind, mood, and memory.
• Change of pace – not driving for many, results in slowing down. A slower pace can be beneficial for reducing stress.
Transportation alternatives will help adjust to not driving and keep you from becoming housebound. You may want to consider moving to an area with more options such as public transportation, community shuttles/senior transit, taxis or private drivers.
Find transportation options in your community by contacting key resources:
www.eldercare.gov (800-67-1116) and
Studies of people 70 years and older show having social interactions with friends may provide a greater effect than interactions with family members. While children and grandchildren help keep Grandma and Grandpa engaged, it is essential that seniors develop relationships outside the family.
Older people more socially engaged also develop fewer memory problems. Reduced involvement with family and friends has been linked to having worsened memory. Good mental capacity was maintained best in those people who were most socially active. Chatting with neighbors and friends today may help keep the brain sharp for years to come.
Loneliness, especially in the elderly, has been shown to impact an individual’s health and wellness in addition to feeling valued or loved. Health risks associated with social isolation have been compared in magnitude to the dangers of smoking cigarettes and obesity. The strength of one’s social support network can contribute to the increase in the quality and length of life. The risk of dying decreased when people had a strong network of friends.
By the time people reach their 80’s, the majority live on their own, mostly because of widowhood. Older people’s social networks often get smaller for other reasons as well – children may have moved away and aging siblings and friends may have died. Living alone, health problems and disability, and major life events such as loss of a spouse have all been identified as risk factors for social isolation and loneliness.
Social isolation and loneliness are not the same health issue and may require different solutions. Social isolation arises in situations where a person does not have enough people to interact with and loneliness is the subjective experience of distress over not having enough social relationships or not enough contact with people. Although the two concepts can be related, a person can be socially isolated and not feel lonely, and someone with a seemingly large social network can still experience loneliness.
Awareness of programs available for older adults, such as active living programs, senior centers, or transportation options to be able to attend programs, may help those who are socially isolated. People who express loneliness, though they appear to have access to social opportunities, may be better served by referral to mental health services.
Relationships with pets can help eliminate the sense of being “alone” or lonely and have proven to have healing effects on individuals of all ages and all stages of illness. Even a relationship with plants can help to feel less alone and caring for them provides a sense of purposeful work and fulfillment.
For homebound seniors, phone calls and regular visits can be a critical part of connecting with others. Being a family caregiver is an enormous responsibility and the caregiver may experience loneliness and isolation, too. Seeking support and even temporary respite care can help ward off caregiver loneliness.
Senior isolation is neither inevitable nor irreversible. Getting the facts can help us prevent loneliness.
Drug Safety Precautions
(The columns of Joy Loverde and www.careguide.com)
ASK THE PHARMACIST…
• Any questions regarding drugs
• If generic drugs are available
• For written information about the medicine
• To keep a file on elder’s drug usage and medical history
• For easy-open containers as long as there are no children present
• About senior citizen discounts
• For large print labels
• About 24-hour telephone and emergency services
• About prescription home-delivery services
• About year-end tax and insurance statements
DISCUSS AND IMPLEMENT THE FOLLOWING...
• If forgetfulness is a problem for your elder, create a chart. List the days of the week, name of each medication, times to take each drug, then cross out the drug each time it is taken.
• If your relative insists on using a plastic pillbox, keep the original prescription container handy. Keep a sample of each drug in its original container. When traveling, pack the original drug container as well.
• Make sure the prescription labels are clear and in large print. Keep a magnifying glass near prescription containers. If your elder wears glasses, remind him/her to wear them when reading labels.
• Use pharmacist provided colored containers for different drugs.
• When filling prescriptions, check the name of the drug on the label before leaving the pharmacy.
• Don’t mix alcohol and drugs.
• Consult the doctor before taking over-the-counter drugs.
• Ask party hosts if the food or beverages they are serving contain alcohol.
• Store drugs as directed. Refrigerate the drug only if told t do so.
• Know the expected side effects of the drugs.
• Never share drugs. Never
• Keep pills distanced from the bed. This reduces the possibility of taking the wrong drug or wrong combination when sleepy. Do not take drugs in the dark.
• Read labels in properly lighted rooms.
• Discard medicines that have expired or have no labels.
• Ask the doctor or pharmacist if the drug is habit forming.
• Ask the doctor to order a home visit from a nurse to teach the elder how to manage medications.
• Discuss the fact that making rapid movements like standing up too quickly can cause unnecessary falls.
• Ask your family member to keep a list of all drugs in sue, prescription and over-the-counter, in his/her wallet or purse at all times.
• Keep a list of drugs in use on the refrigerator or by the telephone
• Do business with one reliable pharmacy.
• Keep each doctor informed of all prescriptions.
• Share written medication information with every family member.
• Check with the doctor before asking the pharmacist to substitute the prescription.
• Check with the doctor before asking the pharmacist to substitute the prescription with generic drugs.
• Make use of identification bracelets for allergies and chronic conditions.
• Before purchasing over-the-counter drugs, examine the packages for signs of tampering. If the seal is broken or it looks like the box has been opened, get another package and give the other to the store manager.