Category Archives: Safety

Senior Home Safety Checklist

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As we age, most of us would like to stay in our homes for as long as possible. For some seniors, this is not possible; however, for others a few adaptations can greatly increase their independence and safety while in the home. Use this checklist to ensure your loved ones’ homes are safe and they can be as independent in their homes for as long as possible.

Living Area:

  • Are there area rugs?
    • Remove all throw rugs. Area rugs can pose as a tripping hazard.
  • Is there adequate lighting?
    • Add additional lighting or color strips on steps or change in floor heights.
  • Are there electrical cords that could pose as a tripping hazard?
    • Run electrical cords behind furniture and use power strips if needed.
  • Is furniture an appropriate height to enable senior to get up and down without difficulty?
    • Make sure furniture is at an appropriate height with arm rests that can assist in getting up.

Bedroom:

  • Are there area rugs?
    • Remove area rugs and ensure carpeting is level and even.
  • Is there clutter that makes getting around difficult?
    • Remove clutter that can pose a tripping hazard and make it hard to maneuver around the room.
  • Is the bed at an appropriate height?
    • Ensure feet can be flat on the floor and knees are not above the hips.
  • Is there adequate lighting at night?
    • Consider using night lights and having flashlights near the bed.

Bathroom

  • Are there grab bars near the toilet, tub, and shower?
    • Installing grab bars are a great way to help prevent bathroom falls.
  • Is the toilet too low or too high?
    • Ensure your loved one is able to get on and off the toilet without trouble.
  • If there is a tub, are they able to lift their leg to get into the bath?
    • If not, it would be a good idea to have a walk in shower installed.
  • Is the floor of the tub/shower slippery?
    • Use non skid material in the tub/shower to help prevent falls.

Kitchen

  • Are the cabinets at an appropriate height?
    • Make sure items in cabinets are accessible.
  • Is there clutter on the countertops or floor?
    • Keep commonly used items within reach.
  • Is food properly stored?
    • Make sure food is not spoiled and properly stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Is there enough lighting?
    • Consider under counter lighting.

Entryway

  • If there are steps, are handrails installed?
    • Ensure there is at least one hand rail at stairs.
  • Is the walkway level?
    • Repair unlevel walkways or add handrails.
  • Is there adequate lighting at night?
    • Add outdoor lighting or motion activated lights.

Tips for Combating Holiday Depression

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The holidays can be a fun and joyful time for some, but sad and stressful time for others. Loneliness, unrealistic expectations, and financial troubles can cause anyone worries, but especially people that are prone to depression.

Plan Time for Yourself

Between all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, make sure you plan time for yourself. Set aside time for relaxing pastimes you enjoy such as reading a book, yoga, or taking a nap.

Focus on What Matters

The holidays shouldn’t be all about the presents. Focus on the important things during the holiday season such as spending time with friends and family.

Forget Perfection

From decorating to looking for the best gifts, trying to make the holiday season perfect can put much unnecessary stress on yourself. Set realistic goals and reach out to friends and family to share the tasks.

Cut Back on Commitments

Figure out what you really want to do during the holidays, and make sure you prioritize those things. It’s okay to say no to everything else.

Don’t Isolate Yourself.

The holidays can be a sad time for people that don’t have anyone to celebrate with. Reach out to others that may be lonely.  If you don’t have anyone to be with, volunteer to help those in need.

Everything You Should Know About This Year’s Flu

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Last year’s flu season was the worst we have seen in years. Here are some things you need to know about this year’s flu season so you and your loved ones can best prepare.

When is Flu Season?

Flu season is from October to late April/early May.  Peak season is typically December through February.  According to the CDC, February typically presents the highest number of cases that result in the most hospitalizations.

What are Common Flu Symptoms?

Symptoms of the flu are fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and head aches, runny nose, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe lethargy. These symptoms may very per person.

Why Should You Get the Flu Shot?

Although the flu shot does not guarantee you will not get the flu, it greatly reduces the risk of contracting it and it will reduce the symptoms if you do get it. Getting the flu shot also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Who is Most at Risk for Contracting the Flu?

Everyone is at risk for contracting the flu. Young children, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, and those with existing health conditions are most at risk for suffering more complications resulting in hospitalizations if they do get the flu.

How Can You Prevent the Flu?

Getting the flu shot is the number one way to prevent yourself from contracting the flu. It is also very important to wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, wipe down countertops, and stay hydrated. Stay home from school or work if you are feeling sick to help reduce the transmission of the flu.

Medication Management Tips

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As people age, they will typically take more medication to manage existing health conditions and to prevent new ones from emerging. As the medication list continues to grow, remembering which medications to take each day and how often can become a challenging task. According to the American Geriatrics Society, 30% of seniors in the United States have a negative reaction to prescribed drugs, typically due to either forgetting to take their medication or doubling up on the doses of medication. Here are some tips and information to develop a plan that works for you or a loved one:

Caregivers can assist a loved one with medication management in the following ways:

  • Keep an up to date list off all medications
  • Schedule frequent doctor appointments
  • Bring a medication list to the doctor and ask about contraindications and treatment overlap
  • Set a medication routine
  • Check medications for expiration dates
  • Organize medications by time of day or dosage

Assistive technology can be used to assist with individuals that have memory deficits, decreased strength, and impaired cognition.

  • Pill boxes
  • Pill bottle warning label stickers
  • Pill crusher and splitter
  • Timer caps
  • Mobile reminder app
  • CVS, Publix, and Walgreens pharmacy apps

Pharmacies, such as CVS, Walgreens, Publix, and Target, can provide various adaptations to assist with medication management:

  • Specialized labels: letters, contrasting background colors, different fonts, and font sizes
  • Tamper proof packaging to ensure dosage is accidentally not being increased
  • Adapted pill bottles: easy open caps, timer cap, color rings to identify who the medication belongs to
  • Stay consistent with one pharmacy

Be in the Know:

  • Side effects of the medication
  • Dosage
  • Time to take the medication
  • Proper storage
  • If medication should be taken with food.

Heat Rash: What is it & How Do You Treat it?

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What is It:

While newborns are the most susceptible to a heat rash, they can affect everyone from babies to older adults. Heat rashes are especially common during the summer months when it is hot and humid.  A heat rash occurs when sweat ducts are clogged.  The perspiration becomes trapped under the skin, which causes inflammation, redness, and can become itchy.  At times, the rash appears to look like tiny blisters.

How to Treat it:

Typically, a heat rash will go away on its own within a couple of days; however, severe conditions may need medical treatment.  The best way to treat a heat rash is to avoid sweating and going out into the sun.  Try to keep the skin cool but avoid heavy ointments that may block the pores.  Wear breathable fabric that will all the sweat to evaporate.

When to See a Doctor:

See a doctor if the rash does not begin to go away within a couple days, begins to get worse, or shows signs of infection.  These signs of infection can include fever, pain, warmth around the affected area, and pus draining from the blisters.

How to Prevent a Heat Rash:

To help prevent a heat rash, avoid wearing tight fitting clothing. Try to dress in cotton or another soft, lightweight material.  When its very hot, avoid staying in direct sunlight for too long.  Take breaks from the sun and move into the shade or an air conditioned building. Ensure that your sleeping area is kept cool.

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

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Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30.  Hurricanes can bring heavy rain, strong winds, flooding, rip currents, storm surge, and tornadoes. All of these can can cause water, power, and gas outages and damages to homes, offices, and roads.  Older adults may require even more planning during hurricane season to make sure they are prepared for the worst.

Caregivers for seniors should be aware of the following:

  • If your loved one’s residence has a disaster plan in place
  • If their residence is able to withstand hurricane force winds
  • Where they would go in the case of an evacuation and how they would get there
  • If there is enough food and water to last a week

Already having a plan in place before a hurricane strikes can give you and your loved one a piece of mind.  Here are some steps to creating a hurricane preparedness plan:

  • Create a support system of family members, friends, and neighbors.  Write down a list of their phone numbers and inform them of the plan.
  • Make sure there is a way to stay informed if power is lost.  Purchase a battery operated radio so you can receive weather alerts. There are some radios made for people that are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • If your loved one is not going to stay at home during a hurricane, make sure they are aware of the evacuation route and have a means of transportation.
  • Locate an emergency shelter location that is near by.
  • Create a hurricane preparedness kit with extra medications, eye glasses, medical equipment, flashlights, food for service animals, and any important documents that may be needed.
  • Include your pet in your plan.  Not all hurricane shelter allow pets, so ensure that a neighbor or friend can take them in case of evacuation.

How to Make an Emergency Plan

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Many people do not realize how essential it is to set up an emergency plan.  It is important to know which type of disasters may affect your area. There are many things to consider for you and your family members before disaster strikes.

Discuss an emergency plan with your family.

You and your family should discuss what your evacuation plan is and your evacuation route. You may not be with your family when disaster strikes, so you should discuss how you are going to communicate with each other. Phone systems may be down, so you may need to step up an alternate form of communication. You should also collect a copy of the contact information of all family members, doctors, schools, and service providers.

Consider the needs of your loved ones.

You and your family should discuss the dietary needs of each individual, the medical needs, including medication and equipment, disabilities and functional devices required, and pets and service animals. If you have a loved one that undergoes routine treatments by a healthcare facility, find out their emergency plan and identify backup providers.

Deciding to stay or go.

Depending on the nature of the emergency, you will have to decide whether to stay put or evacuate. A plan should be put in place for both possibilities. If you are advised to evacuate, you should do so immediately. You should make arrangements in advance if you are going to evacuate. If it is safer to stay put, ensure that you have supplies that will last you at least a week.

Create an emergency supply kit.

Create an emergency supply kit with basic supplies that includes nonperishable food, water to last at least 3 days, a battery operated or hand crank radio, flash light with extra batteries, first aid kit, and pet food.

Practice your emergency plan with your family.

 

 

Proper Hand Washing

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During this flu season, hand washing is especially important. Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease.  This video teaches children, parents, and caregivers the proper steps to hand washing.

Importance of the Flu Shot

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If you haven’t gotten the flu shot this year, its not too late! Flu season peaks in February so now is the best time to get the vaccine.

The flu shot reduces the risk of contracting influenza.  Influenza is a severely contagious respiratory illness that in extreme cases can be deadly. Symptoms of the flu include sore throat, fever, body aches, headache, and cough.  It can take up to 2 weeks to completely feel better.

This flu season has already proven to be much worse than last season. A flu shot is the best way to prevent the spread influenza to yourself and others. Anyone six months or older should get the flu shot; however, it is especially important for elders, pregnant women, and children.

Consistently getting the flu shot each year has proven to reduce the risk of ending up in the hospital due to the flu.  The flu shot does not guarantee that you will not get the flu, but it does greatly diminish the severity of the flu if it is contracted. Help save your life and the lives of others by getting the flu shot this flu season.

Ways to Prevent a Cold in Cold Weather

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The fall and winter months are usually the time to come down with a cold. Follow these five simple steps to prevent a cold:

  • Wash Your Hands Frequently.  Washing your hands is the best way to prevent a cold. During cold and flu season, it is especially important to encourage friends and family to wash hands to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Wear Layers. During cold weather, your immune system may slow down.  Although cold weather cannot cause a cold, these weather conditions can help germs grow.  This is why it is important to layer clothing.  Hats and scarves are also very beneficial in cold weather.
  • Get Your Rest. Get plenty of sleep. When you aren’t running on enough sleep, your immune system isn’t working as hard. Try getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night during cold and flu season.
  • Keep Your Distance. Stay away from sick family members, friends, and colleagues. Since most people stay indoors during cold months, everyone is breathing the same air. It is best to avoid people that are sniffling, coughing, and sneezing as much as possible.
  • Drink Plenty of Fluids. Drinking lots of fluids can boost the immune system and help fight off colds. Try to drink at least 6 glasses of water per day.