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Identifiying The Risk Factors And Making Home Safer For Seniors

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Identifying The Risk Factors  And Making Homes  Safer for Seniorscritical steps in reducing falls and fall-related injuries to seniors at home.

 

 

Did You Know?

Seniors injuries due to falls remain the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian seniors, and between 20% and 30% of seniors fall each year.

Facts:

  • 1 in 3 seniors will experience a fall each year, and half of those more than one.
  • 40% of seniors’ falls result in hip fractures.
  • 20%  of injury related-deaths among seniors can be traced back to a fall.
  • Seniors are injured AT HOME more than any other location. The bathroom and stairs are particularly dangerous.

 

Falls and associated end results not only  harm the injured individuals but also affect family, friends, care providers and the health care system.

Most falls occur as a result of compounding factors that combine and overwhelm an older person’s ability to maintain or regain his or her balance.

Research has identified numerous conditions that differentiate between older persons who fall and those who do not fall.

 

Each older person may face a unique combination of risk factors based on life circumstances, health status, health behaviours, economic situation, social supports and the environment. Understanding what puts a person at risk of falling is a critical step in reducing falls and fall-related injuries among older Canadians.

 

Factors in the living environment:

Home hazards that have been demonstrated to increase the risk of falling for older people include throw rugs and loose, worn or deep pile carpets; electrical cords in walkways; raised door sills; cluttered floors; poor lighting; slippery floors; poorly designed tubs, toilets and fixtures in the bathroom; no aids or poorly installed aids such as grab bars or hand rails; and pets that get under foot.

 

What Can I Do To Lower My Risk Of Falling At Home?

You can prevent falls by identifying the hazards and making the needed adjustment’s to your home and lifestyle, and by making sure you eat well, stay fit, and use whatever devices will facilitate your daily life while keeping you safe.

 

Safety

  • Fire escape routes in the home must be kept clear and accessible at all times.
  • Smoke alarms on every floor and outside every bedroom are absolutely necessary. Check the batteries in the alarms regularly.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector that sounds an alarm.
  • Seniors who are deaf or hard of hearing should consider purchasing flashing or vibrating smoke alarms.
  • Areas including stairways, porches and outside walkways should always be kept well-lit.

 

Escape Plan

Family members should update planned fire escape routes plans with seniors   current capabilities in mind, and practice with them. Make sure there are two ways out of each room. Keep hallways and stairs uncluttered. Instruct seniors to call 911 from a neighbor’s house, and not to go back inside their home. If they cannot leave on their own, they should still dial 911. Place a telephone beside the bed, as well as slippers, house keys, eyeglasses and a flashlight.

 

Removing Hazards Around The Home

A senior who may experience problems with balance, walking or have poor eyesight needs to make sure to examine their homes to identify potential hazards. Look to remove or repair items that may cause tripping, such as:

 

 

Bathroom

  • Ensure that you have non-slip surfaces in the tub and shower.
  • Install grab bars by the toilet and bath to help you sit and stand. Make sure they are well anchored.
  • Use a raised toilet seat, and a bath seat in the shower, if you need them.
  • Wipe up moisture or spills immediately.
  • Use a long-handled brush or mittens with straps to help with bathing.
  • Install night lights in hallways and bathrooms.

Kitchen

  • Store household items on lower shelves so that you can easily reach them.
  • Store heavy items in lower cupboards
  • If you have to climb for something, use a step stool with handrails
  • Always wipe up any spills immediately to prevent slipping.
  • Consider using non-skid floor products such as a non-skid floor wax.
  • Always ask for assistance with tasks you feel you cannot  do safely.
  • Use a reaching device that you can buy at a medical supply store so you do not need to climb for an item.
  • Replace appliances that are broken or not working properly.
  • Install lighting in areas where sharp tools are used on a regular basis.
  • Do not try to carry too many things at the same time.
  • Have a place near your door where you can place packages and groceries while you close the door and get ready to put items away.

Living Room

  • Keep all areas of the home free from clutter.
  • Get rid of loose wires and cords as well as any other potentially hazardous items that  could potentially cause injury.
  • Dispose of  any loose rugs or scatter mats and replace with one’s that are designed to be non slip.
  • Repairing of  loose carpeting and areas of raised flooring.
  • Check the conditions of stairways and railings and replace with sturdy handrails  accordingly.
  • Consider purchasing a cordless phone or if you have trouble seeing, purchase a phone with larger numbers from a medical supply store.
  • Cover sharp corners on  tables or counter tops in order to avoid serious injuries in the event of a fall.
  • Move of any  furniture and electrical cords out of walking pathways
  • Have good lighting installed throughout the house and install night lights.
  • Always wipe up any spills immediately to prevent slipping.
  • Always ask for assistance with tasks you feel you cannot  do safely.

Stairs

  •  Always make sure that your stairs are well-lit.
  • Check the conditions of stairways and railings and replace with sturdy handrails  accordingly
  • Have solid handrails on both sides of the stairway.
  • Remove any objects or clutter on the stairs!
  • Never rush up or down the  stairs. It’s a major cause for falls.
  • Do not try to carry too many things at the same time.
  • Always ask for assistance with tasks you feel you cannot  do safely.

Exterior

  • Keep front Steps and walkways in good repair and free of snow, ice and leaves.
  • Keep the front entrance well-lit.
  • Put gardening tools such as hoses and rakes away when not using them.
  • Always ask for assistance with tasks you feel you cannot  do safely.

 

Staying fall-free can help you to stay independent  and avoid the need to enter a long-term care facility. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling. Falls usually happen due to the combined effects of factors that can be prevented.

 

On a positive note, many changes are easy to make and inexpensive. Changes can be simple, such as removing rugs. More complicated home modifications may require help of a professional, but there is government and non-profit groups available to help seniors. Some of these services, moreover, may be free of charge or low-cost.

Click on our business card to find out more!

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Home Safety Tips To Keep Your Fury Family Members Safe This Holiday Season

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I just recently made a visit to our local vet to purchase some food for our fury members of the family. As I was waiting to finish my transaction, I noticed a fairly large-sized transparent plastic container on the front counter for all to see. You couldn’t miss this container. I took a closer look and to my surprise, I noticed all kinds of items inside from elastic bands, paperclips, coins, balloons, plastic twist ties and the list goes on and on. After reading the note attached to the container informing pet owners that these were just a few items that were previously surgically removed from Pets who had ingested them. I have to admit I was a little surprised. Just like our own children as infants, we take extra precautions to make sure we Child Proof our home, we have to remember to practice the same safety prevention methods to keep our pets safe as well. Here’s a link to help give you a few tips on keeping your entire family, furry four-legged one’s included, have a safe and happy Holiday season by: Pet MD.

Christmas Tree Tips:

1. Place your Christmas tree in a corner, blocked off from your pet’s wanting eyes. If this doesn’t keep your dog or cat from attempting to jump onto the tree, you can place aluminum foil, a plastic drink bottle filled with nick knacks, or anything else that creates noise on the tree’s bottom limbs to warn you of an impending tree disaster.

2. Tinsel can add a nice sparkling touch to the tree, but make sure you hang it up out of your pet’s reach. Ingesting the tinsel can potentially block their intestines, which is generally only remedied through surgical means.

3. Do not put lights on the tree’s lower branches. Not only can your pet get tangled up in the lights, they are a burning hazard. Additionally, your dog or cat may inadvertently get shocked by biting through the wire.

4. Ornaments need to be kept out of reach, too. In addition to being a choking and intestinal blockage hazard, shards from broken ornaments may injure paws, mouths, or other parts of your pet’s body.

5. For those buying a live Christmas trees this year, keep the area free and clear of pine needles. While they may not seem dangerous, the needles can puncture your pet’s intestines if ingested.

Other Great Holiday Item Tips:

1. Did you know holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs or cats? If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach.

2. Edible tree decorations — whether they be ornaments, or cranberry or popcorn strings — are like time bombs waiting to happen. These goodies are just too enticing and your pet will surely tug at them, knocking down your wonderfully decorated spruce.

3. Burning candles should be placed on high shelves or mantels, out of your pet’s way — there’s no telling where a wagging tail may end up. Homes with fireplaces should use screens to avoid accidental burns.

4. To prevent any accidental electrocutions, any exposed indoor or outdoor wires should be taped to the wall or the sides of the house.

5. When gift wrapping, be sure to keep your pet away. Wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth could cause intestinal blockages. Scissors are another hazard, and they should be kept off floors or low tables.

We at petMD don’t want to ruin all your holiday decorating fun. By all means, go crazy sprucing up your home and wrapping presents. But make sure you do in a way that is safe for your pet(s) this holiday season.

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