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Help Keep Your Favorite Senior Safe This Summer and Beyond

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We prepare our homes for newborns, adjust our living for children as they grow, and plan and save for our own retirement. These are things we have come to accept as natural and inevitable. However, we often overlook anticipating the needs of our elderly family members. Advanced age happens slowly and isn’t as noticeable as the onset of other stages of life, and yet, it needs just as much preparation and mindfulness.

We often feel lost knowing how best to serve our elders—people who have looked over us our entire lives. The transition between the role of child to the role of caretaker can be a difficult and jarring event. It is just as much of an adjustment for you as it is for your parent or senior family member. As such, it helps to have a guide on this journey: someone who knows how to anticipate the needs of your loved one.

We think of our options as those limited to nursing homes, senior care centers, and hospice. These hard decisions usually arise after something has “happened” that brings elderly care into sharp focus: stroke, heart attack, a fall, etc. However, you don’t have to wait for a traumatic event to start caring for your elderly loved ones. It’s nice to have a helping hand. And this is where Huntsville’s Home Instead Senior Care Service steps in. The goal of Home Instead is to provide a sense of independence for seniors with an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate staff. If you can help your loved ones anticipate challenges during this time of their life, then there’s less need for an assisted living presence.

The Boomer Project conducted research among 523 seniors asking what their top fears are. Number one on the list is loss of independence. Number nine is being cared for by a stranger. The leading cause for loss of independence among seniors originates from a fall. Every year, 1 in 3 seniors experiences a fall. That’s over 12 million individuals in the United States annually resulting in nearly 13,000 deaths. 80% of falls occur in or near the house with the average cost of a fall weighing in at over $19,000. In the wake of a fall, a senior may find themselves limited and impaired in their mobility requiring the use of full-time assistance. Additionally—even among those who haven’t experienced injury—seniors frequently feel increased apprehension that they will fall again, resulting in self-imposed restrictions on activities. This behavior is detrimental to health and well-being and increases the risk of a future fall.

What’s sad is the majority of these falls could have been prevented. Home Instead has identified the top 5 household hazards contributing to falls. Just remember F.A.L.L.S.:

Floors that are slippery

Animals underfoot

Lighting that is poor

Loose rugs

Stacks of clutter

Home Instead can help you recognize fall risks in your loved one’s home and work to eliminate the hazard. However, falls are just one of the many dangers seniors face. As the weather gets warmer, the risk of seasonal hazards spike.

Each season presents its own hazards for those of advanced age. An ounce of prevention can go a long way to keeping your loved ones safe. As we age, we lose the adaptability to handle changes in the weather and environment. We all get the sense that hypothermia (susceptibility to cold temperatures) is deadly, but we aren’t as aware of the dangers of hyperthermia (susceptibility to heat). Summertime is especially dangerous for the elderly. Heat-related issues are subtle and potentially deadly. However, with the proper attention and observation, these dangers can be avoided. Any of the following factors can cause a body to be more susceptible to heat-related conditions:

  • Taking various prescribed drugs
  • Alcoholic consumption
  • Salt-restricted diets
  • Being over or under recommended weight
  • Dehydration
  • High-blood pressure
  • General illness/feeling weak or “puny”
  • Kidney, heart, and lung disease

The important thing is making sure body temperature is properly regulated. This means wearing loose fitting and light-colored, natural fabrics, staying hydrated, and keeping the surrounding setting cool. Signs to look for in a person who may be experiencing hyperthermia include flushed skin, fainting, a lack of sweating, behavioral changes (confusion, dizziness, imbalance, etc.), and a rapid or increased pulse. If you witness an elderly person displaying signs of hyperthermia proceed with the following:

  • Offer them fluids, but not those containing alcohol or caffeine (DO NOT GIVE THEM ICE COLD FLUIDS!)
  • Bring them out of the heat and into a cool place
  • Apply a cool, wet compress to the neck, wrist, groin, and armpits.

The goal is to bring them slowly back to a regulated temperature. Extreme cases involving heat stroke require immediate medical assistance, and you should call 911 if you suspect an elderly individual is experiencing heat stroke. 

Each stage of the aging process needs a different kind of assistance. Home Instead Senior Care can help put together a service plan that best suits the needs of your loved one. Maybe they need help recovering from a surgery and need a hand with the laundry, cooking, and pill schedule. Or maybe your loved one has an advanced stage of Dementia or Alzheimer’s and needs a more involved approach to their daily care. With over 20 years’ experience caring for elderly individuals, Home Instead Senior Care recognizes the need to help seniors maintain their independence in their own home. There are now over 1,000 Home Instead Senior Care franchises around the world. Visit the online site for the Huntsville location or call (256) 883-3080.

Don’t wait for the fall, start navigating your senior loved one’s journey today with Home Instead Senior Care.


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