In-home caregivers are aware of the potential hazards our loved ones face while we’re with them. But one of the important roles of elder care is to anticipate and address situations that may be safety risks when we’re not there.
Falling is the most common cause of accident-related injury among older Americans. We’ve talked before about identifying potential tripping hazards and installing hardware or other equipment to make the home more user-friendly for older people. Not all risk factors are environmental, however.
Many accidents can be attributed to underlying health issues, for example. As we age, our muscles and joints respond differently. Of course, we notice the big changes, but subtle differences in balance or our stride may not be so apparent to us or the older person. If you’re concerned, it may be a good idea to ask your primary care physician to do an evaluation as part of a regular wellness visit.
That visit to the doctor is also a good time to review any medications—whether prescription or over-the-counter—for potential interactions. A relatively small change in blood pressure or a little dizziness or forgetfulness can lead to serious accidents among the elderly.
Keeping those medications organized and on-schedule can help here, too. Missed doses or accidental overdoses are a serious concern, not only because of age, but because of the number of medications some of our loved ones take on different schedules. While there are a variety of pill organizers on the market, studies show that one in five seniors take 50 or more different medications during the course of a year. If this sounds familiar, you might consider an automated dispenser.
And perhaps the most important advice for in-home companion care—indeed for anybody—is to make sure you have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed properly and tested to ensure they’re in good working order.
Sometimes, the deadliest danger is the one you can’t see.