Most accidents are likely to happen at home, especially among elderly populations. As you grow old, your eyesight and general physical and healthy condition deteriorate, making you or elderly loved ones susceptible to in-home accidents like falls. According to the CDC, 1 out of 3 seniors falls each year, and every 19 seconds, a senior dies from a household fall.
These statistics should strike fear into the hearts of every adult child and grandparent. Unfortunately, these cases are but a segment of the complete picture, given the fact that many cases may go unreported. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying mandatory quarantines only increase the chances of your aging loved ones falling victim to in-home accidents. With a growing emphasis on social distancing, more time spent at home equates to a greater susceptibility to household injuries/accidents.
Luckily, with a medical alert system from Lively Direct within arm’s reach, emergency services are just a button press away. Medical alert systems offer reassurance to loved ones of senior citizens. With a single press of a button, your elderly loved one will be connected to emergency services in seconds. In no time at all, an urgent response agent will alert the seniors’ family members, contact emergency services, or even provide directions when dementia and Alzheimer’s patients get lost.
How COVID-19 interferes with family caregiving
Full-time caregiving is always a daunting task. With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, the situation isn’t any easier to manage. A recent study by the National Rehabilitation Research & Training Center indicated that 23 percent of family caregivers reported modifying caregiving arrangements to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. Sixty-three percent reported having to increase caregiving efforts due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 has made it challenging to provide family care in the following ways:
Limited access to healthcare
Medical professionals recommend avoiding in-person doctor’s appointments to curb the spread of the virus. Even though telemedicine is a viable alternative, it’s not as comprehensive as an in-person medical appointment and hinders healthcare providers from covering all their bases.
As the healthcare sector reaches a breaking point in light of overflowing ICUs, receiving scheduled medical procedures poses a challenge for elderly patients due to potential delays or cancellations.
From frequent sanitization to heightening emotional support, family caregivers must assume pandemic-exclusive responsibilities. For example, household tasks like laundry can longer be delegated to outsiders, as it’s not safe for laundry services to come in direct contact with a senior citizen’s clothing items. Consequently, these tasks will fall on the shoulders of family caregivers.
Mental and emotional distress
Isolation and quarantine measures take an emotional toll on family caregivers. Being isolated from the world can box you into a mental rut. Unfortunately, full-time and part-time caregivers can no longer recharge their mental health batteries by meeting up with friends for coffee or taking a stroll in public spaces.
Common in-home accidents among the elderly
Since seniors spend most of their time in their homes, there’s a high likelihood of suffering from household-related injuries. Here’s a list of the most common in-home accidents and how to prevent them.
According to recent studies, falls are the leading cause of death for seniors aged 65 and above. According to the CDC, every second, an American aged 65 years and above sustains injuries from an in-home fall. About 36 million seniors fall each year, resulting in about 32,000 annual deaths.
Seniors are susceptible to falls because of age-related weakening of muscles, poor eyesight, and reduced flexibility. Besides, fear of falling leads to reduced movement, causing muscle atrophy, thereby increasing the risk of falling.
Falls aren’t a senior citizen’s inevitable doom. In many cases, these accidents are preventable. If you have a senior under your direct care, employ the below strategies to protect them from in-home falls.
• Encourage them to exercise to strengthen their muscles
• Improve lighting in their home
• Keep floors clutter-free
• Add grab bars in the bathroom
• Encourage them to wear properly-fitting footwear
• Make steps/stairs visible by painting them
Prepare for the worst-case scenario to prevent devastating falls that can lead to brain trauma injuries or even death.
Fires and burns
Annually, at least 1,000 Americans aged 65 or more die from fire-related incidences. According to recent studies, seniors 80 and older are three times more likely to die from fire-related injuries than the rest of the population. The most common fire hazards known to put elderly folks in harm’s way include the following.
• Cooking hazards (in the kitchen) are the leading causes of fire-related injuries
• Faulty electrical wiring
• Unsafe use of heating equipment
• Hazardous use of smoking materials
To minimize the risk of fire-related injuries and deaths among older Americans, take the following safety precautions:
Avoid leaving food in the oven or stove unattended. If you must, take a spoon or potholder with you to act as a reminder. Avoid cooking with loose-fitting clothes. Finally, install a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
Do not leave lit cigarettes or cigars unattended. Seniors should also refrain from smoking in bed.
Avoid using electric heaters around wet areas. Keep combustible substances away from the heaters.
Choking and other food-related injuries
Over 3,000 Americans aged 65 or more die from choking every year. Elderly folks’ choking risk increases if they live alone, wear dentures, or have difficulty swallowing.
Prevent choking by labeling storage containers to prevent getting confused by product labels. Also, when preparing food, make sure that the texture and the size of ingredients are senior-citizen-friendly.
To wrap it up
Today, one American citizen turns 65 every eight seconds. With the number of seniors increasing every day, it’s paramount we protect our elderly loved ones from household accidents that wreak havoc on their physical health.
While observing the above preventive measures is pivotal, the reality is that we can’t be with our seniors 24/7. With this reality in mind, you should consider purchasing medical alert systems that notify you when your loved one is in danger. You’ll enjoy unrivaled peace of mind and rest assured that your elderly parents and grandparents can handle aging in place.