There are certain conversations people are reluctant to have with a family member out of concern for their reaction, the appropriateness of them discussing it, or the perceived appropriateness of the topic. When it involves safety, it’s simply never too early to begin discussing issues with seniors, even though they may still seem to be fully capable of tending to their own basic care without an issue.
Things can change quickly.
As a person moves through their 60s and gets into their 70s, their strength will decline. It doesn’t matter how often they work out, if they exercise at all, what kind of foods they eat, or anything else like that; the natural process of aging will cause a decline and slow down in physical abilities.
That means their safety will be compromised.
When safety is compromised, it can have lasting effects. That’s because if an elderly person slips and falls when they weren’t paying attention, because they didn’t take their own safety seriously enough, or something else occurs, it can lead to injuries. The one-year mortality rate for a person over 65 who breaks their hip decreases significantly every year until they reach 80, at which point it becomes one in four (Schnell et al.) That can be devastating for not just the senior, but his or her family.
So, what should we discuss about safety?
We need to address safety issues as soon as we acknowledge them or see something that causes us concern. For example, if we notice an aging parent having difficulty getting up from a couch, we need to talk about that. It’s clear that the strength in their legs has declined to the point where they struggle just to get up from a seated position.
If that has occurred, it means they’re probably having difficulty getting up and down the stairs. They may not say so admittedly, but that’s why we need to be observant of other aspects of life.
We can talk about home improvements, like grab bars.
If somebody’s having trouble getting up from a seated position, they might be having difficulty getting into and out of the shower, especially if they need to step up over a tub lip. Grab bars can provide support, something to grab onto, that can keep them safe. A shower seat can also be a good idea.
Just because we talk about these things doesn’t mean it’s belittling the senior. It just means we care about them to the point where we want to be clear on what the concerns we have really are.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care to improve senior home safety in Huntington, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions. Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961
Jennifer has specialized training in Alzheimer's disease through the Long Island Alzheimer's Association and the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation. She also volunteered her time with the Alzheimer's Disease Assistance Center of Long Island for 3 years by providing congnitive stimulations to an Alzheimer's patient group.
Jennifer educates the community about elder care and speaks to caregiver support groups, senior centers, and at professional organizations. Topics include home safety, effective strategies for family caregiving, elder care planning, and awareness about elder abuse.
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