Hospitals are usually thought of as a safe place where people can go for help when they’re sick or injured. But for older adults, even a short hospital stay presents risks such as medical errors, medication mistakes, or falls.
Add in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the risks are even greater.
Luckily, there are several things you can do to help keep safe at home – and to help keep you or your older loved ones out of the hospital. Here are our top tips:
Ramp up Physical Activity
Many seniors tend to reduce their physical activity as they age, leading to increased fall risk, poor mobility, decreased immunity, and more. But the benefits of physical activity for older adults are well documented – just a small amount of daily exercise can lower the risk of many common physical and mental health issues. Try adding in a simple daily walk or some stretching and reap the benefits!
Reduce Your Fall Risk
A fall at home can quickly land you in the hospital, but there are several things you can do to help reduce the risk. In addition to physical exercise, try the following:
- Reduce clutter
- Repair or remove tripping hazards
- Install grab bars and handrails
- Avoid wearing loose clothing
- Keep rooms and hallways well lit
- Wear non-slip shoes
- Move around carefully!
Vitamins and minerals play a big part in keeping our bodies strong and fit, and many common health issues can be avoided simply by practicing proper nutrition. Here are four nutrients you should take care to include in your diet, especially as you age:
- Vitamin B12 plays a key role in brain and nervous system functions. It can be found in fish, eggs, poultry, meat, and milk.
- Fiber helps keep you regular and lessens the risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Most fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, and whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas are a great source as well.
- Potassium has many functions in the body, such as regulating water balance and aiding in muscle contraction. You can find it in beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, yogurt, and more.
- Calcium and Vitamin D are important for maintaining bone density as we age. Calcium can be found in dairy products, dark leafy greens, and almonds. Pair it with a Vitamin D supplement for best results!
Keep Track of Medications
People aged 60 – 65 take an average of 15 prescription medications per year. Those over 80 take an average of 18. Not only are all these medications expensive, they can bring on adverse effects when not effectively managed. When you or an older loved on get a new medication, make sure to speak to the pharmacist about any side effects and how it might interact with an existing medication.
Stay in Touch with Friends
Loneliness can have a strong impact on both our mental and physical health. Socializing may seem difficult during the age of Covid-19, but it’s not impossible. Take part in social-distanced gatherings with friends or loved ones by taking a walk in the park or gathering on the lawn for a chat. Or consider utilizing technology for video chats, online book clubs, or even virtual game nights!
Ask People to Wash Their Hands
While we’re on the subject of Covid-19, let’s discuss cleanliness! If you must interact with others, make sure all people who come into your home wash or sanitize their hands as they enter and that they wear a mask. This includes medical professionals and home health aides!
Get Your Flu Shot
Flu season is quickly approaching and that means vaccines will soon be available. The CDC recommends that older adults get the shot in September or October for maximum effectiveness. It is recommended that seniors visit their doctor to first make sure they are healthy enough to receive the shot, and that they ask any regular visitors to their homes to receive the shot as well.
Don’t Ignore Symptoms
Many older adults end up in the hospital from illnesses that could have been easily handled at home with early diagnosis. Don’t ignore symptoms for fear of going to the doctor or because you think you can recover on your own. Many simple complaints, such as sore muscles or light headedness, can be signs of more serious issues.
ComForCare caregivers can help with companionship, disability support, grooming & hygiene, and much more. If you would like help living more comfortably at home, please reach out to speak with us about setting up a home care assessment today.