ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Posts Tagged Home Care

There’s No Place Like Home – But Is Yours Senior Safe?

Monday , April 6 , 2020

There’s No Place Like Home – But Is Yours Senior Safe?

Is aging at home a good thing? That depends! Our homes provide a sense of comfort, familiarity, and security.

But, according to one report from Age Safe America, 85% of older adults have done nothing to prepare their homes for aging in place.

Why does that matter? Because falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions – and 56% of those falls occur in the home.

Let that sink in: More than half of all falls that result in a hospital admission happen in the home.

Luckily, steps can be taken to keep you or your older loved one safe from falls and other dangers in the house. Use this list to assess your home and keep it senior-friendly:

  1. Look for fall hazards. Falls are the leading cause of injury in older adults – and most of them occur in the home. One of the most important things you can do to make your home senior-safe is to remove fall hazards. Here are some things to look for:
    • Loose throw rugs. Rugs without non-slip backing are a serious fall risk. Also look for frayed, torn, or turned up edges, which can lead to unintentional trips and tumbles.
    • Clutter and debris. Make sure walkways and common areas are clear of items such as loose clothing and shoes, magazines, books, trash, electrical cords, and any other clutter.
    • Decorative furniture. Sure, that antique end table from Aunt Betty looks pretty . . . but it’s just one more thing to trip over.

  1. Eliminate fire risks. Did you know that people ages 65 to 74 are almost twice as likely to die in a fire, people between the ages of 75 and 84 are almost four times as likely? Therefore, keeping your home senior-safe also includes removing fire hazards. Here’s how:
    • Keep fresh batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (experts recommend changing them twice a year, when the time changes)
    • Replace and frayed or damaged electrical cords and limit the number or cords plugged into one outlet or power strip
    • Don’t leave unattended candles burning in the home (better yet – don’t use candles at all!)
    • If you use a space heater, keep it at least three feet away from furniture, drapes, bedding, and other flammable items

  1. Safeguard the bathroom. According to the National Institute on Aging, almost 80 percent of falls by people 65 or older occur in the bathroom. Yikes! To ensure your (or your loved one’s) safety, do this:
    • Install grab bars in the shower and near the toilet
    • Consider a walk-in bathtub and a handheld shower
    • Place rubber mats in the shower to prevent slipping
    • Use a bathing chair in the shower or bathtub
    • Set the thermostat to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent accidental burns
    • Replace the toilet seat with a raised toilet seat with handlebars to make it easier to sit and stand
    • Install a nightlight in the bathroom to make overnight trips to the loo a bit safer

  1. Consider the kitchen. Many adults spend a large amount of time in the kitchen. Therefore, it makes sense to make this room as safe as possible.
    • Move frequently used items to lower levels
    • If reaching for items is necessary, use a stepstool rather than standing on a chair
    • Install non-slip mats in front of the sink, stove, and any other areas where you frequently stop and stand
    • Replace standard water faucet handles with single-lever models

  1. Update lighting. The average 60-year-old needs at least three times more light than the average 20-year-old. With that in mind, look around the house: Is the lighting adequate? If not, these tips can help:
    • Replace any burnt-out light bulbs
    • Install new light fixtures or lamps in too-dim rooms
    • Install motion-detecting lights in commonly used areas (such as the bedroom and bathroom)
    • Put light switches where they’re easily accessible, for both safety and ease of use

  1. Make stairs safe. Ideally, a senior’s home would be one level – but that’s often not the case. To avoid unnecessary trips and falls, try the following:
    • Tighten and secure all stair railings. If they wiggle back and forth, they’re not going to stop a fall!
    • Use a contrasting paint color or colored tape to differentiate stair tops from risers. Many seniors have vision issues and are unable to separate one step from the next.
    • Keep the stairs (both indoors and out) clear of debris and clutter
    • Consider a stairlift if physical limitations make it difficult to climb up and down

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, it’s a great place to start! If you’re unsure of whether there are risks in your home, consider calling in a care manager – they will assess the house for safety and point out any red flags!

Posted in: Aging

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Things to do at Home When You’re Under Quarantine

Monday , March 23 , 2020

Things to do at Home When You’re Under Quarantine

I never thought I’d start a blog with, “Things to do at home when you’re under quarantine.”

Strange times indeed.

But now that you’re stuck in your house with no end in sight, you may be wondering, “What should I do?”

No one can go to restaurants or museums or the theater. Senior centers have cancelled gatherings and classes. In some communities, even the public parks are closed.

That doesn’t mean you can’t interact with your friends and loved ones, keep your mind engaged, or even have a little fun!

Here are some creative ways to pass the time and remain social:

  1. Phone a friend. In today’s day and age, it seems like no one talks on the phone anymore. They text or email or chat online. But when you’re missing that daily face-to-face interaction with others, nothing beats hearing a loved one’s voice. Think about all those old friends you haven’t heard from in ages – wouldn’t it be nice to take this time to catch up?

  1. Start a workout routine. Exercise has a slew of benefits for older adults, from increased muscular strength to improved mental health. In fact, several studies show that exercise can increase life span. Why not use this time to start a home workout routine? There are plenty of workouts you can do at home – just be sure to check with your physician first to find out what’s safe for you.

  1. Read a book. Almost everyone I know has a “to-read” pile of books at home. Use your time at home to read all those novels you’ve been buying over the years but haven’t had a chance to pick up. Have a difficult time reading for extended periods? Try an audio book instead!

  1. Binge a new television show. It’s difficult to justify spending hours in front of the television when there are more important things to do. But being under quarantine is a special circumstance, and many people are using the time to catch up on television programs and movies. Reach out to friends and loved ones to see what they recommend, then spend a few days binging a new show.

  1. Commune with nature. Even under lockdown, most communities still allow citizens to take a walk around the neighborhood. Walking around outdoors is a great way to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the fresh air. Even better? Experts say that going outside can help improve memory, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure. Just remember to stay at least six feet away from your fellow walkers!

  1. Cook something new. If you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, now is the perfect time to perfect some old favorites or to try something new. YouTube is full of cooking videos geared toward home chefs. Because the classes are online, you can pause, rewind, and go over each step as many times as necessary until you get it right. Need an ingredient that’s not already in your pantry? Use home grocery delivery instead of venturing out to the store on your own. Delivery greatly reduces touch points and, therefore, your risk exposure to illness.

  1. Take a virtual tour of your favorite museum or zoo. Now that COVID19 has the world locked up in their homes, hundreds of museums and zoos are making their exhibits available online – FOR FREE! Check out Google Arts & Culture for some ideas. Local options include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Valley Forge National Historic Park, and the Philadelphia Zoo.

Tell us: What are you doing to keep your mind occupied during this difficult time? Have you come up with any creative ideas not listed here?

Posted in: Health

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Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults

Wednesday , December 4 , 2019

Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults

Winter weather is bad for everything: Your car, your house, your knees, your heating bill. But it’s especially bad for older adults. According to the CDC, as people get older, they’re more likely to die from extreme cold or winter-weather events.

Senior citizens are less likely to sense cold than younger adults, and they don’t shiver as much, so they can’t generate as much heat. Other factors, such as thinning skin, lower muscle density, and side effects from medication can further add to the risk. It’s a recipe for disaster.

If you have elderly family, friends, or neighbors, check in with them this winter and share these safety tips:

Avoiding Frostbite and Hypothermia

Cold temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia for anyone, but the risk is especially high for people over the age of 65.

Hypothermia, a condition where the body temperature drops too low, can occur when you are out in the cold for an extended period. Similarly, frostbite occurs when your body experiences damage to the skin from extreme cold.

The key to avoiding both lies in staying covered up, warm, and out of the elements. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Don’t let indoor temperatures dip below 65 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Dress in layers
  • If you’re going outside, wear warm socks, a heavy coat, hat, gloves, and scarf
  • Cover all exposed skin
  • Stay dry

Your body temperature should never dip below 95 degrees – if it does, seek medical assistance immediately. Also, remember that shivering is not a good indicator of body temperature, as older adults tend to shiver less!

Stay Safe While Shoveling

Shoveling snow is one of the worst parts of winter, and NO ONE likes to do it. But while it might be an annoyance to you, it can pose a true danger to senior citizens. If your older loved one likes to do their own shoveling, make sure they take some precautions.

  • Ask the doctor whether shoveling snow is advisable
  • Remember that your heart works double time in cold weather and take frequent breaks
  • Wear comfortable, non-slip boots
  • As always, dress appropriately (several thin layers is better than one heavy layer)

Prevent Slipping on Ice

During the winter, icy sidewalks, snowy roads, and slippery steps make it easy to trip and fall. Unfortunately, falls are a common occurrence for older adults – especially during the colder months. Just one misstep can lead to a sprained ankle, fractured hip, or something much worse.

To help prevent slips and falls, take the following precautions:

  • Wear shoes with good traction and non-skid soles
  • Replace worn cane tips
  • Consider an ice pick-like attachment that fits onto the end of the cane
  • Make sure steps and walkways are clear and salted before heading outside
  • Take off shoes once you return indoors to avoid making the floor wet

Stay Safe Indoors

During the winter months, many people choose to use a gas or kerosene heater, fireplace, or lantern to help keep warm. Unless they are properly vented and cleaned before use, they can leak carbon monoxide (the “silent killer”) into the home. These portable heat sources can also be fire hazards.

Before you use them:

  • Install carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors, if you don’t already have them
  • Replace batteries on your existing detectors
  • Call a professional to inspect chimneys and flues
  • Crack a window when using a kerosene heater
  • Make sure heaters are at least three feet from anything that might catch fire

If you think you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide, get outside immediately and seek medical attention.

Winter Storms and Power Outages

Depending on where you live in the country, winter weather can be a very serious problem. Here in the northeast, we often experience heavy snow and high winds – which often lead to power outages.

To help your older loved one stay prepared:

  • Stock up with at least seven days of food and water
  • Keep food items that are non-perishable, such as canned goods, peanut butter, crackers, etc.
  • Have a supply of flashlights and fresh batteries on hand in case the power goes out
  • Stockpile warm blankets
  • Stash some salt or cat litter to help your older loved on gain traction on icy surfaces
  • Get absorbent pads for pets who normally get walked outside

Fighting Seasonal Depression

Many people, both young and old, struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For older adults, who may already feel isolated and alone, it can be especially difficult. Cold air and bad weather can make it even more difficult to get out and see others, which can lead to loneliness and depression.

To help them beat the winter blues, arrange for family members, neighbors, and friends to check in often – even if it’s just by phone. You may also consider arranging transportation to and from an adult daycare a couple days a week, or even hiring a home aide to check in on occasion. Just a little bit of conversation can make a huge difference!

Final Thoughts

Winter can be tough – but a little preparation can make it a lot easier! Help your older adult make it safely through the winter by going over our checklist together and making sure they have everything they need.

Did we miss anything? What’s on your winter prep checklist that we didn’t cover?

Posted in: Aging

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