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Posts Tagged senior

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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How to Tell the Difference Between Flu, Allergies, and COVID-19

Monday , March 16 , 2020

How to Tell the Difference Between Flu, Allergies, and COVID-19

Runny nose? Sneezing? Watery eyes?

That might be the start of seasonal allergies, or perhaps a cold . . . but probably not COVID-19.

Medical experts say that if you’re displaying symptoms of the novel coronavirus or you’ve been exposed to someone who has symptoms, you should contact your primary care physician right away – but it can be difficult to tell the difference between flu, allergies, and COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know:

 

Differences Between Allergies, Flu, and Coronavirus

 

Seasonal Allergies

Symptoms:

Sneezing, runny/stuffy nose, itchy/watery eyes, itchy nose, itchy roof of mouth

 

Duration:

Allergy symptoms last if you are exposed to the allergen. Seasonal allergies can last for weeks on end.

 

Time of year:

Seasonal allergies are more common in the spring and autumn.

 

How to tell the difference:

Although rare, other illnesses (including COVID-19) may have similar symptoms to allergies. The difference is often that allergy symptoms happen all at once, whereas a viral infection tends to cause one symptom at a time (headache, then runny nose, then cough, etc.).

 

Flu

Symptoms:

Fever over 100.4 F, dry cough, chills and sweats, congestion, sore throat, muscle aches/weakness, and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

 

Duration:

For most people, the flu is a short-term illness that resolves on its own. Symptoms typically appear one to four days after exposure and last for five to seven days.

 

Time of year:

Influenza is more common between late fall and early spring, but can occur at any time of the year.

 

How to tell the difference:

Headache, aches and pain, sore throat, and fatigue – symptoms that are common with flu – don’t typically present in Coronavirus patients.

 

COVID-19

Symptoms:

Fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and are often worse for the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

 

Duration:

Symptoms usually appear 2 to 14 days after exposure and how long they last depends on the severity of the case. People with more mild symptoms appear to get better in 10 to 14 days, while more serious cases may result in pneumonia and last quite a bit longer.

 

Time of year:

The COVID-19 strain of coronavirus appears to be brand new and researchers are still studying the virus. It is assumed that the illness will be most prevalent between late fall and early spring, much like the common cold or flu.

 

How to tell the difference:

Experts say people should look for the big three: A combination of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Unlike flu or cold, these are often the ONLY three symptoms present with a coronavirus infection.

 

What to do if You Feel Ill

 If you feel ill and suspect that you may have coronavirus, call your primary care physician and ask for guidance.

According to the CDC, you should:

  • Stay at home and avoid public spaces
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Wear a facemask if you are around other people
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough
  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid sharing personal items (toothbrush, utensils, bedding, etc.)
  • Clean high-touch items often (keyboards, phones, remote controls, etc.)
  • Monitor your symptoms

If your illness gets worse (shortness of breath) call a medical professional immediately, and in the event of a medical emergency call 911.

Posted in: Health

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Here’s How Seniors Can Avoid Covid-19 Scams

Monday , March 9 , 2020

Here’s How Seniors Can Avoid Covid-19 Scams

Last week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned individuals to remain vigilant for scams related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The virus – which as of this writing has infected over 100,000 people globally – has created an environment ripe with fear. People the world over are on the verge of near panic, perpetuated daily by the media.

The result?

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, potential scammers are lining up to prey on would-be victims’ fear.

In addition to CISA, the Better Business Bureau and World Health Organization have also issued warnings about criminals who may take advantage of the outbreak in order to profit illegally.

Here’s how you can keep yourself safe:

 

Be Wary of Anyone Claiming to be a Healthcare Official

If you receive an email claiming to be from the CDC, WHO, or any other government office, think twice before responding.

WHO has publicly stated that it will never ask for direct donations via email, calls, texts, or other websites. To prevent phishing, they recommend that users:

  • Verify the sender by checking their email address: Compare the sender’s name to the email address. Look for spelling errors, odd sentence structure, and grammar mistakes. If in doubt, try Googling the address and seeing if it links back to the person or organization it’s purported to come from.
  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails, IMs, or texts: Never click on a link if you find any part of a message (email OR text) suspicious. You can double check the safety of a link by copying and pasting it into a web-based tool like VirusTotal.
  • Avoid opening attachments in unsolicited emails: Opening attachments should be handled with care because it can give hackers total control of your phone or computer. If you receive an attachment from an address you don’t recognize, scan it with an antivirus app before opening.
  • Do NOT reveal personal information via email, IM, or text: If anyone ever asks you for personal information (such as birthdate, home address, or social security number) via email, it is a huge red flag. Legitimate organizations would never try to verify personal information via electronic message.

 

Don’t Believe in “Miracle Cures”

People who are more susceptible to an illness, such as the elderly or those that are immunocompromised, may be tempted to take advantage of “miracle cures.”

Unfortunately, they do not exist – but that doesn’t stop scammers from trying to pedal them.

The Better Business Bureau warns, “Be suspicious of products that claim to immediately cure a wide range of diseases. No one product could be effective against a long, varied list of conditions or diseases.”

Additionally, there is no cure for coronavirus yet, so anyone claiming to have a “cure” or “vaccine” should be ignored.

 

Verify a Charity’s Authenticity BEFORE You Donate

According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, scammers may set up sham charity websites and crowd-funding sites that request donations for virus-relief efforts for victims.

Before you donate to a charity or purchase a product that “benefits” the cause, do your research! The organization or merchandise may not be legitimate, and it could be a scam to take your money.

 

Bottom Line

Don’t believe that would-be scammers are above tugging at your heartstrings or playing on your fears to make a quick buck. They’re not.

Be wary of everything and everyone when it comes to your money and when in doubt, double (or triple) check.

Posted in: Aging

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