Senior Safety Tips: The Assistive Devices Many Seniors Aren’t Utilizing

Happy senior safety leaning on cane

Think about the various tools you utilize each day – your phone, hairbrush, toothbrush – simple items, but ones you can’t imagine living without. For many seniors, there are basic adaptive devices available that could mean the difference between living at home and facing a move to assisted living. However nearly 50% of older adults living at home are not utilizing these handy tools – despite the fact that prices are minimal.

A newly released National Health and Aging Trends Study estimated the ability of seniors to accomplish tasks such as rising unassisted from a sitting position and walking, and found that a large number of the participants could benefit from assistive devices.

Not only that, but the danger of senior falls from the lack of simple assistive devices is increased, resulting in hospitalizations, serious injury, and disability that could easily have been prevented. In fact, once these devices were made available to older adults, based on research, disability rates for older adults dropped by 50 percent, along with a decrease in pain levels and an increase in the ability to independently perform activities of daily living.

Dr. Kenneth Lam, author of the study, explained, “It’s a technical problem which, unlike so much of aging, is actually solvable. In the hospital, I can order an M.R.I. and charge the system thousands of dollars. But down the road, that won’t help patients not fall. What happens when they get home?”

Johns Hopkins in Baltimore has recently launched a program looking to change this by introducing inexpensive assistive tools to seniors. Through several in-home visits with an occupational therapist, nurse, and repair specialist, needs are identified and resolved. That may mean installing grab bars in the bathroom, removing fall hazards, or adding a shower chair or raised toilet seat. Small changes such as these can make a substantial difference in an older adult’s capacity to safely and independently manage activities of daily living.

At Responsive Home Care, we are pleased to offer in-home evaluations to recommend modifications to the home environment that enhance safety and help seniors remain independent and in control. We can also help improve senior’s comfort, safety, and independence through services such as:

  • Preparing nutritious meals and ensuring adequate hydration for seniors
  • Providing assistance as necessary with personal care needs for safe showering/bathing, getting dressed, etc.
  • Maintaining a clean and organized home
  • And more

Contact us at 954-486-6440 to schedule your assessment today!

Medications That Increase Fall Risk for Seniors: Startling New Stats

woman speaking with a female medical professional via video chat

Medications that increase fall risk for seniors should be closely monitored by a physician in order to keep older adults safe from side effects that put them at risk.

We’ve long known that there are certain medications that increase the fall risk for seniors. Twenty years ago, just a little over half of older adults were impacted by that risk; yet today, that number has risen dramatically – to a full 94% of seniors who are now in danger of falling as a result of medication side effects. Not only that, but deaths from such falls are occurring at more than double the previous rate.

Researchers who discovered this increasing concern also found that between 1999 and 2017, senior prescriptions for medications that increase fall risk were filled over 7.8 billion times. This includes a spike from 12 million antidepressants in 1999 to more than 52 million in 2017.

The study doesn’t specifically pinpoint these medications as the cause for fatality in the falls experienced, but indicates the need for further exploration into the dosages being prescribed. Joshua Niznik of the division of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine notes, “We’re starting to understand now that the dose of the medication that someone is on is really what we should be looking at probably with the greatest level of scrutiny, and that really has a strong correlation with falls.”

It’s crucial for seniors and their doctors to work together to strike the ideal balance between managing the conditions that require these medications and preventing further complications from a fall.

Amy Shaver, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, and lead author of the study, explains, “These drugs are all necessary medications, but there needs to be a conversation about risks and advantages, that pro-con conversation about: For this particular patient at this particular point in time, what can we do?”

Prescriptions that are specifically linked to fall risk include those for depression, blood pressure management, seizures, pain, and psychosis, among others. Women are most often prescribed these types of medications, and those 85 and older are experiencing the highest spike in fall-related deaths.

One step that seniors can take is to have the home assessed for fall risk and to implement any recommended safety measures. Responsive Home Care is pleased to offer an assessment, scheduled at your convenience. We can also help reduce fall risk through:

  • Ensuring medications are taken exactly as prescribed
  • Assisting with safe walking and transfers
  • Encouraging seniors to engage in doctor-approved exercise programs to strengthen balance, flexibility, and strength
  • And more

Email or give our trusted care team a call at (954) 486-6440 to learn more about our senior care in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and the surrounding communities, and to schedule your assessment today!

Fall Safety Tips for Seniors to Regain Confidence And Strength After a Fall

senior woman receiving assistance from caregiverWhile circus clowns and comedians may stir audiences to laughter over such stunts as slipping on a banana peel, there is nothing funny about falling when it comes to aging parents, who are at an elevated risk for serious injuries, which could lead to an extended rehabilitation process. Not only that, but there’s a lesser known complication that typically arises from an older adult’s fall: a fear of falling again which can be significant enough to impact quality of life and health.

As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” It’s natural – and sensible – for an older adult who has fallen to want to take precautions to prevent a subsequent fall. Yet for most, the fear of falling prevents essential physical exercise, bringing about weakness and reduced balance confidence, each of which can actually boost the likelihood of falling again.

Instead, it’s essential for senior loved ones to:

  • Strengthen muscles. Ask the doctor and/or physical therapist for appropriate exercises to engage in after a fall. Building strength is an essential component to preventing future falls.
  • Assess the home. Walk through the older adult’s home to check for any cords, clutter, throw rugs, etc. which can cause a tripping hazard. Make sure there is sufficient lighting and install grab bars in the bathroom and anywhere else supplementary support might be helpful.
  • Discuss it. Seniors may feel embarrassed for having fallen; however, it’s important to talk about what happened in order to decide what precautionary measures can be taken to make sure that it doesn’t occur again.

It’s also helpful for older adults to create goals, with the aid of a medical professional, and to start to work towards attaining them. The goals must be reasonable and fairly easily attainable in order to instill confidence, for example being able to walk up and down the stairs independently while holding the handrail over the next two weeks, or walking the total length of the backyard within 4 weeks.

Once an objective has been set, define the steps necessary to attain that goal. What types of training can help strengthen the muscles essential to go up and down the stairs, or to take an extended walk? And if the goal is not achieved, consider what prevented the accomplishment, and what additional steps could be taken to set and reach a brand new goal.

Most importantly, be sure to provide reassurance and support to cheer a senior on towards regaining his or her self-assurance and confidence and to lessen any fear.

For more tips on preventing falls, or to arrange for a no cost in-home safety assessment, call our experts in home care in Pembroke Pines and the surrounding areas at Responsive Home Care any time at 954-486-6440.