Sept. 7 is Grandparent’s Day. Edna Parker, at 115 years, is the world’s oldest living person and a great-great-grandparent. She lived in her home until she was 100 years old and ultimately moved into a nursing home after a fall in her son’s backyard.
This Grandparent’s Day is a great opportunity to address some of the unique safety needs of our oldest family members such as:
Falls account for roughly two-thirds of all injuries that require medical treatment for people over 65 and are the leading cause of fatal injuries in this age group.
1. Get rid of rugs. The edges can turn up and snag a person’s toe. Alternatively, you can use double-sided tape to keep the edges down.
2. Make sure all areas of the home are well illuminated (use 60 to 100 watt light bulbs).
3. Use nightlights to help illuminate stairs and other walkways at night.
4. Install handrails along both sides of stairs.
5. Install grab bars in the bath or shower and use non-slip mats or adhesive strips.
6. Wear proper footwear with good sturdy soles. Avoid flip-flops and loose slippers.
7. Keep walkways clear of clutter.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, people aged 65 to 74 are nearly twice as likely to die in a fire as compared to the rest of the U.S. population.
1. Designate a smoking area and keep it clear of easily combustible materials
2. Use deep ashtrays and never smoke in bed
3. Never leave a lit cigarette unattended
4. Invest in appliances that shut off automatically after a set period of time
5. Install smoke detectors on every floor of your house. Test these regularly and replace the battery as needed.
A tragic heat wave hit Europe in 2003 killing 35,000 people, most of whom were older adults. Many of those who died lived in homes with no air conditioning. As the thermostat rises, it is important to cool homes for older adults.
If you don’t have air conditioning, buy fans or make arrangements for older adults to go to a friend’s home or to another place that does have air conditioning.
On the other end of the spectrum, extreme cold can also lead to injury and death. Make sure homes are heated in colder months and older adults are adequately hydrated and dressed for the cold.
Start an exercise program for the body and the mind (try a “noodle booster”).