For the millions of family caregivers across the country, maintaining a safe environment for their aging loved ones is one of the most important challenges they face. The following steps can help ensure your loved ones stay safe and healthy at home.
Seniors often take multiple medications. With so many medications, managing them can easily become overwhelming. Every year, 18 million emergency room visits are attributable to medication accidents.
There are several steps that can help prevent medication mishaps. Keep an up-to-date medication list on hand and make multiple copies of it. For specific medications, include the name of the drug, dosage, start and stop dates, and a description of what the pill looks like, and understand potential side effects and possible interactions with other medications. Try to use the same pharmacy for pickups and write the condition treated on each medicine bottle. If possible, come up with an easy way for managing medications on a daily basis.
Annually, 12 million older Americans fall. Falls are the leading cause of injuries for people over 65. They cause broken bones, head injuries and, in some cases, even death. Over half of all falls take place at home — which is why it’s crucial to inspect the home for fall risks.
Fortunately, falls can be prevented. There are many things you as a caregiver can do, and some don’t even require any home modifications. Do a walk-through home safety assessment and remove hazards such as clutter and throw rugs. You should replace old lightbulbs, fix poor lighting, add a second handrail on stairs and use non-slip paint on outdoor steps. In the bathroom, make sure to install grab bars, a shower chair and a handheld showerhead.
If your loved one wears glasses, make sure their prescription is current and that their vision is checked regularly. Help them exercise to maintain their muscle strength and improve their balance. Some medications may increase the risk of falling as well, so make sure they are properly managed.
Peace of mind
Safety for your loved ones is the first priority. We all want to keep our loved ones safe so they can enjoy the best quality of life they can. Planning ahead on these two important issues — medication safety and safety in the home — will give you a little bit of peace of mind during your day-to-day caregiving responsibilities.