How to Prevent Injuries at Home as You Get Older
Injuries are common in the ageing population for several different reasons. Yet injury prevention is an apparent way to maintain physical health and a positive ageing experience. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent injury.
Some of the most common injuries among seniors includes falling, and fire is a high danger too. By taking care of a few factors, the risk of such injuries significantly reduces.
Looking After Your Hearing
Having a hearing impairment poses a risk of injuring yourself. If you’re still driving, loss of hearing could mean that you don’t hear important sounds such as emergency vehicle sirens, or a car horn. Other important sounds that you might not hear include smoke alarms, telephones, or somebody knocking at your door.
It’s well-known that for many older people their hearing deteriorates. If you’ve become hard of hearing, it’s a great idea to visit an Audiologist to get your hearing checked. You might require hearing aids and potentially other support to help you get by. Hearing Australia offer a great range of products and services to support you if you’ve become hearing impaired. For example, they have alarm clocks that are extra loud. They light up and vibrate to alert you to sounds such as the telephone ringing. Other services to support you if you’re hearing impaired include ‘Hearing Dogs.’ They can improve lives dramatically and even save lives.
Helping You to See
Many Australians suffer from poor vision. It’s true that once you reach your 40s, vision starts to decline for many of us. It’s not just reading and writing that’s impacted either. It could be that your night vision’s deteriorated, and your sense of visual perception may have changed. And for many ageing Australians visual impairment can be caused by a much greater, underlying health condition such as glaucoma or macular degeneration.
If you’ve noticed a decline in your vision, it’s really important to seek help. Firstly, visit your Optometrist. They’ll let you know if you need new glasses or if your poor vision requires further investigation and/or treatment. If you’ve been diagnosed with a visual impairment, and you’re struggling with activities of daily living, there are support options to keep you safe and allow you to go about your daily activities. There’s government funded aged care support services available. To have an assessment to determine the services that you’re eligible for, contact My Aged Care. They key point is to not leave matters too late. Getting help will substantially reduce your risk of injuring yourself.
Other ways that you can reduce the risk of injuring yourself if you’re vision impaired includes securing rugs and mats on the ground, and any other loose objects on the ground that you could trip over, such as cords. Also consider removing any clutter from your home and keep the hallways clear. If you have dangerous chemicals in your home, try and work out a system so that the products are easily identifiable for you.
There’s also a range of products available now to help with safety in the home, such as power outlets that are specially designed for people who are blind or visually impaired. And Vision Australia offer a range of accessible equipment to help you to get around safely and continue with activities of daily living independently. Some of the products include canes, GPS services and talking compasses.
Are You Becoming Forgetful?
Experiencing changes to your cognition can be frightening, and in some cases you may be putting yourself in danger by not seeking help. Consider visiting your G.P. for advice. Additionally, accessing aged care support services maybe an option. You can start this process by contacting My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to arrange an ACAT assessment.
Personal safety heavily relies on your ability to make clear decisions and relate to your environment. While we all experience normal age related cognitive changes, others are unable to safely perform activities of daily living as a result of such changes. If you’re experiencing changes to your memory and ability to process information, it’s time to visit your G.P. for an assessment. A professional diagnosis will allow you to get the help and assistance that is right for you.
If you’re living with dementia, you don’t have to completely lose your independence. Many people live at home and within the community that suffer from dementia. But seeking help and support is really important. If you have a loved one suffering from dementia, make sure that there’s nothing around the house that they can easily trip over. Also be sure to have an automatic night light that comes on in the dark (preferably towards the toilet). Additionally, be careful with your choice of heating to reduce the risk of fire as much as possible. Furthermore, look at a medication management system so that old bottles of medications aren’t laying around. Your pharmacy can package your medications into a sealed weekly calendar pack. These packs are typically simple to follow, and do reduce the risk of errors. For further home safety ideas for people living with dementia, visit Dementia Australia.
Many seniors take multiple medications. By taking multiple medications the risk of injury from medications increases, and consequently the likelihood of hospital admissions as a result. Older people often suffer from multiple chronic health conditions that require prescription medications. They often have increased use of over the counter medications and complimentary medications too.
When taking several regular medications there’s a risk of forgetting to take some medications, taking too many of one medication, or taking medications that are incompatible with each other. The most obvious way to avoid these issues is to use the same doctor and pharmacy every time, and to be transparent about the medications that you’re taking. If you purchase all of your medications from the same pharmacist, they can review your medications to ensure that your risk of injury from medications is reduced.
Also, medications can have side effects that increase risk of injury. Injuries can be a result of confusion. There are many medications that can increase the risk of confusion, including medications for sleeping, pain management, depression, and asthma to name a few. What many people are unaware of is that over the counter medications can cause confusion too, such as antihistamines. However, if you’re experiencing confusion, it could be as a result of a number of health related issues and it’s important that you consult with your doctor as a matter of priority.
Commonly, when you take multiple medications your risk of injuring yourself from a fall goes up considerably. Many people think that narcotics and sedatives are the only medications that can cause falls, but this is not the case. Other medications increase the risk of falling too, such as blood pressure medications. If you think that your regular prescriptions are making you dizzy, tired, unsteady, confused or unwell in any way, promptly speak with your doctor. Discuss your symptoms and ask for your medications to be reviewed.
Exercise to Keep Safe
Older people often avoid exercise out of fear of being injured. They fear that they’ll fall, pull a muscle, or break a bone. But you don’t need to run marathons or go to an aerobics class to work on your muscle tone, balance and gait.
Older people, including those living with chronic health conditions can benefit from exercise as a way to reduce the risk of injury. Exercising safely is the key.
As you age your muscle mass reduces. By participating in regular exercise you can build muscle mass and consequently muscle power. Seeking professional assistance is advisable. A Physiotherapist or an Exercise Physiologist can give you safe exercises to do in the comfort of your home. But often it’s safer to exercise in a controlled environment such as the gym where exercise physiologists can monitor you.
Many older people also struggle with balance and feel unsteady on their feet. There could be an underlying cause to your unsteadiness, and therefore consulting with a physical therapist becomes more important. You might be unsteady as a result of pain, lack of sensation, low blood pressure, or a number of other conditions. Finding the cause and starting a treatment plan will help you to get steady on your feet and reduce your risk of injuries from falling.
Finally, assess your surroundings for risk of injury, and put some measures into place to reduce or eliminate those risks. If you need help to do this, contact My Aged Care to arrange an ACAT assessment and see if you’re eligible for support in the home.