By Carole Miller, RN ~
Maybe you have said this in a joking manner, but it is no joking matter when it really happens to you, and especially if you are at home alone. Anyone can fall, no matter their age, but as we get older, it becomes more difficult to get back up, and we are more likely to suffer a serious injury such as a broken bone or head injury.
Hers is an example of an actual case. An elderly lady was at home alone, fell and hit her head and suffered a stroke. Did she have the stroke and then fall, or did she fall, hit her head, and then have the stroke? No one knows, and she could not remember. And no one knows how long she was on the floor before she was found by a paid caregiver who had a key to the home. She had a medic alert device, but did not have it on or even within reach. Within two weeks this lady died as a result of this incident. How do I know? She was my mother.
As a former home health nurse, I have related this account numerous times as I taught about home safety, hopefully preventing someone else from experiencing a similar accident. It is related to you senior readers (or senior influencers) for the same reason.
Below are some of the ways to prevent accidents in or around your home:
- Remove all throw rugs, or at least place a nonskid mat under them.
- Remove clutter, and keep open pathways in your home. If you have a pet or grandchildren, toys should be kept in a safe place when not in use.
- If you use the bathtub, have safety bars installed to assist with safe transfers, and use nonslip mats in the tub. But also, have safety bars installed in the shower.
- Never stand on a chair to try to reach something. Instead, use a sturdy, safe stepstool. And never use a tall ladder without someone holding it for you, and never when alone. There are resources available to help us with out of reach tasks, such as handyman helpers for a small fee.
- Wipe up spills on the floor immediately.
- Particularly if you live alone, keep a cell phone securely on your person, or invest in a medic alert device. There are various types of medic alert devices, and most are inexpensive and carry for a short range, even outside of your home.
- Have at least one trusted neighbor who has a key to your home or knows where to get the key.
- Keep your home well lit at night, and use night lights in bathrooms and throughout the house.
- Wear sensible shoes with nonskid soles, and do not walk around the house in your stocking feet.
- If there is ice outside—do not go out! Wait until the walkways and driveways are cleared.
- Store flashlights in readily accessible places in case of a power outage.
- If you have stairs, always use the hand rails and lights.
- If you have devices with cords or tubing (such as oxygen), carefully place the cord or tubing so that you or someone else will not be likely to trip over it.
- Do not run to answer the phone or the door—they will leave a message or call back if it is the phone. Or if someone is at your door, they will wait for you to answer it.
In addition to the above suggestions, here is information on the Vial of Life program, which should be implemented by every senior citizen. It is so easy to do and could save your life. In that same publication, read about ICE (In Case of Emergency) on your cell phone and Preparing for a Medical Emergency.
Carole Miller is a resident of Sun City Carolina Lakes and a regular contributor to Living @ SCCL magazine. We thank Carole for sharing her experience and expertise with our readers.