Bidet Attachments: The Toilet Tweak That Can Keep an Older Adult Clean

Bidets are commonplace in bathrooms across Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, but this plumbing fixture has never really caught on in the United States. For some reason, Americans prefer to use toilet paper and wet wipes to cleanse themselves instead of water.

However, more and more people—myself included—are beginning to embrace the bidet. In fact, many seniors are finding that bidets offer a safer and more efficient method of freshening up after toileting.

Bidet Attachments: The Toilet Tweak That Can Keep an Older Adult Clean

Bidet Attachments vs. Freestanding Bidets

To clarify, I’m not talking about traditional freestanding bidets. They take up lots of bathroom space, and older users would likely have a great deal of trouble transferring from the toilet to straddling the bidet.

What I’ve found very helpful are toilet bidets. These devices simply attach to the existing toilet in your home and require no remodeling, plumbing work or additional floor space. Essentially, the attachment is a small wand underneath the toilet seat that moves into position and sprays water over the perineal area.

I don’t remember how I first learned about toilet bidets, but when I found a cheap one that could be easily installed on my toilet without major plumbing expense, I decided to try it. The Blue Bidet—now a feature on every toilet in my house—retails for just $37. There are countless models, each with different features on the market. Simpler electric models allow for adjustable water temperature and pressure, while so-called “intelligent” cleansing seats offer features like a nightlight function, a heated air dryer and remote-control access (at a hefty price).

When I installed my cheaper toilet bidet several years ago, I became an instant fan. As I age (and as my symptoms of Parkinson’s disease worsen), I am more and more disgruntled when I have to use a standard toilet and toilet tissue. After returning from a recent short trip, I told my housemates I had missed them almost as much as I had missed my bidet!

Bidets Help with Better Hygiene, Safer Toileting

“As people get older and frailer, it’s harder for them to do good personal hygiene, particularly if they have arthritis,” Dr. Mary Tinetti, Chief of Geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine, explained to New York Times blogger Paula Span via email. Maneuvering around to wipe and wash becomes surprisingly difficult for people as they age. In fact, attempting to do so can even lead to a dangerous fall from the toilet.

For many older adults, a bidet toilet could mean the difference between independence and needing assistance with toileting. Many seniors refuse help with personal care because it comes with a loss of privacy and often dignity. However, this can jeopardize their safety, and poor personal hygiene can lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin breakdown and general irritation. Prompt and thorough cleansing of the genitals, perineum and anal areas after toileting is crucial for maintaining skin integrity, especially for elders living with incontinence. Bidets can provide a higher level of cleanliness, safety and modesty while toileting.

For caregivers who must assist with toileting and personal hygiene, bidets can help immensely with this delicate task. It may take some practice to get the hang of using a bidet seat or attachment, but it can be easier, cheaper, more hygienic and less awkward than assisting with toilet paper or wet wipes. Better yet, adequate cleansing after toileting can help maximize cleanliness between the shower or bath days that caregivers and seniors alike typically dread.

Explore toilet bidets and other senior assistive devices in AgingCare’s Senior Product Guide.

Source: AgingCare by Joh Schappi

Sepsis: The Common Cause of Death You’ve Never Heard Of

Charles Summerour was traveling for business when he acquired an everyday infection that almost killed him.

 After initially ignoring the symptoms of what turned out to be a urinary tract infection (UTI), the 54-year-old journalist began to feel markedly worse as the day wore on. He sought medical attention from a doctor, who promptly sent him to the hospital.

Within hours of being admitted, Summerour’s blood pressure had dropped to dangerous levels, his kidneys were failing and his body was slipping into a little-known but very deadly condition called septic shock.

 What Is Sepsis?

Caused by the body’s exaggerated immune response to an infection, sepsis is the most common cause of death in hospitalized patients in the United States. This condition is also referred to as blood poisoning and septicemia. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of people hospitalized with sepsis has more than doubled over an eight-year period.

The human body is constantly bombarded with potentially infectious viruses and bacteria, and people with healthy immune systems are usually able to fight off these microbes with little effort. But, when an infection isn’t subdued quickly enough, the immune system can kick into a dangerous state of overdrive, causing the body to injure itself in an attempt to get rid of invaders. If left too long, sepsis can escalate into a fatal condition called septic shock, which is marked by extensive tissue damage and organ failure.

Anyone can develop sepsis at any age. It can start off as practically anything, including a case of the flu, pneumonia, a sinus infection, a UTI, or an infected bug bite or cut. What is scary is that these seemingly minor ailments can develop into sepsis in a matter of mere hours. According to Martin Doerfler, MD, senior vice president of clinical strategy and development at Northwell Health’s Center for Learning and Innovation in New York, at least 50 percent of people who go into septic shock do not survive.

The Importance of Spreading Awareness

Even though it kills between 150,000 and 300,000 people in the U.S. every year, only about one-third of Americans have ever heard of sepsis. Spreading awareness is crucial because it can develop and become life-threatening in such a short period of time.

In fact, Summerour had no idea what it was that nearly ended his life until he got home from the hospital. “The doctors called it an infection. They said my immune system had become compromised, but they didn’t really put a name to it,” he recalls.

One of the biggest challenges to diagnosis and treatment is the ambiguous nature of the condition. “Sepsis is a very nondescript problem, and it may not jump into a physician’s mind initially,” Dr. Doerfler admits. Some of the more common initial symptoms of sepsis include fever, elevated heart rate and rapid breathing.

Early diagnosis and treatment are paramount, but the preliminary signs of sepsis are also common in many other medical conditions. Therefore, medical professionals can have a difficult time making a definitive diagnosis before a patient begins experiencing severe symptoms, such as confusion, difficulty breathing and a serious drop in blood pressure.

Seniors Are at Greater Risk of Sepsis

Seniors are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of sepsis due to reduced immune function that occurs with age. Older individuals are also more likely to have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, and liver or kidney disease, that can further affect immune responses. For example, diabetics are more susceptible because their condition causes them to develop sores and wounds that heal slowly and are prone to infection.

Furthermore, seniors make more frequent visits to health care settings, where the risk of developing an infection is increased. “The more you encounter the health care system, the more exposure you have to infectious viruses and bacteria,” Dr. Doerfler points out. Any surgery, no matter how minor, increases a person’s risk for becoming septic, as does the insertion of medical devices like catheters, feeding tubes and IVs.

Even if an elder survives a systematic attack, they are likely to live with lasting consequences. Summerour’s brush with sepsis left him with stage 3 kidney failure. Even though he says his experience caused a lot of changes in his life, he knows that many people do not fare as well. It is this knowledge that convinced him to become a speaker and advocate for the Sepsis Alliance, a nationwide charity dedicated to raising awareness of the disease.

Organ failure and amputation are some of the more common effects of sepsis, but older adults may also suffer serious cognitive issues afterwards. A University of Michigan study shows that 60 percent of seniors who were hospitalized for severe sepsis experienced significant declines in physical and/or mental ability even after they recovered from their underlying infections. Study authors estimate that this finding translates into 20,000 new dementia cases in elderly Americans every year.

How to Protect Loved Ones from Sepsis

There are two key ways to protect your loved ones and yourself from sepsis. The first is using consistent preventative measures to avoid contracting and spreading illnesses and infections. This includes receiving all recommended vaccines, including a flu shot each year, adhering to excellent hand-washing and hygiene practices and leading a healthy lifestyle for a strong immune system.

The second component of protection consists of education and advocacy. If you or a loved one falls ill, it is crucial to know what signs of sepsis to look for and not be afraid to speak up and seek immediate medical help. Every hour that a person with sepsis goes without treatment, their risk of death increases by eight percent.

Dr. Doerfler says the symptoms of sepsis can be ambiguous, but if your loved one has signs of an infection and begins acting abnormally confused or tired, the safest bet is to go to the hospital. He stresses that a change in mental state is a clear indicator that a person needs immediate medical attention, whether it is due to sepsis or another medical issue. A confused senior may be more resistant to going to the hospital, but if sepsis is suspected, their objections should be overruled.

The Sepsis Alliance offers the following acronym to help the public easily remember the telltale symptoms of sepsis:

  • Shivering due to a fever over 101° F or a body temperature below 98.6° F
  • Extreme pain or general discomfort
  • Pale or discolored skin
  • Sleepiness, confusion or changes in consciousness
  • I feel like I might die” and other similar remarks from a patient
  • Shortness of breath

If you notice a combination of any of these symptoms in a loved one, call 911 or seek immediate medical treatment at the nearest emergency room. Be sure to tell the triage nurse and other medical professionals that you suspect sepsis. Nurses and doctors aren’t likely to arrive at this conclusion initially, which is why both Dr. Doerfler and Summerour say it’s a good idea for caregivers to give hospital staff a nudge in that direction.

“You need to advocate and speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves,” says Summerour. “Don’t be afraid to be a little bit pushy.”

Source: AgingCare.com

Skin Care Tips for Seniors

Skin Care Tips for Seniors

Our skin is often the first place we notice signs of aging. Beyond just wrinkles and age spots, our skin is a reflector of our overall health, and yet it is often overlooked.  

Did you know… 

The skin is the largest organ in the body. It has a very important job — protecting our internal organs and systems from bacteria and other foreign matter that can make us sick or otherwise damage us. 

As we age, however, our skin also begins to change. It loses elasticity, becomes thinner and drier, begins to sag, and takes longer to heal. Damage to the skin that occurred in our youth can also start to appear in the form of age spots and dry patches. Medications, diet and exercise can also impact your skin, which is why it is important to check it regularly for changes. 

Among the changes that require attention is the appearance of moles and skin tags, as they can indicate more serious conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, and several forms of cancer. (link to: https://www.cancer.gov/types/skin) 

 Good Skin Care Is a Must 

  • Drink plenty of water! The human body is 70 percent water. Staying hydrated is essential to overall health as well as keeping your skin soft and supple. Dry skin can create itchy patches, redness and, if you scratch them, sores that can take time to heal and allow bacteria to enter the body. 
  • Eat your veggies! A well-rounded diet that includes lots of vegetables is a must. Beyond our overall health, vegetables contain the ingredients essential for healthy skin. 
  • Moisturize! Use a good body lotion daily in order toto keep skin supple and smooth. Moisturizing also helps with itching and reduces self-imposed scratch marks. Other ways to keep your skin moist is to take fewer baths. Use warm, not hot, water. And, if dry air in your room is a problem, try a humidifier to add a little moisture. 
  • Use Sunscreen! Everyone today knows the dangers of too much sun. While we need sunlight to provide the vitamin D that we absorb through our skin, too much sun is responsible for age spots and several types of cancers. 

Be Vigilant 

Skin checks are not often standard in wellness checks at the family doctor. In addition to annual visits to the dermatologist, With months in between visits, however, it is good practice to do a skin check every month or two.  

Even if your loved ones are in an assisted living or other facility, it is a good practice check their skin periodically. The aides that dress or bathe them may not notice or be as adequately trained to spot changes in skin health other than skin breakdown that may indicate a serious health issue.  

Catching problems early is the best prevention.  

The National Institutes of Health has provided  this handy guide for what to look for. 

Check Moles, Birthmarks, or Other Parts of the Skin for the “ABCDE’s” 

A = Asymmetry (one half of the growth looks different from the other half) 

B = Borders that are irregular 

C = Color changes or more than one color 

D = Diameter greater than the size of a pencil eraser 

E = Evolving; this means the growth changes in size, shape, symptoms (itching, tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or shades of color 

See your doctor right away if you have any of these signs to make sure it is not skin cancer. 

Fall Prevention & Mobility: Practical Safety and Organization Strategies for Seniors

Making a home safe for a senior loved one does not have to be a massive or costly project. There are small changes you can make each day that, over time, will dramatically reduce the risk of falls. For many, it may be difficult to know what changes to make, especially if we have lived in the same home for decades. Things like furniture placement, a lack of adequate lighting, and clutter on the floor are just a few of the commonly overlooked risks that can cause you to lose your footing. These factors should not be taken lightly. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the most common cause of fatal injury and the leading source of trauma-related hospital admissions among the elderly. The good news is that most of these falls are preventable.

The start of any good fall prevention strategy begins in the home. It’s where seniors most frequently suffer a fall injury. As you get older it’s important to assess your residence for senior safety. You will want to go room to room, scanning the ceiling to the floor for any potential hazards. However, with dozens of hidden dangers, it’s not easy to identify them all. That’s why we’ve written this guide with 100 simple and easy things that you can do to organize your home and make it safe for seniors.

Fall Prevention & Mobility: Practical Safety and Organization Strategies for Seniors

Organize for Safety

The more organized you are, the safer your home will be. However, organization and storage strategies vary in different parts of the home. What you need in your bathroom is going to be very different than in the kitchen. Here, we go room by room providing simple organizational strategies to help prevent falls.

Fall Prevention & Mobility: Practical Safety and Organization Strategies for Seniors

Organize Your Kitchen

  • Store items on the lower shelves where they are easier to reach.
  • Use open shelves and cabinet without doors, if it’s easy to remove the doors.
  • Replace the cabinet knobs with lever style handles to make them easier to open.
  • Use a lazy-susan cabinet to maximize your storage space.
  • Use plastic or wooden dishware instead of glass. This will prevent your dishware from breaking if it falls on the floor.
  • Use a loud cooking timer that is easy to hear. This will help you keep track of anything you are cooking.
  • Use a water-absorbent kitchen mat near the sink. This will prevent any slips and falls after you use the sink.
  • Throw away old or unused items like herbs, spices, and other dry food items to make more room.
  • Throw out unused kitchen equipment like any large platters or plates, especially if you haven’t used them in a year.
  • Clear out the refrigerator of uneaten items. Foods like jams, pickles, and condiments can sometimes last years. They often take up much-needed space. Consider throwing some out.
  • Clear out the freezer of uneaten foods. It’s easy to leave items in the freezer for a long time, but they take up much-needed space.
  • Store frequently used items in easy-to-access drawers. Any utensils or cooking equipment that you use frequently should be kept at waist height. Also, try to keep them near where they are used. For example, you want to keep the pots and wooden spoons near the stove.
  • Put heavy items in easy-to-reach places. Never keep anything heavy stored up high where it can be difficult to take out or put away.
  • Keep your countertop clean and clear. Try not to use this space to store items that could fall off the counter.
  • Keep cords safely tucked away. If you have appliances like a coffee pot or a toaster, make sure the cords are neatly tucked behind the appliance and not near any heat or water sources.

Organize Your Bedroom

  • Put a lamp near your bed. Ensure that it is easy to activate the light. Touch lamps, clappers, or another remote system is ideal. You want to make it as easy as possible for you to see at night. That way you won’t step on the cat or stub your toe on the way to the bathroom.
  • Clear a path to the door. Don’t place any furniture between you and the door. You want to make sure you have an unobstructed path when you need to exit the room.
  • Sleep near the bathroom. If you have a large bed, sleep on the side closest to the bathroom.
  • Adjust your bed height if it is easy to do so. You want to make sure your legs are parallel to the floor when you sit on it. This will make it easier to get in and out of bed.
  • Replace your doorknob. If your door has a round door knob you may want to replace it with a lever-style knob. This will make it easier and quicker for you to move around your home, especially if you feel rushed to use the bathroom.
  • Organize the closet by tossing out any clothes or shoes you haven’t worn in the last year. This will make it much quicker and easier for you to find what you need. You may also want to look into purchasing a closet system that will help keep you organized.
  • Use nails to hang items in your closet, like a sock aid, shoe horn, or dressing stick.
  • Clean out items under the bed and don’t use that space for storage. It will be difficult for you to pull items in and out.
  • Clear out your nightstand. It’s important that you never have too many items on your nightstand that could fall over. You want enough room to place a glass of water and book.
  • Keep a phone by your bed. It’s a good idea to have a phone near your bed, preferably on your nightstand.
  • Use a wireless charging pad or a secure charging dock if you use a cell phone. You will want to check to see if the wireless charging pad or charging dock is compatible with your cell phone model. But if it is, this will make it easier to keep the phone charged.

Organize Your Bathroom

  • Use a water absorbent bath mat that stays in place. Most mats that are designed for the bathroom have a rubber underside so they won’t slip out from under you.
  • Use a non-slip bathtub mat for inside the tub to prevent you from slipping while you shower. You can also have a professional apply a non-slip coating to your bathtub.
  • Install grab bars and safety rails inside the shower to prevent falls.
  • Use a secure shower caddy to hold your soap and shampoo in place.
  • Throw away your shampoo bottles. A lot of people find it difficult to throw out bottles with a small amount of shampoo or conditioner in them. These bottles can take up precious shower space. Consider throwing them out or be better about using the whole bottle before opening a new one.
  • Use a pill box to organize your medication. Pill boxes will make it easy for you to remember to take your medicine.
  • Throw out any empty pill bottles that may take up space, but be sure to keep the dosage instructions in case you need to reference them. Make sure you properly discard any unused medication. Your pharmacy should be able to assist with that.
  • Keep towels near your shower so that they are easy to grab. Make sure you don’t use the towel rack for support. If you find yourself reaching for it, consider installing a grab bar.
  • Properly store electrical appliances like a curling iron or hair straightener. Keep them in a place where water won’t get on them. It’s safer to not have these in your bathroom at all. Make sure you have bathroom appliances with an automatic shut-off timer.

Keep Your Furniture Organized

  • Anchor heavy furniture like a dresser or a bookshelf to the wall. This will prevent it from falling.
  • Reorganize furniture. Do you often have to walk around a furniture to get through a room? It’s important to have a clear unobstructed path when moving around your home. Push the furniture against the wall or reorganize it so that it is not in the way.
  • Put furniture in storage if you’ve reorganized and you still don’t have plenty of room, consider putting valuable furniture item in storage
  • Donate furniture if organizing and storage isn’t an option, you can always donate your furniture.
  • Throw out furniture. It may be easier and safer to throw furniture away. Especially if you have an item that is old and worn.
  • Don’t store belongings too high on a bookshelf or a tall dresser. Anything relatively heavy should be stored between the height of your waist and chest.

Organize Your Hallways

  • Clear the hallway. The hallway should never be used for storage. Keep clutter and any other belongings off the floor. Any small furniture items like a cabinet should be removed. You want an easy and unobstructed path.
  • Keep stairs clear of debris. Don’t store anything here, whether it’s books, trinkets, or a pet toy. Keep the stairs clear and clean at all times.
  • Remove large hanging items like decorations, large picture frames, or other belongings that could make your path through the hallway more narrow. Also, make sure to not lean against any hanging items for support.

Fall Prevention Strategies Throughout the Home

Crooked floors, bad lighting, and clutter are a disaster waiting to happen. These fall hazards can be found in any room of your home and should be addressed right away. If you follow these simple actions you can greatly improve the safety in your home.

Improve Your Floor Safety

  • Remove area rugs.When rugs are not secured to the floor they can be a major safety hazard. A loose area rug is susceptible to slipping out from underneath you. It can also move and bunch up, causing you to trip when you walk across it. It’s best to discard rugs that you can’t securely fasten to the floor.
  • Secure carpeting. If you have any carpet that is frayed or has rolled up edges, find a way to secure them. You can use nails or double-sided tape. Your carpet should be flat, secure, and undamaged.
  • Secure cords. Appliances and other devices that need to be plugged in have cords that can cause you to trip and fall. Ensure that cords to permanently plugged in devices like a television or a lamp are secured along the edge of the wall. If you have to step over a cord, it’s a safety hazard. You will also want to avoid running a cord beneath a rug.
  • Fix uneven flooring. Old floorboards, broken tiles, and crooked stairs are fall hazards that should be addressed immediately. They may have been a known issue for a while that you have been putting off, but as time goes on the issue will get worse.
  • Use non-slip floor pads. Ensure that you have non-slip floor pads inside your home where you enter in from the outside. These pads can help you remain balanced when you walk into your home on a rainy day. It can be especially useful where your floor is tile or linoleum.

Improve Your Lighting

  • Replace light bulbs that aren’t working. Ensure that there are no empty sockets in the house.
  • Test your light switches. You want to make sure that your switches are working. If lights don’t go on when you flip a switch you may have to reset the circuit breaker or replace the light bulbs.
  • Use bulbs with high lumens. A well-illuminated room will help you see potential fall hazards. High lumens light bulbs emit more light, enabling you to see throughout your home.
  • Use LED or incandescent lighting over fluorescent lighting. LED and incandescent bulbs don’t take time to warm up and illuminate a room like a fluorescent bulb does.
  • Use night-lights throughout the house so you can see when it’s dark. It’s ideal to have them in your bedroom, bathroom and the hallway in between.
  • Use rocker light switches. They are wide and easier to activate that traditional light switches.
  • Use illuminated light switches. You can install illuminated rocker light switches that are not only easy to turn on or off, but they are easier to see.
  • Place a lamp near your bed so that you can illuminate your bedroom before you get out of bed.
  • Use a touch lamp near your bed. These lamps are activated simply by touching them. These are much easier to use than traditional lamp switches.
  • Use remote-controlled lighting. It is much safer for you to activate the light in your home from the safety of your couch or bed.
  • Use timed lighting to turn your lights on in the morning and off at night. You can set it to activate at the same time every day.
  • Open shades and curtains to let in the daytime light. You can use remote controlled curtains to open them up.
  • Use light colored curtains and shades that block less sunlight from coming into your home.
  • Keep flashlights handy in case of a power outage. Store them in various places in your home that are easy to reach.
  • Use wireless motion-sensor lights to light up areas outside of your home, like the driveway and walkway.
  • Ask for help when changing hard to reach light bulbs. Don’t hesitate to get assistance when it comes to improving your lighting.

Remove the Clutter and Downsize

  • Downsize your clothing and shoes at least once a year. If you haven’t worn it in over a year or it no longer fits, you can get rid of the unused items to make more room.
  • Document items you cherish. If you need to get rid of an item that you have difficulty parting with, you can take photos of the items and put them in a scrapbook for you to remember.
  • Put items in storage. There might be some items that have a lot of meaning and value. Maybe you want to put it in safekeeping for your children or grandchildren. Consider putting these items in a safe storage location.
  • Donate unused items. Your garage or storage shed can be full of unused items like sporting equipment, an old bicycle, a kayak and other miscellaneous gear. Clearing out these areas of your home can make it safer to walk around in and easier to find things.
  • Clear counter space. Remove small items that are seldom used from counters and windowsills. Try to minimize the number of ornaments and decorations throughout your home.
  • Clear junk drawers. Many people have drawers or cabinets in the home where we store miscellaneous items like batteries, mail, chargers, etc… It’s a good item to clean out some of these drawers to increase your storage space for items that are more important.
  • Get rid of duplicate items. Do you have more than one of the same item? Like two toasters, two coat racks or several fruit baskets? Consider getting rid of these duplicate items.
  • Hire help to manage your yard: This will enable you to get rid of lawn care tools like a mower and hedge trimmer, which can take up a lot of space and can be difficult for seniors to use. Consider hiring someone who has their own equipment to maintain your yard.
  • Downsize your possessionsDecluttering your home can make your life very manageable. You may know right away which items to get rid of, but what about items you’re not so sure about? Let’s break down some common items you may be struggling with:
    • Books – Are you going to read them again? If not can you donate them?
    • DVDs and movies – Do you have a pile of movies you haven’t watched in ages? Try donating them.
    • Newspapers and magazines – Have you read them already? Are they taking up much-needed space in your home? Consider throwing them away.
    • Furniture – Is there a couch or a nightstand that you never use? If it’s in good condition you might want to sell or donate it.
  • Hire a professional organizer. A professional organizer can coach you through the organizational process. It’s their job to point out the non-essential items in your home that are taking up space.

Risk Factors for Falls 

With age comes risks. As you already know, the older we get, the more likely we are to fall and the more dangerous a fall becomes. Another vital step you can take in your fall prevention strategy is to understand the risk factors for falling.

Be aware of your physical risk factors

There are a host of physical changes associated with aging. Some, like wrinkles and muscle loss, are natural effects of growing older. Other changes are the health problems that arise with age. These can greatly increase your risk of falling, like osteoporosis, arthritis, a prior injury, or a recent surgery. These factors can cause you pain and weakness. Other conditions like a stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or dementia can alter cognitive function and cause you to lose coordination. 

Seniors are also more susceptible to memory loss, which is associated with confusion and problem-solving difficulty. This can affect your ability to judge risky situations, take precautions, and recognize hazards. Circulatory diseases like hypotension, heart disease, and cardiac arrhythmia can create imbalances in blood pressurecausing dizziness. Be aware that some medications can be a risk factor too. Prescribed opioids, sleeping pills, sedatives, antidepressants, or antipsychotics can make you very tired or fatigued. Also be mindful of conditions that affect your perception and spatial awareness like a loss of hearing or sight.­­ It’s best to check with your doctor to address these risks.

What are your behavioral risk factors?

Behavioral risk factors are personal characteristics or habits that can contribute to a fall. These factors can be difficult to identify in oneself. For example, some seniors are hesitant to ask for help with challenging activities like using a ladder, lifting heavy objects, or shoveling snow. Others may be reluctant to use mobility devices like a cane or walker. Sometimes a health condition, medication, or a prior fall can make you too tired or fearful to stay mobile. This leads to inactivity which, over time, will cause you to lose strength and bone density. Seniors do tend to lose height due to bone loss with age. This can make your clothes loose or ill-fitting. Your pants may drag on the floor and added fabric on your sweater might snag on something in your home. Also, take note of your footwear. Shoes that don’t fit properly or ones with slippery soles are not safe options. Drinking too muchalcohol is another factor that can cause you to lose balance. Alcohol could also affect your sleep, memory, and blood pressure, all contributing factors that might make you fall.

Daily Activities That Can Preserve Balance and Mobility

Preserving your balance and mobility are great preventative measures in fall prevention. You’ll want to monitor your health and take steps to preserve it so you can live a long and healthy life. Here are the most important ways to be mindful of your well-being:

Improve your strength & balance. Look for low-impact exercises that are designed to increase your strength, maintain muscle and improve balance. Staying in shape even has the added benefit of lowering blood pressure and improving mental health. Before starting any new exercise program, consult your doctor to ensure that your workout routine is safe. But if you get a green light, here are some ideal workouts for seniors.

Check your medications. There are many drugs that can actually increase your risk of falling. You want to avoid medications that have drastic side effects, negative interactions, and that make you fatigued.

  • Know the side effects: If you find that a new prescription is causing you to have adverse side effects that increase your risk of falling, let your doctor know, there may be alternative medications that are safer.
  • Be wary of interactions: If you are taking multiple medications, you may want to check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that you are taking them properly and that they won’t interact negatively.
  • Some cause fatigue: Some medications that affect brain function can make you feel drowsy or confused. If you can, try to take these medications before you go to bed instead of in the morning

Maintain your vision and hearing. Your sight and hearing are extremely important to ensuring you stay on your feet.

  • Get regular check-ups: Make sure you are seeing your eye doctor regularly.
  • Update your glasses: Update to new prescription glasses if needed and make sure to purchase a few extra pairs in case you lose them.
  • Use hearing aids: If you are having trouble hearing, ask your doctor about hearing aids. These can greatly improve your safety and quality of life.

Take supplements and vitamins. A healthy combination of supplements and vitamins can help keep your body in shape. Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can improve joint health and help you stay flexible. Vitamin D and calcium are recommended to improve bone health and omega-3 fatty acids have numerous heart and cardiovascular benefits.

Get physical or occupational therapy. In many cases, it is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or your insurance provider. Ask your doctor if you qualify. Physical therapy can relieve pain and improve conditions for seniors suffering from chronic health conditions or a recent injury. Occupational therapists work one-on-one with seniors to find out what they need to avoid a fall. They also offer the following:

  • Safe-landing classes are designed to teach seniors how to land safely in case of a fall. These strategies have been proven to reduce injuries.
  • After-a-fall programs are designed to teach seniors how to safely get up after they have fallen down.
  • Vehicle safety: an occupational therapist can teach and recommend ways for seniors to safely get in and out of their specific vehicle.
  • Bed safety: an occupational therapist can teach and recommend ways for seniors to safely get in and out of their bed. They can even prescribe bed rails or suggest modifications to your bed.
  • Home assessment: an occupational therapist can assess your home and determine what you need to do to make it senior-safe. It’s best to find an occupational therapist that specializes in senior care.

Medical mobility equipment can help you stand, walk, and move around your home. If you find yourself leaning on furniture or reaching for the wall when you walk around your home, it may be time to start using a mobility device.

  • cane or walking-stick is the most basic tool to help facilitate walking.
  • walker is great for seniors who need more support than a cane. Walkers can help you stay balanced and stable.
  • Mobility scooters are an option if you need mobile assistance outside the home. These motorized devices are battery powered and can help you get around faster and safer.

Install household helpers. If you are having difficulty getting up from the lying or sitting position, you might want to consider these options:

Enlist help. Let others handle routine tasks or use their expertise to help you.

  • Running errands: Whether it’s walking your dog or getting groceries, don’t hesitate to ask someone for help with errands. This is especially important during inclement weather or during the nighttime when it’s more difficult to see.
  • Get pet training: If you have a pet it’s a good idea to send them to obedience school. Let the trainer know your needs. Make sure your pet is trained to not run underfoot.
  • Use delivery services: Look into pharmacies that can deliver or mail your medication to your home. Many grocery store chain can deliver goods to your doorstep. Check with your local market to see if they offer this service. The less you are getting in and out of your vehicle to run errands the less likely you will fall in the process.

Small changes can make a big difference

Seniors who take fall prevention seriously can prolong their independence and quality of life for many years. Organizing your home is one of those necessary steps. Although it isn’t going to be an overnight fix, you can get started right away. Begin by cleaning clutter one drawer at a time. Try to make purging and downsizing an ongoing activity. You’d be surprised at how much additional room you have and how neat your home can look.

You should also consider incorporating other habits into your life like stretching and exercising for just a few minutes a day. Try to eat a well-balanced diet and make sure you’re taking your medications as prescribed. The principles of fall prevention should be a welcome addition to your existing lifestyle. If you’ve previously fallen, make sure you take the time to fully recover before you take on any major tasks. One of the biggest predictors of a future fall is a past fall. Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Downsizing can be a large project, depending on the size of your home. Find relatives that are happy and willing to help. You’ll find yourself relieved at the progress you’ve made. An organized lifestyle will greatly reduce your risk of falling and can provide you with independence and happiness for years to come.

Source: Your Storage Finder