Older Americans Month 2014 Focuses on Senior Safety

Older adults have made countless contributions and sacrifices to ensure a better life for future generations.  Since 1963, communities across the country have shown their gratitude by celebrating Older Americans Month each May. This celebration not only recognizes older Americans, but also demonstrates our nation’s commitment to helping them stay healthy and active.

This year, the event focuses on injury prevention with the theme “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.” The theme focuses on injury prevention and safety to encourage older adults to protect themselves and remain active and independent for as long as possible.

Unintentional injuries to this population result in at least 6 million medically treated injuries and more than 30,000 deaths every year. With an emphasis on safety during Older Americans Month, the U.S. Administration for Community Living encourages older adults to learn about the variety of ways they can avoid the leading causes of injury. Here are some safety tips to help seniors live longer, safer and better!

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

  • Discuss physical activities that are appropriate for you. Regular exercise helps to improve endurance, strength, balance, and coordination.
  • Learn more about safely managing your medications, activities and lifestyle.
  • Have your vision checked regularly. Your sight plays a large part in preventing injuries at home, on the road, and in the community.

Manage Medications

  • Be aware of how your medications interact with other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, certain foods, alcohol, and other medical conditions.
  • Learn how medications may make you unsteady on your feet or impact your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
  • Create a medication schedule or use a scheduler box to make sure you take no less or more than prescribed.
  • Ask your pharmacist for help. Large-print labels, medication-tracking devices, and easy-open containers may be available.

Prevent Falls

  • Install handrails and grab bars wherever they are helpful, especially around stairs and in bathrooms.
  • Ensure ample lighting inside and outside of your home, particularly around frequently used walkways. Add one or more nightlights between your bedroom and bathroom.
  • Choose shoes with non-slip soles that provide support without bulk that could cause you to trip.
  • Use a walking aid, if needed to improve balance and stability.

Prevent Fires and Burns

  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees. You can also install anti-scald devices on sinks, tubs, and showers.
  • Test smoke detectors regularly. Be sure you have a smoke alarm in or very near your cooking area. Alarms should also be installed in all bedrooms.
  • When cooking, wear snug-fitting or short-sleeve clothing and high-quality oven mitts that cover the lower part of your arms.
  • Do not smoke in your home, especially if oxygen therapy is used.

Drive Wisely

  • Plan your route before you drive and use the safest routes that are well-lit, familiar, and offer easy parking. Daytime driving in good weather conditions is best.
  • Wear your seatbelt, even during short trips.
  • Eliminate distractions inside the vehicle and stay focused on the road.
  • Know when it might be time to limit or stop driving, and learn how to get around town without driving.

Live a longer, healthier life by taking control of your safety today!  Learn more about Older Americans Month at http://acl.gov/olderamericansmonth.

Source:  U.S. Administration for Community Living