Seniorsmatter.com recently conducted a survey of readers to find their areas of greatest concern. While there were a number of different areas of interest, one in particular stood out. Readers overwhelmingly cited the home safety of their elderly loved ones as their topmost worry. Family members fret most about the safety of their elderly loved ones when they are aging in place in their own homes.
Home Safety Is Important
Accidents can be far more dangerous to the elderly than they are to young people. To help keep an elderly loved one safe, family members and caregivers should consider going over a checklist such as the one created by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. A link to this checklist is provided at the end of this article.
Using a checklist helps family members ensure that all the important matters of home safety have been addressed. It also serves as a reminder so that something crucial is not accidentally overlooked. An example would be making sure that batteries in a smoke or carbon monoxide detector are replaced on a regular basis.
Another matter to keep in mind in regard to home safety is the layout of the person’s home. Living quarters that are set up with elderly people in mind should feature easily accessible drawers and stable furniture. Special care should be taken to removing tripping hazards such as loose cords, crumpled rugs, and so on.
By ensuring that the home in question is free of tripping hazards and equipped with home safety features such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and traction strips in the tub and/or shower, family members can do a lot to decrease the chances that an elderly loved one will be harmed due to an accident in the home.
Social Issues and Feelings of Isolation
An unfortunate result of aging at home is that an elderly person may begin to feel isolated and alone. This can lead to social anxiety, depression, and other issues. These, in turn, can have dramatic effects on an elderly person’s health.
Dealing with social issues and isolation was the second-greatest factor of concern cited by readers. Here are a number of suggestions on that point.
First, family members should make sure that transportation is available to their elderly family members. As people age, they may eventually reach the point where they can no longer drive safely. As a result, they may elect to give up driving altogether. At the same time, 25% of our readers found transportation an issue of concern, and for good reason.
In modern society, a person who cannot drive can quickly begin to feel isolated and alone. Access to reliable transportation is the antidote. Transportation may take the form of regular rides from family members, the use of public transportation, networks of ride sharers, or all of the above. If an elderly person can run errands, do shopping, or go to social and community events, he or she will be happier and healthier.
Of course, as an elderly person ages, using public transportation may become out of the question. As time goes by, family members and caregivers may need to provide more personalized transportation options.
In addition, elderly people can keep in touch with friends and family members through the Internet to avoid isolation. By using programs such as Skype or Facetime, an elderly person can have regular face-to-face conversations and feel connected.
Addressing Dementia and Alzheimer’s
The third most cited concern of readers was learning more about dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s. With the aging of the large Baby Boomer generation, these issues will continue to increase in frequency. Indeed, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 1 out of every 3 seniors dies with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Given the enormity of this topic, seniorsmatter.com anticipates discussing Alzheimer’s and dementia more frequently as part of the site’s ongoing exploration of the challenges faced by caregivers.
Exploring Proper Nutrition
Only slightly trailing concerns about dementia and Alzheimer’s was the issue of nutrition. Caregivers want to ensure that their elderly family members are receiving the proper nutriments. As a person ages, he or she may begin to lose interest in eating properly. This can present unique challenges to caregivers.
Other concerns expressed by readers included helping elderly people get enough exercise, financial concerns, and various other matters. Seniorsmatter.com will continue to address these and other caregiver concerns.
Seniorsmatter.com would like to thank our readers and those who participated in the survey to help us better serve those facing the challenges of caregiving. Seniorsmatter.com invites readers to feel free to contact us with particular questions or concerns.
Alzheimer’s Association. (2016). 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Available at http://www.alz.org/facts/. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
Summary Survey Results (2016). Seniorsmatter.com’s survey: “What is Your Biggest Concern about Your Elderly Parents?”
U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Safety for Older Consumers—Home Safety Checklist. Available at cpsc.gov/PageFiles/122038/701.pdf. Retrieved September 23, 2016.