Senior Safety Guide
Important actions Seniors should do
- Focus on balance. Exercise regularly to maintain strength, and rise slowly after eating, sitting or lying down to help avoid dizziness and loss of balance.
- Medicate safely. Improper use and handling of medication can create serious safety concerns. Check medication expiration dates on all prescription and over-the-counter medications – and follow all directions.
- Store medications safely. Medicine is best kept in its original container, but if you must transfer medication to a new container, clearly label it with the medication name, dose, and expiration date.
- Have easy access to emergency numbers. Post National Poison Control Hotline and other emergency numbers next to all phones. Be sure to add emergency numbers as contacts on your mobile phone as well..
- Wear an medical emergency device.
- Get annual eye exams. Ensure your glasses or contacts prescription is up to date and that you do not have any conditions that limit your vision.
- Handle driving with respect and honesty. If you or your loved one has declining driving abilities, consider alternate forms of transportation. The decision, while difficult, can save lives.
Prevention safety for senior citizens
Prevent unnecessary falls and improve your safety by making yourself aware of environmental hazards. Take action to remove fall risks from your home by:
- Install secure handrails and bright lights with switches at the top and bottom of stairways.
- Repair loose or uneven steps. Check stairs for worn or loose carpeting and install anti-slip treads.
- Always wear shoes with traction and make sure throw rugs have non-skid backing.
- Install grab bars for the toilet, bathtub and/or shower, and use non-slip mats or decals on ceramic surfaces both inside and outside the tub.
- Install nightlights in areas you frequent at night. Also, consider keeping a flashlight near your bed.
- Store frequently-used items on lower shelves in the kitchen to limit the use of stools or step-ladders. If you must use a step stool, use one with a bar to hold onto.
Summer Safety Tips For Seniors
While summer brings us warmth and bloom, prolonged exposure to excessive heat in summer months can be dangerous. This is especially true for older adults. Every summer, more than 600 Americans die of health problems caused by excessive heat and humidity. Older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions are at high risk of developing heat-related illnesses, because of aging-related physical changes in the body, chronic health conditions, and even effects of taking some medications.
Staying Safe When It’s Too Darn Hot
When the temperature climbs above 80°F, older adults need to be proactive and take precautions to avoid ailments due to excessive heat. Keep in mind the following tips when trying to stay cool.
Stay away from direct sun exposure as much as possible. If possible, plan your outdoor activities either early in the morning or when the sun starts to set.
Air conditioning is your friend in summer. Spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned spaces. If you don’t have an air conditioner, go somewhere that is air-conditioned. For example, read a book at the library, walk around in indoor malls, watch that new movie at the theater, or meet your friends at the senior center. (Note: The federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps adults 65 and older who have limited incomes cover the cost of air conditioners and utility bills. To reach your state’s LIHEAP program, call 1-866-674-6327.)
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of cool water, clear juices, and other liquids that don’t contain alcohol or caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine cause you to lose water in your body by making you urinate more.
Dress appropriately. Whenever you can, try wearing loose, light-colored clothes. Avoid dark-colored clothes as they may absorb heat. Top it off with a lightweight, broad-brimmed hat and you are dressing like a pro! These simple changes will help you both stay cool and avoid sunburn.
Did someone say sunburn? Buy a broad spectrum sunscreen lotion or spray with sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply the sunscreen liberally to all exposed skin. Also, bugs are abundant in summer, so spray insect repellent when going outdoors.
Cool down! Take tepid (not too cold or too hot) showers, baths, or sponge baths when you’re feeling warm. Don’t have the time? Then wet washcloths or towels with cool water and put them on your wrists, ankles, armpits, and neck.