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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

Simple Steps to Start off the New Year in a Safe way!

Happy New Year to all! 2020 is filled with new possibilities so embrace positive energy and steps to maintain health, happiness, and well being!

Throughout our life we want to maintain our health and minimize risks for injury. This is especially important when one has a chronic condition and of course as we grow older. This tends to become a constant balancing act in terms of decision making and choices. Along the way, people sometimes become frustrated and resistant to change and do not want to adapt their lifestyle or home environment, even when shown to be essential. So, how do you have a home that you still love while providing for safety and minimizing risks? Here are a few simple suggestions:

1. Take note of more than just your basic surroundings, examine your daily habits and routines. How do you or your family members manage your lifestyle and tasks? People often continue to do things the same way over the years not realizing that common tasks present a risk for falls and injury. Think about the tasks that are performed daily and try to ensure that routines are still realistic for you and if not adapted realistically to avoid risk. An Aging Life Care Manager can assist with this!

2. Older adults are at a higher risk for falls for a variety of reasons. Play it safe by focusing on the following:

- Remove area rugs, especially with fringe as they can be a tripping hazard.

- Inspect any flooring for cracks, sharp edges, loose boards, loose or rippling carpet, and arrange to have repaired / replaced.

- Watch for any exposed cords as they also present a tripping hazard. Declutter and organize living spaces as less is more! More congestion means more chances for tripping and injury!

-Wear nonslip footwear and proper fitting clothing! Long pants, socks without treads, and slippers without the backs all present a problem and can be a recipe for injury.

-Widen and ensure lighting in pathways especially to bathrooms to avoid falls, skin tears, and tripping hazards. This is especially important if using a walker or cane.

- Consider adaptive equipment such as a walker, cane, bedside commode, elevated toilet seat, grab bars, or hand rails if balance is a concern.

- Put night lights in hallways and bathrooms. Ensure visibility!

- Put items on lower shelves and within reach for easy access.

- Encourage the use of a walk in shower if possible. Avoid stepping over and into a tub. - - Use non-slip shower treads and secured bathmats to avoid slipping.

- Alter kitchen, bath, and dressing areas to have items at an easy to reach height to avoid falls and the need for step stools. Ease of use is always best!

3. Finally, work with an Aging Life Care specialist (Care Manager / Care Advisor) closely to assess cognition and potential impacts, medications, potential medication side effects and interactions, vision, hearing, mobility, exercise regimes, and overall health as these areas and others can all impact your safety and quality of life. An Aging Life Care Manager can help to assess, prioritize, and even identify risks that have gone unnoticed. A positive plan can then be put in place valuing safety, preferences, and expressed wishes! Most long term care insurance plans will cover care advisor services.

If you take the time to make some simple changes, you will thank yourself later!

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