Tag Archives: elderly

Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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This is such important information for family caregivers. To put it bluntly, a fall for a frail loved one can signal the beginning of the end. Both my mother and father experienced falls as their health situations declined. Learn more and tips on preventing falls from Kay Bransford.

via Falls are Game Changers for Older Adults

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August 9, 2019 · 8:50 pm

Top slip and fall risks for seniors

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Laurens Meurs/Freeimages

This past week, I stumbled on a stair and fell in my own home, where I’ve been living for over 10 years. I wasn’t rushing, nothing has changed recently as regards to the stairs or my health, and I am an active 40-something woman. Fortunately, I injured nothing but my pride.

To follow up on last week’s post, Bruce Millar of Millar & Mixon law firm put together this list of top slip and fall risks. A lot of it is common sense, but check your home (and the homes of your aging loved ones) to see if any modifications need to be made. –Joy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year millions of older people (those who are 65 and older) fall. Sight and balance problems, along with weakened limbs can make walking a challenge for some elderly people. Fortunately, after identifying the risks, simple measures can be implemented to ensure that their health is protected.

The slip and falls risks that the elderly face are many, according to AtlantaAdvocate.com. However, some are caused by the negligence of the government or business owners, who are expected to keep premises in a reasonably safe condition. If you or a loved one suffers a fall due to negligence, don’t be afraid to speak out, obtain legal advice and if appropriate, seek compensation. Seniors are more likely to be seriously hurt or even killed due to falling accidents. Let us examine the most common risk factors that may cause these slips and falls.

Slip and Fall Risks

  1. Inadequate Lighting

Inadequate lighting may occur in areas such as alleys footpaths or house corridors. Elderly people are likely to slip and fall in areas with inadequate lighting as they have problems with their sight. Lighting in public zones should be adequate to ensure that the they can see well whether they are in public or private areas. Report non-functioning streetlights to the appropriate city officials and make sure your own yard and home have adequate lighting.

  1. Cluttered Walkways

Some sidewalks, especially in big cities, may be cluttered with rubbish and other debris and and this poses a fall risk. Creating a narrow, tricky path for someone who may have sight and mobility problems may result in a fall with serious injuries.

  1. Slippery Floors

Wet floors are one of the leading causes of falls and slips among the elderly. Areas such as malls and supermarkets often have slick floors. Recently mopped and waxed floors are a major cause of falls and slips. Older adults are often the most affected because their balance may be impaired, thus increasing their risk of a fall in these situations.

  1. Appliance Cords in Walking Paths

These hazards mainly occur in homes or some stores where device cords pass through walking paths. A poorly-placed cord can trip up the elderly which can result in a potentially fatal fall. In a business, such cases should be reported because the appliance cords are not meant to be in areas where people are walking in the first place.

  1. Cracks On Sidewalks or Driveways

Cracks and uneven sidewalks and driveways are a major reason for falls, not just for the elderly but other individuals as well. Major cracks should be repaired promptly, or reported to authorities if on city property. A trip on cement can lead to serious injuries, especially for those who have osteoporosis or other conditions which weaken bone strength.

  1. Slick Bathroom Floors

Many fall accidents that occur in a home have reportedly happened in the bathroom. These injuries are often caused by wet floors, a slippery tub and lack of grab bars to hold onto and avoid falls. When renovating a bathroom with aging-in-place in mind, especially in nursing homes for the elderly or in-home care, measures should be taken to reduce the risk of bathroom falls. Safety measures can include non-slip rugs, non-slip bathtub treads and handrails.

  1. Changes in Surface Types or Levels

Changes in surface types or levels that are not well defined may cause falls and pose a significant risk to the elderly. Contractors should try to identify changes in such instances to ensure the safety of the elderly. Areas with such changes should have grab bars or a railing. That way, if an older person trips, they can support themselves and avoid falling.

Injuries Due To Falls

The following are injuries that can occur following a fall:

  • Brain injury
  • Broken bones
  • Hip fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Pain
  • Psychological trauma
  • Medical expenses
  • In some cases death

 

Author Bio:

Bruce Millar of Millar & Mixon law firm serves the victims of personal injury accidents all over the state of Georgia. Millar and the other attorneys at Millar & Mixon have over 20 years of experience of helping clients get their life back on track after a serious accident has occurred.

Photo credit: Laurens Meurs/Freeimages

 

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Don’t underestimate the power of a fall

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Admittedly, I used to laugh at those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” LifeAlert commercials. What can I say, I was young and the commercials were done in an over-the-top manner. But as my parents aged, I discovered that falling is no laughing matter.

My father’s love of walking made him a dangerous dementia patient. When he was at the memory care center, we got several calls over the course of a year that my father had fallen. The care center’s policy required them to inform us each time Dad took a spill, even if he was not injured or was not taken to the hospital. Sometimes he was taken to the hospital, and I can only imagine how an ambulance ride and an ER visit must seem to someone with dementia.

Even though Dad took multiple spills, he never ended up with more than bruises. My mother, on the other hand, took one bad fall and broke her shoulder. She lived with pain from the injury for the rest of her life. When she first became ill with cancer, her mental status changed and the home health staff suggested I get a monitoring system for her. I signed up for the one they offered, which was Philips Lifeline. Overall, I was satisfied with the service. There was a billing issue upon returning the equipment after her death, but the service while she was alive was good.

ReviewsBee rates the Top 10 Medical Alert Systems, placing Philips Lifeline at #5. I mainly agree with the review. My mother was skeptical of technology, but because Philips is such a well-known and trusted brand, she was more comfortable using the product. The fall-sensor technology was sometimes oversensitive, thinking my mother had fallen when she just turned over in bed, but it was still reassuring to know that a live person would check on my mom immediately via intercom if a fall was detected.

All systems have their pros and cons, and I only had experience with the one brand, so make sure to read reviews from different sources and think about the features that are most important to your family. Keep in mind that some monitoring systems require landlines and make sure to read your contract so that you don’t get stuck with fees when returning the equipment when it is no longer needed.

If you have tips on preventing falls, I would love to hear about them.

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A medicated Mother’s Day

So far, the hospice-provided “comfort kit” has not brought my mother as much comfort as she had hoped.

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My mom had a false impression about morphine, after experiencing the temporary euphoria of the IV morphine given sometimes during emergency medical situations. I think Mom was hanging on to the idea that morphine was going to be this miracle drug that was going to magically remove her pain and let her get things done and bring back her appetite.

Well, we all know what morphine does, especially to an elderly, frail person like my mother. It knocked her on her butt, once we adjusted her dosage to effectively relieve the pain. Then she ended up getting a bit too much (even though she was still self-reporting pain as a 7) and ended up getting sick twice.

That was Saturday night. She did manage to sleep through the night, a rarity.

Today the hospice nurse visited and recommended we try Haldol. I had read some things about it (often used for mental health conditions like schizophrenia) but also read that it is a proven anti-nausea medication.

So I tried Mom on the lowest dose and that really knocked her for a loop! I am a naturally cautious person around medications, but it is still surprising to see the effects they can have on an individual. Mom was hardly able to walk and she was very groggy, but still in pain so she couldn’t really sleep.

Figuring out the correct dosage and cocktail of drugs is really trial and error, and when done in the home environment, is quite stressful.

I just put her to bed, giving her a small dose of morphine along with an Ativan, the latter which she has taken for years and tolerates well. This worked for her overnight, so I’m hoping we have found the right combination to relieve her pain and help her sleep without making her sick.

I hope for another quiet overnight period. Ironically, I still slept poorly last night, because I kept waking up to make sure Mom was okay.

If you have any medication tips or experiences to share, please do so below in the comments section.

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Dying with dignity shouldn’t be so difficult

The last week my mom’s health has taken a steep decline. Barring some miraculous turnaround, it is fair to say she is actively dying.

Hard to believe this photo was taken just a little over a month ago.

Hard to believe this photo was taken just a little over a month ago.

While I have prepared myself for this moment, and have seen it coming for awhile, what I didn’t necessarily expect was how difficult it would be to just allow someone to die in peace and comfort.

I literally had to run all over town just to get prescription paid medicine for my mom. I know new regulations on controlled substances took effect this year, but frankly, if an addict wants narcotic pills they are going to get them no matter what. In the meantime, those who are legitimately in pain have to suffer.

The doctor made me go in person to pick up the prescription. They said they required a family member to pick it up, even the nurses at the home care agency my mom uses were forbidden from picking it up. Guess it’s good I just arrived in town! There is no way my mom could have made it to the doctor’s office.

There are plenty of pain-ridden people who live alone, what do these poor souls do?

And while I don’t necessarily want my mother to waste away in a hospital setting, I am surprised that the doctors keep sending her home from the ER. Uncontrollable pain, emaciated, can barely ambulate … I mean, geez, what does it take to be admitted to the hospital these days? The doctor told her she didn’t qualify for an inpatient stay under the new strict guidelines.

So we are starting hospice, but her overworked doctor has to sign off on it. I’m not too hopeful that it will be done quickly. While her doctor was off last week, my mom had no pain medicine and being cut off cold turkey really sent her health reeling into a death spiral.

So much red tape and regulations are getting in the way of treating people who are suffering with some form of dignity.

Family caregivers shouldn’t be left feeling helpless and devastated as they watch their loved one suffer needlessly.

I hope we can work together to advocate for better end-of-life treatment.

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Rethinking treatment for seniors with depression

Mom is depressed. I know this. She knows this. Admitted it to the doctor when he asked.

But she remains very resistant to the idea of talk therapy.

This, from the woman who can, and does, talk to everyone! She’s never met a stranger, and she’s collected the life stories from hundreds of strangers while riding the bus or waiting in line at the grocery store. Mom is not shy at all about discussing depressing personal subjects, like Dad’s Alzheimer’s or her own battle with cancer.

The woman who admits she is lonely and just wants someone to talk to, still refuses to go talk to a therapist once or twice a week. There is a special program in her town designed to deal with geriatric mental health issues.

Mom says it’s because they won’t come to the house. The doctor wants to encourage my mom to stay active and get out of the house. The personal care service can and does drive her to any appointments.

Perhaps it is more of a generational issue. Mom comes from a generation that quietly bore their burdens, versus jumping on the therapist’s couch. Psychoanalysis was more of an upper-class pastime than something the average person engaged in. Now, therapy is recommended for just about anyone, even children.

But maybe we need to rethink senior therapy to encourage more people like my mom to participate. Perhaps an initial home visit/assessment, then subsequent office visits. When you physically feel lousy, you are going to feel even more depressed but may not feel like getting dressed and leaving the house.

Once my mom connects with someone, it lifts her spirits and she is willing to be more flexible with her routine. For example, sometimes the personal care attendant can only come at 10am, which is early for my mom. Guess what? Mom has adjusted just fine.

This is probably a short-term issue, as I have a feeling baby boomers will have no problem with therapy, but it does make me feel for all of those lonely, depressed seniors isolated in their homes right now. I wish we could reach out to them effectively. (Mom refuses to go to the Senior Center as well!)

Are there programs in your community that are designed to help seniors battle depression or loneliness?

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A simple act of kindness is often greatly appreciated

Recently, I visited my mom. It was the first time I would be meeting her personal caregiver. I’ll call her Debbie (not her real name.) Mom had raved about how wonderful Debbie was and how much she liked her.

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We’ve all heard horror stories about the other kind of caregivers, those who steal from clients or abuse them. I was relieved that Mom was happy with her caregiver. I think the service has lifted her spirits and helped take the burden off of her when it comes to housekeeping and grocery shopping. In short, personal attendants can help my mom live independently longer.

Debbie made me comfortable immediately. She is warm and kind and doesn’t let Mom get down on herself. But she also isn’t fake in her positive thinking, instead she is encouraging. She is an ideal match with my mom, who is set in her ways and finds changes in routine stressful. Debbie knows how to keep my mom on the right track.

I thought the least I could do was get Debbie a thank you card, to let her know I appreciated her taking good care of my mom. Apparently it’s a struggle to keep gas in the car on her wages, and she doesn’t get reimbursed for mileage. She was one of the few people who was almost looking forward to jury duty, because it would pay the same/better than what she earns normally!

So I gave Debbie the card and she told my mom later that she was so touched that she cried after reading it.

Caregiving is a job where you may not receive much thanks or positive feedback. Showing a bit of appreciation can go a long way.

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