If you’re caring for an elderly person, you probably worry about keeping them safe on a regular basis. It’s only natural. With aging comes increased risks for slips and falls and a host of other issues that could result in an emergency room visit.
But if you want to limit your chances of something going wrong, you can implement a few daily practices to help keep your elderly friend or a family member safe.
Here are some tips to keep your elderly loved ones safe on a daily basis.
Create a nutrition program
Some people believe that nutrition becomes less important with age, but the reverse is actually true. The digestive system slows down with age, so it’s more important than ever to eat healthy. Having waste build up in your body is a recipe for disaster, especially when you have other health issues. So it’s important to make sure your elderly loved one gets enough fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t making meals for this person, make sure they have an easy path to get and make fruits and vegetables daily.
Give them vitamin D and calcium
It’s difficult to underestimate the importance of bone health in senior citizens. As we age, our bones become more brittle and prone to breakage. But there are a few key nutrients that will help keep your senior’s bones as strong as possible. Vitamin D and calcium are two of the more important vitamins for bone health, but they aren’t the only ones. In addition to these two, consider giving your elderly companion a daily multivitamin for the full spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals.
Monitor their sleep
Sleep is a crucial component of good health, and enough of it can help keep your elderly loved one safe. You know your coordination suffers when you haven’t had enough sleep, and the same goes for your elderly compatriots. If your loved one is in a nursing home or other care facility, ask for a record of his or her sleep. Or you can invest in an app that will give you an idea of whether your loved one is sleeping through the night. You can also ask the obvious question, but they may not be honest about poor sleep patterns. We all seem to have a built-in function that causes us to prevent other people’s fuss at all costs. If they aren’t sleeping well, consider a melatonin supplement or other sleep aid.
Keep a medication log
This one is crucial for keeping your loved one safe. Many seniors take multiple prescriptions daily, and it can be difficult to keep track of what’s what. He or she should definitely have a pill box for each day of the week, but you may also want to keep a log of medications. This way, you can have conversations with their doctor and medical team about any possible interactions.
Implement an exercise program
Taking a daily walk together is a great way to exercise your elderly friend’s emotional and physical health. Many senior suffer from loneliness and depression, so some quality time can help them feel loved and valued. The exercise can improve their cardiovascular health and keep their bones strong.
Make dentist visits a habit
You might be inclined to think that dental health is less important as you enter your senior years, but that’s a myth. Dental issues are linked to many health conditions, like increased risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. So if you really want to keep your elderly loved one safe, make sure their mouths are healthy.
Get regular vision tests
Not only are seniors at greater risk for eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma, but normal vision changes can have an impact on their safety. We already know that elderly people are at increased risk for falls and fractures, and it’s easy to see how this risk increases when their vision is impaired. Make sure their prescriptions are up-to-date at all times in order to keep your elderly loved one safe.
Get involved in their care
If your elderly friend has his or her wits about them, you may be tempted to take a hands-off approach. But it’s best to get involved, if at all possible. If nothing else, it helps to have someone else on the team who can help with the decision-making process. When we’re younger, we have fewer health-related decisions to make, so it’s easy to go it alone. But as we age, we could all benefit from having a trustworthy person on the inside, helping us make important decisions. And if your loved one is in a care facility, this becomes even more important. Safety at nursing homes is often questionable, and when you’re involved, you can easily spot when something seems off.
When it comes to caring for an elderly friend or loved one, it may seem like you have a lot on your plate. But you’ll find that once you get into a routine, it becomes second nature. Together, you can work to make this person’s last years on this earth as pleasant and pain-free as possible.
Updated: July 14, 2019