What Are the Biggest Safety Risks for Seniors?

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When seniors live alone, they may be at risk of different safety issues. If you have an older parent or loved one, having an idea of what the biggest safety risks are for seniors can help you to find the appropriate care or make the necessary changes in their home to reduce the potential for these accidents to occur. 

The following are some of the risks to think about when you have a loved one who’s a senior. 

Cooking and Food-Related Accidents 

An estimated 450,000 Americans require medical treatment for their burn injuries on an annual basis. 

Cooking accidents are one way burns can occur. Many incidents with seniors and burns are related to scalding, and these risks are higher in older adults who regularly use the kitchen.

To prevent such accidents, it’s a good idea to have sinks equipped with anti-scald devices, and the kitchen of a senior’s residence should also have smoke alarms. Purchase long oven mitts that will cover most of the arm to help prevent other types of kitchen burns too. 

Cuts can occur when seniors cook, and this can be more likely with older people because they may have weaker arm muscles or experience tremors. 

Consider helping your loved one by buying a food chopper with covered blades, or hiring someone who can help them prepare meals. 

There are other risks in the kitchen for seniors, along with potential burns and cuts. For example, choking and food safety are big concerns for seniors.

For example, a senior may not have very good vision or could get confused by a label and consume something they are allergic too. 

Choking risks are higher among elderly people, and it most often happens when someone is talking or laughing while they are eating. 

There are a few different ways to prevent accidents related to food.

First, all food should have labels that are large and easily readable. If you’re preparing food that someone elderly will eat, make sure the pieces are small, and the texture reduces the risk of choking. 

If you have an elderly parent or loved one, regularly check their food to make sure it’s not expired and out-of-date as well. 

Falls

Falling is one of the biggest risks elderly people face, particularly when they’re at home. 

There are various ways to help prevent falls or mitigate the injuries that can occur if a fall does happen.

For example, equip your family member’s home with nonskid floormats, particularly in areas most likely to get wet. 

Make sure their home stays clutter-free, so there aren’t items obstructing their walkways. 

You might also think about getting a monitoring device so your loved one can seek emergency help if they do fall and aren’t able to get back up on their own. 

Other steps for helping prevent falls among seniors include:

  • Make sure your loved one is attending all of their health care appointments because symptoms like dizziness or loss of balance can be related to the symptoms of health conditions or medications, and they can be discussed with their doctor.
  • Ensure your loved one regularly checks in with an eye doctor and if they wear glasses that they have a current prescription. 
  • Regularly do a safety assessment of their home looking at things like lighting, whether or not there are rails along the stairs, and also think about things like installing grab bars in the shower or tub and near the toilet. 

Medication 

There is a range of ways medication can pose a safety risk to seniors. 

One way is if the medication causes side effects such as loss of coordination or drowsiness. This could put an older person at a greater risk of an accident such as a fall.

Sometimes older people may not remember taking certain medications, so they may take them more than once, and this can lead to adverse side effects or even an overdose.

You can help your loved one by creating a medicine schedule and then an organizer to help them keep track of their doses and when they take them. 

Finally, anything related to driving can become riskier the older we get. Problems with vision, hearing, and cognition can all contribute to driving risks. If possible, try to arrange transportation for your elderly loved one so that he or she can get to places they need to go without getting behind the wheel. 

You can also plan a time each week or several times a week where you come by and drive them on their essential errands. 

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