Stay on your feet this fall

Medical alarm and protection company LifeCall made the catch phrase “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” part of our popular culture and the punchline of many jokes. But the reality is that falls by seniors that result in injury are nothing to laugh at. Many occupants of nursing homes spend their last days bedridden and immobile due to a series of events resulting from a fall in their home.  A broken hip or other serious injury in an aging body incapable of fully healing is the surest way to go from a life of enjoyable independence to total reliance on others to complete basic life activities.

“Child proofing” is a top priority for new parents intent on preventing injuries to their rambunctious and curious toddlers.  Half a century later, those children, now middle aged, may be required to return the favor, and “senior proof” their parents’ homes.

Here are a few tips to make the home safe and reduce the risk of falls:

  • Get rid of area rugs! According to The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, most falls occur on flat surfaces.
  • Install grab handles in the shower and additional railings on stairs.
  • Keep floors clear of clutter, extension cords, and unnecessary furniture.
  • Install higher wattage bulbs and/or more light fixtures and switches to ensure that seniors with diminished eyesight can navigate safely.
  • Place commonly used items within reach so as not to require stretching, balancing, or the use of a step ladder.

An online search for “assisting devices for the elderly” will provide a long list of safety items, convenience items, and services.  Since the risk of falling can be reduced, but not completely prevented, a medical alert system is mandatory.  Sadly, half of all seniors who spend hours on the floor after a fall die within six months, according to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The two main contributing factors in falls are failing eyesight and difficulty with balance which is often related to medications. Take these simple precautions to make your home a fall-free zone! For additional tips or assistance with any aspect of aging and health, give me a call at 516-584-2007.

Disaster Planning for Those with Special Needs

News reports filled with heartbreaking images of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas are still fresh in many of our minds. While Long Island is frequently spared from the damage of such severe storms, we still remain vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. Planning ahead is essential, especially during hurricane season.

For most, an emergency plan involves stocking up on milk, water, bread and extra batteries for the flashlight. Depending on the severity of the situation, packing up a few necessities, the kids, and the pets and driving to a safer location might be required. This is a luxury reserved for the able-bodied, but what if you are elderly and/or disabled? What if you have medical equipment that requires electricity? How do you evacuate if the elevator becomes inoperable? Assuming you get to the ground floor, who transports you to safety? Will there be food for your service animal?

For those with special needs, an emergency kit will vary depending on the nature of a disability, but might include extra batteries for hearing aids, a collapsible manual wheel chair, a list of caregivers and phone numbers in a sealed plastic baggie, enough medications for a week, catheters, a portable oxygen tank, a few cans of dog food, information in braille, snacks compatible with dietary restrictions, etc.

A generator, for many, is merely a luxury which would keep the refrigerator cold and the TV on. For others who rely on electrically powered medical equipment, a generator is a necessity. There are government funded programs to address this. FEMA has a generator reimbursement program for this purpose. See: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/94768

There are also many federal, state, and local registries for the disabled which notify first responders and help them locate those who might not be able to evacuate on their own.

An excellent resource for the disabled can be found on FEMA’s website,

https://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/FRES/Office-of-Emergency-Management/Emergency-Prep-for-People-with-Special-Needs

Although the elderly and disabled are disproportionately endangered and affected by natural and man-made disasters, effective planning and knowledge of resources can help to avoid tragedies.

Need help with planning for those with special needs? Call me! (516) 584-2007.