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Improving seniors’ safety and wellbeing in the home

By Vanessa Racine, social medias coordinator

Please visit our COVID‑19 resource page for the most current information about Red Cross programs, support and tips.
 
A seniors' hands resting on top of a cane.Often a senior’s wellbeing involves looking into day-to-day safety to prevent injuries or even inconveniences. Here are some tips that may prove useful for seniors, especially during the pandemic.

For further tips for individuals at a higher risk of complications during COVID-19, see this article
 

Emergencies


When seniors live alone, it’s important to be prepared for emergencies such as a fall or illness.
 
It can be reassuring to have access to an emergency call service. Most alert systems currently on the market have a wireless call button that can connect you to emergency services at any time in the event of a problem. Seniors who are ill or living alone are the most likely to benefit from this type of service.
 
Here are some additional tips for dealing with emergencies:
 
  • Make sure that all the emergency numbers are clearly visible in strategic locations (such as on the fridge or near phones). Dialing 911 is probably the best strategy in a moment of panic.
  • Don’t wait to call emergency services. Many people hesitate or wait to ask for help, which can have adverse consequences.
  • Make a list of contacts to call if a problem arises. Choose people who live nearby and are available.
  • Create an emergency action plan and periodically review the steps in the plan. For more information about preparing for emergencies, see our articles.
 

Preventing falls


Did you know that falls are behind 10% of emergency room visits and 85% of hospitalizations for seniors? And that 40% of those people will experience a hip fracture after their fall? According to Quebec’s national public health institute, over a million seniors aged 65 and up live at home, and one third of them will experience a fall this year.
 
Bones become brittle and more fragile with age. Some people are more prone to this than others, and many suffer from a silent disease called osteoporosis. Falls can directly impact seniors’ health and autonomy. A fall can have disastrous consequences for seniors, such as lengthy hospitalizations, infections, permanent injuries, and disabilities. 
 
This is why it’s important to make preventing falls a priority. Here are some useful tips to reduce the risk of falls at home:
 
  • Make the bathroom and the stairs, the two highest-risk areas in the home, as safe as possible.
  • In the bathroom, use accessories like securely mounted support bars or a shower chair.
  • Make sure that stairs are outfitted with an accessible and securely attached handrail for support.
  • Avoid objects or furniture that needlessly clutter and block walkways when moving around the house.
  • Remove rugs, unless they have a specific purpose (such as a non-slip bath mat).
  • Use mobility aids when needed (such as a walker or cane), and make sure that they are suitable and properly adjusted.
  • Place a bench near the front door for sitting on when putting on shoes and boots.
 

Using medications safely


When used properly and as prescribed, medications help maintain a person’s health and quality of life. Seniors often need to take multiple medications at once. This can pose a risk if they are not taken correctly, causing side effects and increasing the risk of falls and injuries.
 
Here are a few tips:
 
  • Clean out your medicine cabinet regularly.
  • Never take medication or natural products without first talking to your doctor or pharmacist and making sure that you understand the dosage recommendations.
  • Always keep a full and updated list of your regular and as-needed medications.
  • Consider using a daily pill organizer to avoid forgetting or taking too much medication.
 
If you have any medication-related concerns, talk to your doctor or pharmacist right away. To learn more about using medications safely, visit the Government of Canada site.
 
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