June is celebrated each year as “National Safety Month” in the United States. Sponsored by the National Safety Council, the idea behind National Safety Month is simply to help people of all ages stay safe, at work, at home, and on the roadways. If you have an elderly family member, loved one, or neighbor, why not celebrate National Safety Month by doing a few things to make sure your senior family member, loved one, or neighbor stays safe too.
Why Focus on a Senior for National Safety Month?
Sadly, seniors suffer far more injuries and are the victims of far more abuse that their younger counterparts. All too often, those injuries or that abuse could have been prevented. If you care for someone who is a senior, there are steps you can take now that could prevent future injury or that might help prevent your loved one from becoming a victim of abuse. Hopefully, you will keep up your efforts year around; however, to get you started during National Safety Month, consider the following actions you can take to help keep a senior safe:
- “Senior proof” the house – remember when your children were very young and you “baby-proofed” the house? You may need to do the same thing for a senior. Navigating their own home can become difficult for the elderly as their physical body starts to betray them. Bending down can be harder than it once was as can reaching up. Therefore, rearranging cabinets so that commonly needed items are where they can be reached can prevent falls. More drastic measures may need to be taken if your senior is now confined to a wheelchair or a walker. Along with making things more accessible, you may need to widen doorways or change floor coverings.
- Arrange transportation – the elderly are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents for a reason – because many of them should not still be driving. They continue to drive, however, because they feel they have no choice. By helping to arrange transportation through public or private means you could be preventing a serious accident.
- Discuss dangers – often, having a frank and honest conversation about the numerous dangers a senior faces is the best way to prevent those dangers from becoming a reality. Sit down with your elderly loved one and discuss things such as the risk of falls, the possibility of suffering from Alzheimer’s and//or the sad fact that predators may try to prey on an elderly individual.
- Administer regular memory “tests” – watching a loved one as Alzheimer’s takes over can be heart wrenching; however, recognizing the signs is crucial to keeping your loved one safe. One way to gauge how your loved one is doing is to administer regular memory “tests.” The natural aging process will cause memory to fade some; however, if you notice substantial changes from one test to the next it may be time for a professional evaluation.
- Safeguard valuables – financial exploitation is the leading type of elderly abuse. To ensure that your elderly loved one does not become a victim of financial abuse make sure his/her valuables are locked up and that financial accounts are monitored.
- Screen caregivers – sadly, abuse and neglect of the elderly occurs on a regular basis in the U.S. One way to prevent your loved one from becoming a victim of elderly abuse and neglect is to screen caregivers very carefully. Don’t stop there though. Once hired, make sure you continue to watch over a caregiver for signs that he/she is not treating your loved one with the care he/she deserves.
The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” definitely applies here because once a senior has been injured or abused it can take much longer for them to heal, if they ever completely heal.
If you have additional questions about elder law or elder abuse in the State of North Dakota please contact the experienced elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.