Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

Seniors & Fall Prevention: How Can You Help Your Aging Loved One?

March 5th, 2018 No Comments

Fall Prevention

If your aging parents or older relatives still live in their own home, you may worry for their safety when you can’t be with them. This fear is understandable, as one in four older Americans experiences a fall every year. In fact, falls are the leading cause of physical injuries–such as hip fractures and broken bones–in adults over the age of 65. Falls are also the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in people over 65.

In addition to the physical impact of falls, fear of falling can create intense emotional distress and even depression in many seniors. This can cause them to refrain from leaving their home or engaging in physical activity.

Is your aging loved one at risk of falling? Here’s how to help.

Do a Home Safety Assessment

It can be difficult to know which areas of your loved one’s home pose the biggest risk for falls. Many of us take a defensive position when it comes to home safety–we don’t correct an issue until a fall or stumble has already happened.

However, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to fall prevention and older people. A serious fall can lead to extreme physical pain, hospitalization or even prolonged disability.

A fall can also lead to psychological distress, including increased fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.  Fear of falling can also increase a senior’s actual fall-risk. Seniors who are afraid of falling exhibit less confidence in their movements and tend to withdraw from physical activity. Lack of physical activity then leads to muscle weakness and lack of balance. These issues compound to increase a senior’s likelihood of experiencing a fall.

A home safety assessment is one of the most effective ways to eliminate tripping and fall hazards in one go. Take a look at the home objectively and pay particular attention to potential fall hazards. You may need to rearrange furniture, enhance lighting, remove throw rugs and cords, or install railing in key spots to reduce or eliminate fall-risk.

Get Vision Correction Materials

Does your loved one have eyesight problems? Does he or she regularly visit the eye doctor and keep up-to-date on their vision prescription, glasses and contacts?

Vision impairment is one of the leading causes of falls by aging individuals in the home. Many older people don’t realize that their vision is worsening. If they are no longer driving or working, it can be difficult for them to gauge vision loss as it may have occurred gradually. It can also be difficult for them to keep eye appointments or make trips to an optical retailer.

Ask about their vision and current vision prescription. Arrange to take them to an eye appointment if they complain of worsening vision.

Improve Strength, Balance, and Gait

According to Institut Nazareth et Louis Braille, lack of balance, weak muscles and uneven gait are main contributors to falls in the home.

  • Many seniors experience muscle weakness and lack of balance as a natural part of aging.
  • Uneven gait is also common, as many seniors have experienced bone fractures or injuries that affect their posture and ability to walk.
  • It’s important to help your loved one stay active. A walk each day or other physical activity can help them build strength. Physical activity can also help improve balance.

If you worry about your loved one getting enough physical activity during the day, a home health care provider–such as professional caregiver employees from Visiting Angels–can help encourage your older parent to take frequent walks, do physical therapy exercises, and be more active overall, with confidence knowing they have a safety supervisor by their side.

Contact Visiting Angels today to learn more about our home health care and personal assistance services in New Jersey.

New Jersey Child/Infant Car Seat Safety Law Change Effective Sept. 1st

August 31st, 2015 No Comments

Car seat safetySeptember 1: NJ Child/Infant Car Seat Safety Law Changes 

New Jersey grandparents and parents: take note of the latest car seat safety law which takes effect September 1st.

  • Children under 2 years and 30 pounds must be fastened in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness
  • Children under 4 years and 40 pounds must remain in a rear-facing seat or a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness
  • Children under 8 years and 57 inches can remain in rear-facing or forward-facing seat or transition to a booster seat
  • Children must be secured in a car seat or booster seat in the back of the vehicle until age 8 or 80 pounds, whichever comes first
As a reminder, it’s NJ law for everyone in a vehicle–both front and back seat passengers–to wear safety belts. Wearing a seat belt, regardless of seating position, increases your chances of surviving a crash by as much as 75%.
For more information, visit the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety website.

Cold weather’s here! Check out winter safety driving tips for older adults…

December 31st, 2013 No Comments

Winter + New Jersey = Icy, Snowy Weather!

Forecasters have predicted possible snow this week in the New Jersey area. Many elder care experts agree that driving ability tends to decrease after the age of 55, but this doesn’t mean that senior drivers can’t still enjoy safe driving–even in our winter weather.

These tips will help older drivers have more confidence when driving in winter months:

  • Maintain your vehicle–check cooling systems, tire pressure, battery, wipers, windshield washer fluid, brakes, anti-freeze, fuel and air filters, heat & defrost systems
  • Install high-quality winter tires–all-weather radial tires are usually sufficient
  • Drive only while well-rested
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car–shovel, ice scraper, flashlight, battery-powered radio, blanket, road salt/sand, extra mittens/hats, snack food, booster cables, emergency flares, first aid kit, distress flags
  • Plan your route–check www.traffic.com for road conditions

To access an additional emergency checklist, check out Visiting Angels’ NJ Senior Care by visiting our elder care New Jersey emergency preparedness resource page.

4 Tips to Save Seniors from Identity Theft

December 17th, 2013 No Comments

Seniors, don’t fall prey to identity theft!

Imagine working hard all of your life and thinking you were finally ready to enjoy the retirement you worked so hard to earn, when all of a sudden you are receiving past due bills for credit cards you didn’t apply for and a significant drop in your credit score. These are all the results of having your identity stolen. Unfortunately, older people are one of the most targeted victims. While Florida ranks #1 with highest rate per capita for reported complaints of identity theft, New Jersey seniors aren’t immune. Seniors are the prime targets because of their vulnerability, typically high credit line and savings accounts. Whether you are a senior or you have an elderly family member or friend or are an elder care giver in NJ, it is important to become educated on ways to prevent identity theft.

1. Carry Around Copies

It is common for seniors to carry their social security, driver’s license or other form of identification that contains their Social Security number. One of the most common places where identity thieves can gain access to a Social Security number is on a Medicare card. To reduce the risk of identity theft, Social Security cards should be left at home and stored in a safe place. When renewing a driver’s license, if given the option of omitting Social Security number from the driver’s license or state ID, opt to leave it off. Although Medicare cards need to be carried in case of an emergency, instead of carrying the original, make a copy and black out the Social Security number.

2. Verify Who’s Calling

One of the most common sources for identity theft is over the phone. It is important that you never give out any personal information, especially your credit card number or bank account information. If anyone calls stating they are from a collection agency, utility company or credit card company, simply hang up. If you do have an account with the company the caller claimed to be from, call the company and speak to a customer representative to determine the nature of the call. Charity organizations often call potential donors, but this is also one of the easiest ways to scam people out of their money as well as identification. Before giving information to a charity organization, visit the Charity Navigator to verify the charity organization is real.

3. What to do with Important Documents

Two of the most important things to invest in is a lock safe box and a shredder. It is not beyond an identity thief to rifle through garbage searching for legal documents that contain all of your information. Store tax returns, Social Security card, credit card statements and any other document that contains your personal information in the lock box. You need to keep tax returns for at least seven years, but anything over 10 years should be shredded. Never throw statements, tax returns or legal documents in the trash; always shred them first.

4. Safeguard Time Online

More and more seniors are using the Internet as a way of connecting with old friends and staying in contact with family. Social media sites, online shopping and online bill paying are easy resources for identity theft. Lifelock on Youtube contains information on how an internet security system can help prevent your identification from being stolen while online. You should never give out personal information while online, especially if someone you do not know asks for your phone number or address. Social media sites are a great place for seniors to meet new friends and stay updated on family events, but it is important to never post when you are going to be away from home, such as going on vacation. If you are unfamiliar with internet security, visit your local library, ask family or a friend or take a local class to learn about firewalls, phishing and staying safe while online.

Guest Author: Sabrina Barnett. Sabrina teaches online classes for multiple institutions.

Older loved ones coming to visit? Tips to prepare your home…

September 26th, 2013 No Comments

NJ elder care tips: Older loved ones visiting

With the holidays coming soon, it’s time to start thinking about your holiday visitors. Perhaps you have older loved ones coming to stay with you for a short time. Take a look around your home, but through the eyes of an older person. What dangers or inconveniences do you see? While it may not be financially reasonable to make major home modifications—such as adding a wheelchair ramp, for example—you’ll want to make your home as comfortable and safe as possible at a low cost. Home modifications aren’t the only thing to consider; examine your lifestyle as well.

Low-Cost Ideas

  • Shower chair. For those who have trouble getting in and out of a tub, a shower chair is a back-saver.
  • Grab bars. Inexpensive temporary grab bars attach easily to a shower wall and will help steady your loved ones.
  • Tighten loose railings and/or steps. Have you been meaning to fix that loose step or stair railing? Go through your home and make sure these important items are tightened.
  • Area rugs. While these might be pleasing to the eye—or are covering up that old coffee stain—to an older person, they are trip hazards. Simply remove them while they’re visiting.
  • What’s for dinner? Know what special considerations your visitors may have, such as low-sodium or intolerance to certain spices, dairy, vegetables, etc. Don’t serve your famous super hot chili to Uncle Joe who has an ulcer. Ask them in advance what they like to eat.
  • Sleeping Conditions. Consider your bedding. Do you have an air mattress for visitors? Is it a tall bed? Many older people have difficulty either getting into a low or high bed. Make adjustments as necessary.
  • Noise. Is your house filled with crying or noisy children? Try to make your loved one’s stay as serene as possible. Don’t keep the kids away from their grandparents, but monitor the reactions of your loved ones. Know when it’s time to have the kids play in another room, for example.

The list could go on and on. The point is to take an objective look at your home and lifestyle and put yourself in your older loved one’s shoes. Enjoy the time you spend together!

Mercer & Burlington County NJ seniors: stay cool!

July 16th, 2013 No Comments

Mercer and Burlington Counties NJ Elder Care Take Precautions For Hot Temperatures

Excessive heat warnings are in effect again for our area. Seniors, especially, should plan to stay out of the heat into a cool place. Senior centers and libraries across the area are open, and offer cool areas to relax, socialize, and/or read a good book. With heat indexes over 100 degrees, it’s important to stay hydrated, so make sure your loved ones are drinking plenty of cool liquid. It’s always a good idea to check on your older neighbors as well. For more heat safety for seniors, read our UV and Heat Safety page.

It’s summer! Keep those eyes protected…

June 25th, 2013 No Comments

With the sunny summer months upon us, it’s time to take a closer look at our own aging eyes, or of those in our NJ elder care circle. The sun’s bright rays can be averted by wearing a hat with a wide brim, along with a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses.

Other ways to protect eyes in the summer and all year long:

  • Wear protective goggles when doing yard work or home improvement projects
  • Use masks or other ways to protect your eyes when playing sports: baseball, golf, handball, tennis, etc.
  • Watch out for chemicals or poison getting in the eyes such as insect repellent, stinging pool chemicals, poison ivy, etc.
  • Be wary of potential hazards that may inadvertently happen: sparks from fireworks, pellet guns, rubber bands or bungee cords snapping off, etc.

Always have your eyes checked on a regular basis by an eye care professional (ophthalmologist or optometrist). If you’re over 65, have them checked yearly. If you experience sudden blurriness, flashes of light, double vision, eye pain, or eyelid swelling, see the professional right away.

June is National Safety Month

June 4th, 2013 No Comments

June is National Safety Month. Falls are the #1 safety issue for those over the age of 65. Check out our June Community Resource page to read more.

New study shows why older people are more trusting…and more open to scams

December 5th, 2012 2 Comments

According to the FTC, 80% of scam victims in the U.S. are over the age of 65. A new study from UCLA and funded by the National Institute on Aging shows why older people may fall prey to scams than do younger people. The study showed photos of faces to two groups. One group was comprised of 119 older people, ages 55-84. The other group had 24 younger people, ages 20-42. They were asked to rank the photos as Trustworthy, Neutral, or Untrustworthy. The photos were judged according to insincere smiles, averted eyes, smirky mouths, etc.

The anterior insula in the brain is what detects untrustworthiness or shiftiness. Interestingly, in the older group, the anterior insula showed little activation when looking at an untrustworthy-looking face, whereas the younger group’s anterior insula became very active. This can help explain why older adults tend to see the positive in people and tend to trust individuals who aren’t trustworthy.

At Visiting Angels NJ, you can rest assured our home care aides can be trusted. We thoroughly screen and have background checks on each aide.

For more on this study, read the story on Wired.com http://bit.ly/R7PSUW.

NJ Seniors: be even more careful when crossing the street!

August 31st, 2012 1 Comment

 

New Jersey’s older adults should be extra cautious when crossing the street, as senior pedestrian death rates are on the rise. This, despite a law that went into effect in April 2010, requiring vehicles to come to a complete stop for pedestrians at a crosswalk, and remain stopped until the person reaches the opposite sidewalk. Fatality rates are higher in more urban parts of NJ. As seniors age, they are naturally slower walkers as they cross the street and they may become victims of drivers who are in a rush or aren’t paying attention. For more, read http://bit.ly/Ns8hKk