So You Think You Are Just a Phone Call Away?
You Move Mom A Mile Down The Road So You Can Be Just A Phone Call Away. What is your medical emergency backup plan? Do you have one?
You give dad a cell phone with your number programmed in so you can be just a phone call away. You buy your parents a large numbered, easy to use, telephone system with extensions for each room and your number on speed dial so you can be just a phone call away.
All of these precautions so that your aging loved ones can get you on the phone in case of an emergency. But have you considered what may happen if they can't reach the phone?
Falling is inevitable with the elderly. It's an unfortunate truth that is synonymous with aging, and the older one gets the higher the risk becomes. Assuming that a phone will be close by in the event of an emergency isn't being as precautionary as one would think.
Fear of falling is a genuine concern for older adults and, "people with arthritis may be especially venerable to losing their balance because of weak muscles and stiff joints associated with many forms of the condition" says Debbie Rose, the co-director of the Center for Successful Aging at California State University, Fullerton.
Yet arthritis is only one factor that may cause a fall. Other medical conditions and dizziness associated with medication can easily cause a senior to be off balance too.
Making your elderly loved one safe at home, especially when alone, involves more than getting extra phones. According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, safety involves keeping stairways, hallways, and pathways clear of any debris; fastening handrails, steps and carpets when needed; Mounting grab bars near toilets and in showers; laying down non-skid mats or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet or become slippery; keeping electric cords and wires near walls and out of walking paths; putting a night light close to the bed and keeping a phone nearby.
These measures are good ways to assist in keeping a senior from falling, and having a phone nearby can be helpful at times but you need to consider what would happen if the fallen senior either can't reach a phone or reach you by phone.
What is your medical emergency backup plan? Do you have one?
A personal medical alert system
A personal medical alert system, where a pendant or watch is worn, has an emergency team standing by with only one push of a button away. Some medical alert systems will automatically dispatch help even if the elder can't talk or get to the phone,
Preventive maintenance is also key and you can start by enrolling elders into balance and mobility classes given by community hospitals, schools and churches in order to keep your venerable loved one balanced and flexible.
Additionally, here are some tips to maintain the wellness of seniors provided by Eldercare for Dummies:
- Don't allow your elder to become sedentary. Inactivity causes muscles to become even weaker.
- When your elder rises from a sitting position, remind him or here to stand still for a few minutes before take a first step. This pause gives your elder's blood pressure a chance to adjust.
- Check your elder's feet regularly. Neglected toenails curling about the toes can impair the elder's ability to walk.
- Light up your elder's path. Nightlights that switch on automatically at twilight and lamps with sensors that automatically go on when lights go low can accommodate to your elder's age-related need for more light.
- Make sure that your elder keeps the nighttime temperature in the home above 65 degrees.Hours in a cold bedroom may cause his or her body temperature to drop, leading to dizziness and a fall when he or she tires to get out of bed.
In a busy world, you may not be able to always be there for your loved ones; however, by keeping the home safe and the senior educated on balance and mobility, your emergency plan can be preventive. By adding a personal medical alert system, your plan can be effective too by delivering fast, immediate medical attention even when your loved one can't reach the phone.
Zukerman, Rachelle. Eldercare for Dummies. New York: Wiley, 2003.
Rizzo, Terrie Heinrich. "3 moves to Better Balance." Arthritis Today. May-June 2007:44.
About the Author
Heidi Nestor holds an Associate, Bachelor, and Masters degree in English, Communication, and Reading Comprehension. Heidi has traveled throughout the country and parts of the world lecturing and training on cultural human resources. Currently, she is the writer and editor for Life Alert, and is focused on assisting Life Alert with saving lives.