Whether they are coming for an afternoon or a week, taking some steps before your grandchildren arrive can help keep them safe during their visit. Adopt any of the following precautions from this grandparents guide to child-proofing that are appropriate for your young visitors’ ages and abilities.
- Gather essential telephone numbers ahead of time. These should include the numbers of the children’s parents, their pediatrician, and your area’s poison-control center.
- If you have a gun, make sure it’s not loaded. Keep it locked up and store the ammunition in a separate place.
- Keep small and sharp objects off the floor and out of reach.
- Put safety plugs in wall sockets.
- Don’t let electric cords dangle where children can reach them.
- Lock doors that go outside, to stairs or to garages.
- Don’t leave children alone in a room with a burning fireplace or plugged-in space heater.
- Make certain curtain and blind drawstrings are secured and out-of-reach.
- Use your stove’s back burners and keep pot handles turned to the back of the stove.
- Keep hot foods and drinks away from the edges of tables and counters.
- Don’t allow children under 10 to use a microwave oven.
- Don’t leave a baby alone in a highchair. Always use the safety straps.
- Don’t use tablecloths. Children can pull down plates, hot foods and liquids on themselves.
- Keep cleaning products, knives, matches, and plastic bags out of reach.
- Don’t leave children in the tub or shower. Small children can drown in two inches of water within seconds.
- Keep medicines, vitamins, and soap where they can’t be reached. Buy medicines with child-safety caps.
- Always check the bath-water temperature with your hand before putting children into the tub.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the best way to dispose of old medications. Do not toss them in the wastebasket.
- Don’t keep any medications, vitamins, or other medicines on or in your bedside table. Children often swallow pills because they look like candy. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, grandparents’ medications account for nearly 20 percent of drug ingestions by children.
A baby’s bedroom
- Keep the crib away from window blinds and drapery cords.
- Put the baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib with a flat, firm mattress with no soft bedding underneath. Doing so reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
- In case of emergency, take the following steps if a grandchild swallows something dangerous or is burned or injured in any other way.
- Call 911 or your community’s emergency medical response number.
- Call the child’s parents.
- Call the child’s pediatrician.
Source: Stanford Children’s Health
As the seasons of fall and winter progress, there are rituals and celebrations that dominate our lives. For the many aging in place professionals that we train, their clients have family members who will fuss over them, include them in dinners and outings, spend time in their homes and add joy to their lives. And for some, none of those experiences will happen.
Caregivers are often the family members all year long but find the work especially poignant this time of year. So what are some great ways to support your client or loved one through the winter season?
Keeping them safe and positioned to thrive is the best gift! We can suggest these helpful tips to family members looking to find the best way to help professional caregivers provide quality care.
Certainly, the gift of time and communication is always the most appreciated. Setting a regular time or day of the week for a phone call, Skype or Facetime visit for non-local family members can be invigorating and improve our overall wellbeing.
There are also some practical safety tips for your client or family member during this time of year. The first is home maintenance; cleaning gutters, clearing pathways of leaves, debris or snow, checking fireplaces, dryer vents and furnace filters – even de-cluttering, taking magazines and papers off the stairs, and checking batteries in motion-sensor or dusk to dawn lights. Doing these activities safely often involves the right equipment and tools. Getting help with these tasks for your client or loved one may be the most important gift this year!
Remember, too, that the changes from daylight savings time to standard time means we need to check the lighting inside the house because it is dark earlier.
We should also check the outside lighting, too. If solar lights are the primary path lights, check the batteries and the placement to ensure that the lights can collect as much sunlight as possible to work effectively.
The longer, darker hours can create a greater sense of isolation so plan for additional activities or again, this may be a good time to embrace the technology of communication to help your clients stay connected to others. We can wrap our care around clients and family members with a personal emergency response system (PERS) too. This will improve peace of mind for your client or loved one as the weather gets colder and more challenging. You can learn more about personal emergency response system here: https://agesafeamerica.com/medical-alert-products/ and you can fill out the form for more information or assistance.
For even more safety tips on these topics and more for clients, yourselves and your families, too, please go to AgeSafeAmerica.com.
Fritzi Gros-Daillon, MS, CSA, CAPS, UDCP, SHSS
Director of Education and Advocacy
Age Safe® Live Well.
Veterans Day 2019 Age Safe® America
Veterans Day 2019 is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast.
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urging of the veterans service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Age Safe® America is proud to be a training and outreach partner with the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Members of the (SAH) team have participated in the Senior Home Safety Specialist training and ASA will be training professionals serving our veterans with home modification programs. The VA provides grants to Servicemembers and Veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities to help purchase or construct an adapted home, or modify an existing home to accommodate a disability. Two grant programs exist: the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant.
If you are a Veteran or serving Veteran clients, please explore these opportunities to help:
The VA’s Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant program has a streamlined application process for veterans with specific physical injuries or loss that is designed to create a barrier-free living environment. This program offers up to $90.364. for specially adapted home modifications.
There is a Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant for veterans with specific injuries that has a current maximum of $18,074.
There is a Temporary Residence Assistance grant program available to eligible veterans and service members who are temporarily residing in the home owned by a family member. The maximum amount available to adapt the family member’s home for veterans who qualify for SAH is $39,069 and those who qualify for SHA is $7,083.
Learn more about eligibility and the application at: https://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/adaptedhousing.asp
The Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program is also available. There is a lifetime benefit of $6800 for veterans or service members with a service-connected condition. These funds can be applied to projects allowing ingress or egress, use of sinks, roll-in showers, improved pathways and plumbing and electrical systems to support modifications.
To learn more specifics about the program and application process, go to: https://www.prosthetics.va.gov/psas/HISA2.asp
Learn more: https://agesafeamerica.com/getting-help-to-pay-for-home-repairs-or-modifications/
Recently I had the pleasure of presenting to a Parkinson’s support group in my home town. It was a great group of 30+ people who are affected in some way by Parkinson’s. One of the heavy topics of the day was the cost of medical care, and the decreasing coverage of insurances every year. The leader of the group brought up how Dementias of all sorts are going to provide an enormous strain on the resources of our existing healthcare system within the coming generation. She is not wrong!
Currently there are almost 5.8 million Americans with the disease according to the Alzheimer’s association. It is expected that by 2050, 13.8 million people will have the disease…as much as 1 in 3 people over the age of 85. When we add in other types of dementia, Lewy Body, Frontotemporal, vascular, this number continues to increase greatly and at an earlier age. Baby boomers are growing older and coming to an age when the disease most commonly strikes.
What is Alzheimer’s? It is a form of dementia. Little is actually known about what combination of factors causes Alzheimer’s disease, though it is believed that genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposures (improper diet, chemical exposure, etc.) are all contributors. We do know that three specific brain changes that contribute to this: 1. A protein builds up in the brain causing plaques. 2. A second protein also accumulates causing tangles. 3. This combination causes nerve cells to die and the brain actually shrinks in size.
The most commonly recognized symptom is a memory problem, but the disease does not always start this way. Sometimes it is a difficulty processing new information, make decisions on complicated factors, plan new events. Sometimes it shows up as having difficulty with finances. I had a customer who was a CFO of a company, his first presentation was that he thought he was able to trade stocks and proceeded to trade his and his spouse’s retirement accounts to zero. They were millionaires, and his wife did not notice he was doing it until it was too late. Additionally, a person may hallucinate things are there that aren’t, or smell or hear something that is not there. I had another customer who could smell apples in the middle of the night. She would get up and look for the apples and had several falls.
It is important to note that it is not always easy to see the memory issues up front as it is not always the most prevalent sign. Some people have “large cognitive reserves,” high initial IQ, lots of education, jobs that required lots of brain power or were demanding, and are very good at hiding their symptoms or compensating. They are good at making sure you don’t see it. However, as this disease progresses, confusion about time and place, difficulty speaking and writing, poor judgement, changes in personality, aggression and agitation, and decreased recognition of loved ones starts to present. Eventually people lose the ability to speak, walk, sit, and even swallow.
Even though the majority of people with Alzheimer’s disease are 65 years and older, it is not considered a normal part of aging. It does sometimes occur in younger people. There are about 200,000 people with Alzheimer’s who are younger than 65 years old. Risk factors include family history, type II diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, brain trauma, being female, African American and Latino descent.
The average person with this disease will live 4-8 years after diagnosis and almost half of that time will be in the more severe phases of the illness, requiring around the clock care. This is quite often more care than a loved one can provide. Families quickly learn how expensive long term care solutions can be. Caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will cost $290 billion this year alone. By 2050, the cost will rise to $1.1 trillion. It is by far the most expensive disease in the USA! This single disease will bankrupt Medicare. This is considering Medicare only covers the initial skilled episode. They do not cover the long term care for the person with the disease.
Far greater than the financial toll, is the emotional one. Families fall apart from this. They experience the loss of the person that they know right in front of their eyes. It is cruel and difficult to observe the person you once know disappear slowly into this disease.
Knowing how expensive and prevalent this is, we are attempting to provide environmental and technological solutions to assist in the caregiver burden, and provide strategies to keep people safely in their homes for a greater amount of time. We know that as time moves along with this illness, expenses arise including private duty caregiving, transportation, medication management, and safety strategies. We at SeniorSAFE will assess your home and make the necessary changes to decrease risk of falls and reduce caregiver strain.
Guest Post by:
Kristopher Rench, OT, OTD, OTR/L, CLVT, CMT II, CSHSS
CEO, SeniorSAFE, LLC
Age Safe® America Advisory Team Member
Copyright © *2019* *SeniorSAFE, LLC*, All rights reserved.
Fall is here, which means, like it or not, cold weather is just around the corner. While most of us would prefer not to think about turning on our heat just yet, this is actually the best time to check your heating to ensure everything is operating as it should. Neglecting to winterize your home and letting small issues pile up can have big repercussions. Ahead of the winter season, make sure you’re aware of three major things that may go wrong if you don’t winterize your house or neglect your heating system.
- Your utility bills may skyrocket. Utility bills often jump up in the winter due to the increased hours of darkness and the cost to heat your home. But if your heater is on the fritz or your filters are clogged, you could be in for an even bigger surprise. Dirty filters cause your furnace to work harder, which leads to inefficiency and a shortened lifespan for your heating system. Replacing filters is often an easy task for homeowners. A yearly tune-up is an inexpensive way to help prevent a costly system breakdown in the coming months. Also, keep in mind that some warranties require annual tune-ups, so don’t let your warranty go invalid by skipping this year’s tune-up.
- The threat of carbon monoxide is very real. Do you know how old your furnace is? Do you know how long it’s been since a professional checked it over? Carbon monoxide poses a health threat when the heating system flue, vent or chimney becomes blocked from debris or other material. During a heating system tune-up, a professional service technician can check to make sure all your vents are not blocked and are working properly. Drains and traps also need to be checked and combustion gases should be analyzed and compared to the specifications of your furnace or boiler to make sure everything is running safely. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is another smart way to help with early detection.
- Water pipes can burst. It’s not just your heating system that needs to be winterized. All too often it happens – we wake up to realize our pipes are frozen, or even worse, leaking. Before the cold sets in, make sure outside hoses are put away and water is turned off. Evaluate which pipes are at the greatest risk for freezing during cold weather. For example, if your water pipes come up from an un-insulated crawl space, or if they are in or close to an uninsulated outside wall or vent, they are more likely to freeze and burst in low temperatures. Inside pipes should be covered in insulation to keep pipes warmer longer. Pipe insulation is easy to apply and available at most hardware stores and home centers.
By having an annual tune-up in the fall, you can catch small issues now, instead of experiencing bigger problems in the dead of winter. A tune-up with a reputable local company can also save energy, reduce heating costs and prevent a system breakdown in the coming months.
A firefighter helps an elderly couple plan for their escape from a home fire. Credit: US Fire Administration
Age Safe America announces Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12 from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This years theme is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”. This year’s campaign recognizes the everyday people who motivate their households to develop and practice a home fire escape plan; these seemingly basic behaviors can have life-saving impact. For those of us who are older adults or care for older adults, this message is vital.
“This year’s campaign works to celebrate people of all ages who learn about home fire escape planning and practice, bring that information home, and spur their families to action,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA.
“Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” also focuses on what a home escape plan entails and the value of practicing it. These messages are more important than ever, particularly because today’s homes burn faster than ever. Carli notes that synthetic fibers used in modern home furnishings, along with the fact that newer homes tend to be built with more open spaces and unprotected lightweight construction, are contributing factors to the increased burn rate.
“People tend to underestimate their risk to fire, particularly at home. That over-confidence lends itself to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice,” said Carli. “But in a fire situation, we’ve seen time and again that advance planning can make a potentially life-saving difference.”
A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. It also includes two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window, with a clear path to an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that’s a safe distance from the home. Home escape plans should be practiced twice a year by all members of the household. If you are an older adult, a family or professional caregiver, the escape routes may be different and the traditional escape routes, such as the windows, may not be feasible. So it is vital to identify the routes that will work with the challenges. Remember to notify local fire and emergency personnel if someone in the home has special equipment or difficulty leaving the home. Many fire departments have special lists for individuals in their territory who may require additional assistance.
A new study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows scientifically for the first time that an individual’s ability to respond quickly to a residential fire determines who dies and who gets injured. Home fire deaths, the NIST researchers state, are more likely among those they define as frail populations—persons who are not in robust health and primarily age 65 and older—while nonfatal injuries occur more often in adults ages 20 to 49.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week and “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!,” along with a wealth of resources to help promote the campaign locally, visit fpw.org.