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Making Sense of Senior Safety

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Observing the safety hazards in a senior’s home is one thing. Living them is another.

It’s not always easy to understand the physical limitations older adults face that could make home a virtual minefield for an aging parent.

According to research conducted by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network, nearly 100% of emergency room doctors in the U.S. and Canada report that the following health conditions are very serious risk factors as potential causes for injuries or accidents at home:

  • Mobility Problems
  • Poor Eyesight
  • Balance Issues
  • Confusion or Dementia
  • Impaired Motor Skills

Try putting yourself in a senior’s shoes. Difficult? Perhaps this will put things in perspective:

As time goes on, the effects of aging could impact all senses including hearing, vision, taste, smell and touch. These sensory changes often affect an older adult’s lifestyle as well. It’s a domino effect, of sorts, that might make a senior vulnerable to safety issues in the home.

Poor eyesight, for instance, could make it more difficult to see a throw rug, safely use a knife to cut an apple or take the proper dose of medication.

Aging’s Effects on the Five Senses

The following describes how aging can compromise the five senses:

Sight: By the time someone is 60, pupils decrease to about one-third the size they were at age 20. Add to that aging-related eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Taste: We start out with about 9,000 taste buds. They decrease in both number and mass with aging.

Smell: Sense of smell can diminish, especially after age 70, because of loss of nerve endings and less mucus in the nose.

Touch: Decreased blood flow to nerve endings as we age can reduce the sense of pain and temperature.

Hearing: Our ears control hearing and sense of balance, both of which can be compromised as we age.

Making Home Safer for Seniors with Diminished Senses

It’s possible to counteract the effects of aging by being proactive. In fact, 100% of emergency room doctors surveyed in both the U.S. and Canada say it is very important that adult children take a least one day each year to perform a safety check of their loved one’s home.

Discover the ways you could help older adults safeguard their homes by completing a room-by-room safety check.

Last revised: April 21, 2014

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. June 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Posted by Lisa

    Great, now I am totally depressed.


  2. June 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Posted by Patty Turbeville

    My worries are the phone and regular mail. Mom will pick up the phone and speak to strangers. One, even got her to boot up her computer (which she rarely uses). Regular mail invites her to get "free installation", "free information", publishers clearing house is awful... she jumps through their hoops for months before we know about it. And, we live here and see mom a few times a week! I tried talking with mom about these things. It's usually "After". Is there a way to prevent this? It also happens to my elderly in-laws. What can we do to keep them safely at home and "independent"? They still drive during the day.


    • April 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Posted by Wendy Reynard

      Easy, have her mail go to a P.O.Box and then you pick it up first and go thru it, Should she really be handling her own bills right now anyway. When I first came to live here to take care of my Mother In-law and her sister I found out they have been paying $80. A month for two phones’, one for my Brother In-Law and one for them. My Brother In-Law had not used that phone for over a year and their phone was dead in a drawn, I looked at the past bills and 0 minute's used a mouth for over 2 years, they wasted over $2100. For two years. I canceled them. I found a lot of things they were over paying for. And I found out a relative was using there SSI# to take out loans with their name's, she even took a second out of my Aunts house. They kept getting letters and phone calls. When we question them they said they were handling it they thought by just telling them over the phone it not them, that was all they had to do. We have to keep a better eye on things. The biggest mistake I think my Husband and Brother In-Law did was thinking that they knew what they were doing. We do not want to but we have to be a little mean and tell them that we are going to take care of things now.


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