For the first time ever, seniors in Canada outnumber children. A 2016 survey found that the aging population is far surpassing the younger generation, which means focus in care must switch to the elderly. As people are living longer, aging individuals are continuing to have active social lives well into their twilight years. It has become the responsibility of everyone, from home health aides to family members, to make sure seniors are safe when they travel outdoors. Create a safe environment for seniors to enjoy by taking a few extra steps in their care.
Check the Environment
The first step is to check the outdoor environment. Is it easy to get in and out of the home? Is the entrance on a flat surface? If it’s not, is the railing on the stairs sturdy? Is the driveway paved and sealed properly help reduce falls? An uneven ground is a common fall hazard for any age, though falling hazard increases as we age. Make sure the path between the home and the vehicle is clear. Check other home exits as well. Clean up the yard and fill in divots to help the senior avoid tripping. If necessary, install ramps or railings, or even out entryways to give the senior a clear path. Check the doorways for rugs and consider removing them, as they are tripping hazards. Make sure all pathways are well-lit, and consider installing motion sensor lights to ensure paths are always visible. Use salt during the winter, and shovel consistently to keep slippery conditions reduced.
Check the Person
Make sure the senior’s shoes fit well and include a slip-proof sole. Install non-slip surfaces in walking areas, such as at the entryways, to ensure traction. Add reflective material or outdoor lighting at entryways and on any outdoor walking paths. Make sure the senior carries a fully charged cell phone at all times, in case an emergency happens and he or she is outdoors alone. Consider a cell phone carrier that truly includes service wherever the senior enjoys spending time outdoors. Talk to the senior about spending time outdoors with a friend, getting a walking partner, or spending time in a public park. This provides an extra level of outdoor safety.
Reconsider Outdoor Activities
Unfortunately, some of the outdoor activities may need to change to keep the senior safe. For example, a gardener may need to reinvent the hobby to reduce the danger of being outdoors. Get creative when changing activities to help the senior keep beloved hobbies while staying safe. The senior does not need to give up hobbies, but he or she does need to change how they are done to increase safety. Some examples include switching a hiker from the trail to a paved, even surface. The gardener can switch to container gardening on a raised surface. Seniors can find outdoor activities to do with others for safety, as well. The senior should stay active outdoors, but should consider how to maintain beloved activities while staying safe.
Growing older is inevitable, and it is wonderful. Caring for our aging parents requires a few extra steps, but they are worth it for the extra time we get to spend with our beloved family members.
For more information about in home care options, contact our Community Home Care Program Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org or 778.373.1237.
By Jane Anthony, Freelance Author and Content Editor