2 posts tagged “crisis”

Home Safety Month: Pointers for “aging in place”

Posted June 29th, 2018 by

June is National Home Safety Month and there’s a buzz around “aging in place,” so we’ve gathered tips and products that can help today’s (stylish) older adults avoid falls and live well at home for years to come.

A top home-safety goal: Fall prevention

Falls are a growing problem when it comes to home safety, as many older adults opt to live independently at home for as long as possible.

“Although many seniors are more active and living longer, more than 1 in 4 report falling,” according to the CDC. “Emergency departments treat over 3 million older Americans for falls each year while direct medical expenses add up to more than $31 billion annually.”

(When you join PatientsLikeMe, you can report and track falls as a symptom on your profile and see what others have said about falls and fall prevention here.)

Because falls can cause severe injury and loss of independence, the CDC encourages you to talk openly with your healthcare provider(s) about them as soon as possible, even if you don’t get injured. They can do a screening on your future fall risk and help address balance or vision problems, medication side effects and other factors.

Preventing falls isn’t the only way you can make your house more safe. It may be worth considering installing something like a home security camera in order to deter any burglars or criminals in your area.

Home safety pointers

The CDC offers a free brochure called “Check for Safety: A Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults.” And here are the main tips, in a nutshell:

  • Get rid of things you could trip over.
  • Add grab bars inside and outside of your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
  • Put railings on both sides of stairs.
  • Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.

An expert voice on “aging in place”

The New York Times recently published an interview with Linda Shrager, the author of a new book called “Age in Place” and an occupational therapist with almost 40 years of experience.

“It’s cheaper to stay in your home, even if you have to make some renovations and get an aide a few days a week to help,” Shrager says. “It’s money well spent and a lot cheaper than assisted living. But it’s important not to wait until there’s a crisis — a parent falls and breaks her hip.”

A few of her suggestions that stand out:

  • When you declutter, don’t keep a “maybe” pile of things that’ll just collect dust
  • Use stools that don’t fold
  • Cook with a toaster or microwave (since stoves or ovens come with more hazards)
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom — one of the most hazardous rooms in the house

Safety can be stylish

Fortunately, products geared toward home safety have become more attractive in recent years. Here are a few trends and products we’ve spotted related to modern home safety:

Home modifications can get pricy, so check out this list of grants and resources from Home Advisor.

Have you had a fall lately? Any questions, thoughts or tips on home safety you’d like to chat about with the community? Join PatientsLikeMe and this forum discussion today!

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Ready as you can be? Disaster preparedness when you’re living with a health condition

Posted October 5th, 2017 by

The recent string of tragic natural disasters highlights the importance of planning ahead (as much as possible) for managing your medical needs in the wake of a crisis. So we’ve gathered some expert preparation tips and ideas for what to keep in an emergency supply kit.

All the victims of these disasters are in our thoughts. If you were affected, see a list of U.S. federal resources here, including the national Disaster Distress Helpline — open 24/7 for people experiencing emotional difficulties after any natural or man-made disaster.

Make a plan

“You are in the ideal position to plan for your own safety as you best know your abilities and needs during and after an emergency or disaster,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC advises that people with disabilities or special health considerations make plans with the help of family members and/or care partners.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) offers these general tips for getting ready for a disaster:

  • Get informed. Know what kinds of disasters can happen in your community, and familiarize yourself with local warning systems, evacuation routes and shelters. If you will need help in a disaster, contact local emergency officials about any assistance they can provide and whether any local shelters will be equipped to care for evacuees with special medical needs. Also, most shelters don’t allow pets, so plan accordingly.
  • Create an emergency stockpile kit. While different disasters can require different stockpile items, a few basics are needed for any emergency. These include a battery-operated radio, clean water and nonperishable foods, a first-aid kit, a manual can opener, extra batteries, important medications and documents, a flashlight, water-purifying agents, clothing, bedding, copies of important documents and pet food, if needed. Make your kit portable in case of evacuation or make a second stockpile kit that you can easily take with you.
  • Practice and communicate. Include all of your household members in creating an emergency plan and putting together a stockpile kit. Also, practice by doing drills. Designate an emergency meeting point and contact person in case an emergency happens when you are separated. Being involved in the preparedness process is critical for building confidence and can lessen stress and mental health effects.

Make sure you have a supply of your medications on hand by filling your prescriptions at the earliest possible date (and store them according to the instructions). If you have medications that require refrigeration, keep gel ice packs in your emergency supply kit in case of a power outage. Even if you don’t store extra medications right in your supply kit, keep a list of your medications in your kit so that you know what to grab in a hurry.

Consider the specifics

For pointers on preparing for your own specific medical needs and the types of disasters that could possibly affect your region, check out these additional resources:

  • The APHA’s collection of emergency preparation guides for specific types of disasters — from tornadoes and earthquakes to blizzards and wildfires — as well as manmade disasters and health pandemics
  • Alaska’s “Get Ready!” Toolkit and Oregon’s “Ready Now!” Toolkit — thorough disaster prep guides for people with disabilities, including how to pack a supply kit, make an evacuation plan, and prepare pets and service animals for emergencies (note: in the “Ready Now!” document, skip to page 9 for universal tips for people outside of Oregon)
  • Emergency 2.0 Wiki’s accessibility toolkit — a crowd-sourcing site that pools resources (like videos, social media tools and specialized smartphone apps) to make emergency information accessible to everyone, including people with hearing, vision and communication difficulties
  • Smart911 — a free service that the CDC recommends because it allows you to create a private safety profile that instantly transmits information you specify (such as your health conditions and medications) to the 9-1-1 dispatcher’s computer screen when you place an emergency call.

“Being prepared for the unexpected is one of the best ways to lessen the impact of a disaster, both physically and mentally,” the AHA says. “Plus, knowing you’re prepared will help you stay calm and clear-headed in the face of a disaster so you can make safe decisions for you and your loved ones.”

Do you have any additional tips? Join PatientsLikeMe today to share your ideas and talk about topics like this with others in the forum.

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