With the pandemic now hopefully behind us, how can seniors most safely enjoy and celebrate this summer? Two priorities to keep our community’s elders safe are: 1) avoiding the dangers of excessive summer heat and humidity, and 2) preventing falls, a year round need, but one where summer presents some special challenges.
Keeping Cool During Our Hot Summers - Unfortunately, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can even lead to death, are much more common in the aging. Simple prevention includes staying out of the direct sun between 9 am and 3 pm, exercising in air-conditioning or during the cooler times of day, staying well hydrated with water & electrolytes (sports drinks), and wearing loose, lightly colored clothing. Non-alcoholic iced drinks can also help keep you cool, and be careful consuming alcohol - too much of it can be dangerous, for everyone.
How Do You Spot and Treat Someone Who is Over-heated? People with heat exhaustion or heat stroke can display weakness, dizziness, headache, confusion, a fast pulse, heavy sweating or red, hot, dry or damp skin, and lose consciousness (pass out). Treatment includes moving them to a cooler place, using cool cloths or a cool bath to lower their body temperature, sipping water, and if they do pass out or symptoms get worse, get immediate medical attention or call 911.
Preventing Falls Outside - Falls are one of the major reasons seniors go to the Emergency Dept, get hospitalized, and even suffer an early death. Along with falling from heat exhaustion/stroke, many summer activities can lead to falls. This includes falls while hiking up in our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains or at other area attractions. Along with taking a sturdy walking stick to navigate curbs and other uneven surfaces, be sure to pack all the supplies you need to stay well hydrated and safe from the heat and sun. Be sure as well to take a charged cell phone and let someone not with you know where you’re going and when to expect you back.
Closer to home, other activities that can cause a fall includes yard work and anything involving a ladder. Rather than risking an injury or maybe even your life climbing a ladder to clean a window or paint some trim, hire a college student or a contractor to do the work. It can save you in the long run, literally! Yard work can also involve lifting heavy bags, rocks, or other items, all of which can contribute to joint and back pain, one of the most common reasons seniors go to the doctor and use pain medication. Again, hire someone else to do the work to avoid it becoming a pain in the neck, or your back.
Fall Prevention in the Home - although we all know how important it is to prevent falls, we often avoid or delay making needed home safety modifications. Right now, during the summer, is as good a time as any to finally make those necessary changes. Start with a home safety assessment for which there are many good lists on-line, including from AARP. Then follow-thru on the priority items, to keep you and your loved ones safe this summer and then the whole year through.
ENJOY THE SUMMER, SAFELY!
Please plan to come to The Center at Belvedere in Charlottesville for a monthly seminar series devoted to senior living needs and services. The Center is now back open and following the latest health and safety protocols.
Tuesday, July 6
Join a representative from Simple Comforts for information on the latest medical equipment available to help you age in place more confidently and comfortably.
Tuesday, August 3
John O'Connor with Monticello Reverse Mortgage will discuss the options available to Seniors for freeing up the equity in their homes to provide liquidity during retirement. He will also provide information regarding the option Seniors have to use a reverse mortgage to purchase a new home if the need arises.
Registration - go to: https://thecentercville.org/calendar/event/20019/2021/05/04/
Blue Ridge Eldercare invites seniors, caregivers & healthcare providers to identify individuals who could benefit from the following TeleHealth support services:
This year give your elderly loved ones the gift of helping them age in place more safely and securely. Studies find that nearly 90% of people want to stay in their homes as long as possible. Aging in Place gifts include installing home safety equipment, arranging for help in or around the home, and helping your loved ones get their financial affairs in order. “Gift Certificates” like the below can be personalized to meet your loved one’s needs. Place the personalized certificate in a nice box, wrap it up, and give your gift of loving support.
Examples of holiday ‘aging in place’ gifts:
Blue Ridge ElderCare Advisors is here to help and provides a free initial phone consultation.
Please call 434-465-4508 for any questions or for further information.
According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans aged 65+ fall every year. Having a Care Manager as part of your health care plan for your older loved one can help avoid this common, but avoidable, part of aging.
The following video provides information about common reasons for falls in the elderly and how they can be prevented. Thanks to the Aging Life Care Association for this information which they recently posted in recognition of National Fall Prevention Week (Sept 21-25, 2020). For more information visit: blog.aginglifecare.org/blog/this-fall-prevent-falls-for-your-elder-loved-one/
The Covid-19 pandemic is requiring people, especially the elderly, to make potentially life-and-death decisions, daily. Do I visit my out-of-town family, how do I get there, and even more basic, is it safe to go shopping or to meet someone for lunch today?
For healthcare professionals caring for the elderly, Covid-19 decision-making can be even more complex. Along with the elderly and their families asking for advice on avoiding infection, they want advice on healthcare facilities. Is it safe to go to the hospital, and for what? And maybe most difficult, they want help making informed, objective decisions about long-term care facilities.
Health care professionals have an ethical obligation to use the most current health care science and data. For Covid-19, the primary sources of that information should be local, state and national public healthcare agency websites (.gov sites). Policy and politics aside, all of us have an obligation to actively support the continued objective and unbiased reporting of public healthcare science and data.
There are many types of Covid-19 data and key is data on the local community, since most transmission and infection occurs locally. Local data are often reported by county or zip code and include number of cases and deaths per week, percent of the population testing positive, and whether rates are increasing or decreasing. Health department/agency sites also provide data on long-term and other healthcare facility infection and death rates, including ‘hot spots’.
With the internet, it’s now impossible to review all available information. Instead we must focus our internet searches and avoid relying on social media as a primary source of information. Health departments, in collaboration with larger academic healthcare centers, should be our primary sources. The only way we will make it thru this pandemic and minimize suffering and death will be with objective data, science and expert healthcare guidance. Our lives and those of our loved ones depend on it.
For Virginia Covid-19 information and data, please go to: www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/.
And if not already, please be sure that you or your loved ones still get your flu shots for the 2020-2021 flu season. You can catch both the flu and Covid-19, a potentially deadly combination. For more information, please go to: www.helpadvisor.com/conditions/flu-vaccine-resource-guide