Five tips to help keep visiting elderly relatives safe this Christmas
Have you got elderly relatives coming to stay this Christmas? Follow these five tips to help keep them safe and avoid trips to hospital.
Did you know according to The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, more than 6,000 people will end up in the hospital on Christmas day? Or that, over the Christmas period, over 80,000 people on average visit A&E?
This increase in injuries includes the elderly. The elderly experience more falls due to inclement weather, unfamiliar and unsafe surroundings, as well as burns from stoves and hot water.
To help keep loved ones safe this year, we asked Daniel Westhead, the Managing Director at SureSafe to share how to protect the elderly this festive season and avoid a Christmas trip to the hospital.
1) Arrange furniture and clear walkways
An elderly person (someone aged 80 and above) falls every 10 seconds in the UK, and this number increases during winter months. Luckily there are some easy steps to take to ensure loved ones stay on their feet.
Start by checking furniture arrangement and making sure that there are clear pathways. If there is a Christmas tree in the living room, make sure the cords are tucked away as they are a major tripping hazard. Also, if there are any rugs in the entryway or throughout the house, make sure the corners are flat and they are not bunched up.
2) Make furniture accessible and safe
According to the UKs National Health Service Information System, around 20,000 are hospitalised each year due to falling out of a bed, and 12,000 are due to falling out of a chair. It is essential to make sure furniture is accessible and safe.
Ensure the bed is close to the floor, this can even be done by simply taking it off of the bed frame during guests stay. Also, make sure that shelves storing essentials are at a reachable height for elderly individuals, eliminating the need for them to use a stool, and decreasing the risk of a fall.
3) Ensure staircases and bathrooms are accessible
Up to 80% of falls happen in the bathroom. To prevent this invest in non-slip mats, and where possible install handrails and grab bars. A simple, portable shower chair is an excellent solution if this isn’t possible. Also, make sure stair railings are tightened and can support visitor’s weight.
4) Turn water heaters down and keep a proper climate
250,000 people per year will be burned in the UK. To prevent these injuries on Christmas, turn water heaters down and consider investing in an automatic stove turn-off device. In addition, remember that while a thermostat being set at 20℃ might be typical in a home, an elderly visitor may need it a bit higher to keep them comfortable.
5) Illuminate darkness
To prevent nighttime falls, make sure visitors can get around during the night. There are illuminated light switches to help them find the light, or inexpensive night lights to ensure they can find their way to the bathroom in the dark. Also, make sure pets are secured so they don’t trip visitors!
6) Avoid blinking fairy lights
Flashing fairy lights, while beautiful, can be quite troublesome for the elderly. Their quick flickering and changing brightness can be really uncomfortable or confusing, especially for those who have trouble seeing clearly. The sudden flashing can throw them off balance, making them more prone to falls.
Enjoy time with elderly loved ones and remain proactive when these mistakes are avoided and homes are prepped for visits this season.