When grandma and grandpa come over, it’s always a treat. Your child’s grandparents can be some of the most important people in their life. About 15% of people in the U.S. are seniors, so chances are you have an elderly relative or parent in your life. But as people age, it becomes easier for small things to cause big problems. Falls, for instance, can be devasting for seniors. Keep the older people in your life safe with these tips for grandma-proofing so everyone stays safe when grandma and grandpa make an appearance.
As people age, joints, muscles, and bones grow weaker. This is why your 7-year-old can fall down and walk away just fine but your 75-year-old parent can break a hip taking a tumble out of bed. Hip and other bone injuries sustained from falls are common in older people and can be devastating to deal with. Even a dislocated hip is incredibly painful and can cause a break. Although broken bones heal fine when you’re young or even middle-aged, for older people they can cause arthritis, an autoimmune disorder 43 million Americans suffer from.
To prevent hip and other fall injuries, make sure staircases are kept clear at all times and that there are sturdy handrailings in place. If your loved one has difficulty reaching cabinets or other storage, buy a good, sturdy stepstool for them. If your parent or relative is unsteady, have someone else reach what’s needed. Make sure transitions between flooring are easily traversable to prevent tripping and ensure toys, rugs, pillows, shoes, and other objects are kept out of main walkways and pathways. Finally, make sure rugs are secured with non-slip backing or another alternative. Falls are the number one cause of accidents in public places like restaurants and public buildings already, so make sure your home is a safer place to be.
2. Cooking Injuries
While your mom’s famous cookies might come from a delicious secret recipe, it’s no secret how dangerous cooking can be. Burns, cuts, and food poisoning are only a few dangers of the kitchen. However, the kitchen might not be the only place you can encounter these injuries. Curling irons, curlers, and straighteners all generate heat and can pose a burn risk to older people. Similarly, knives aren’t the only sharp implements in your home. Make sure other sharp objects are safely stored away or have dulled edges. Burns and cuts, while generally not as bad as broken bones, can be tough to recover from at older ages and can become infected more easily. Usually, these injuries are caused by forgetfulness or dementia but muscle weakness, unsteadiness, and other factors can also contribute.
To prevent these injuries, spend time in the kitchen with your elderly relative and offer to help with tasks like hair styling and nail trimming. Encourage kids who are old enough to do so to help older relatives in the kitchen. Above all, if you think someone may have dementia, Alzheimer’s, or is incapable of cooking safely, take steps to ensure their safety both at your home and at theirs.
3. Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains may not seem as serious as breaks but these injuries can be difficult for elderly people to recover from and can lead to other issues. Common sprains include wrists, shoulders, knees, and ankles. Ankle and other joint injuries can take anywhere from 10 days to several months to heal and can contribute to arthritis. They can also lead to muscle weakness and instability which can cause falls and other injuries.
To prevent sprains or strains, you can take similar precautions to prevent falls. However, you should make sure elderly relatives aren’t moving heavy objects or performing strenuous activities. Make sure kids know not to be rough and that they understand what their grandparents or other elderly relatives can and cannot do. Even the most active senior is still at risk for injuries, so be careful and mindful.
Even small injuries can be problematic for the grandmas and grandpas in your life. Make sure your home is grandma-proof so everyone stays happy and healthy.