Fall Prevention: 5 Steps Toward Senior Health, Happiness, & Independence

Taking comprehensive fall prevention steps is foundational in supporting seniors who want to age in place. Recommending and facilitating these seven fall prevention steps is part of what we do when engaging with prospective clients during their free in-home assessments, and we help them to create these changes once we’re hired.

Falls At Home Compromise Senior Wellbeing & Independence

The CDC reports that falls pose one of the biggest health threats to adults 65 and over and can seriously compromise a senior’s ability to live independently. 

Senior Fall Statistics

The risk of tripping or falling at home increases dramatically every year after age 65, especially if a home hasn’t been made accessible using essential fall prevention steps. These falls significantly impact victims, their spouses, and their families. 

Some alarming statistics about falls and their impacts include the following:

  • In 2020 falls in the senior population (65+) caused 36,000 fatalities, making it the leading cause of injury-related deaths for that age group.
  • Also, in 2020, emergency rooms across the nation reported more than three million (3,000,000) visits due to senior falls.
  • 20% of senior falls (one in five) cause serious injuries like broken bones or traumatic brain injuries.
  • Each year, at least 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for hip injuries. 
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls, typically due to lack of balance or stumbling sideways.

These injuries, hospitalizations, and post-op stays in acute care facilities have a detrimental effect on seniors. They are associated with increased cognitive decline, depression, and lack of will to live.

5 Essential Fall Prevention Steps

The more we can do to prevent senior falls, the better quality of life senior loved ones have. Here are seven steps to lower aging loved ones’ risk of falling.

Make sure they’re exercising regularly

Remaining in good physical shape is one of the best steps seniors can take to minimize their fall risk. Most senior falls are linked to loss of balance, mobility, strength, stamina, or from a home that is not as accessible as it should be. 

By focusing on daily exercises that increase strength, balance, and stamina seniors are less likely to lose their balance and fall or are able to prevent a hard fall. You can also speak to their physician or specialist for exercise recommendations based on their physical and health histories. 

Many seniors enjoy companionship while exercising, so consider exercising with them online, hiring a companion to exercise with them, or ensuring they have access to community senior exercise classes such as yoga, swimming, aerobics, water exercise, dancing classes, etc.

They must be well-nourished

Similarly, falls are more likely to occur when a senior is weak or has low blood sugar. Ensuring they’re adequately nourished also minimizes their risk of falling. Next time you visit, peek into the refrigerator or cupboards. Do things look bare, or is there an out-of-balance proportion between fresh, healthy foods and junky processed options? If so, it’s one of the most evident signs that your loved one needs extra support to age safely and independently at home.

Create a safe and easily accessible living space

In addition to physical or medical issues that cause a fall, most senior falls occur because their living space is no longer safely accessible. We recommend reading the AARP’s detailed instructions on creating a safe environment for aging adults. 

Some of the highlights of a safe, accessible home include:

  • Creating a single-story living space (even if that means transferring to a downstairs bedroom and bathroom)
  • Reorganize cabinets and cupboards so things used most often are the most accessible – without the need to get on a step stool or bend over to retrieve them)
  • De-clutter to minimize trip hazards. 
  • Sufficient lighting in all locations.
  • Reducing any trip hazards (build ramps where there are stairs, eliminate or carefully secure area rugs, re-route any cords or plugs in common walkways, etc.).
  • Install grab bars beside toilets and inside/outside of showers and baths (the bathroom is considered the most dangerous room in the house).
  • Replace flooring with non-slip options that are compatible with mobility aids (more on that below).
  • Ensure adequate room to move around. There should be at least 38-inches of space between objects and a wall, table, cabinet, etc., so a walker or wheelchair can maneuver easily and safely.
  • Weekly wellness checks should be put into place .
  • Consider hiring an in-home care aid to provide light housekeeping, linen changes, grocery shopping or meal preparation, or other chores/tasks that fatigue seniors.

Weekly wellness checks mean a friend, family member, or a professional companion or in-home care provider is checking in regularly to keep an eye on things and upgrade support, assistance or personal care services as needed.

Connect them with the right mobility aid(s)

Like giving up the keys to the car, seniors frequently balk at using mobility aids. This step may require several patient conversations. If your loved one balks at the idea of a cane, walker, or other type of aid, we recommend enlisting support from their general physician or favorite specialist. Their close peers (particularly one who uses mobility support) are another option if they’re willing to speak to your loved one, too.

Sometimes it’s smart to begin with the “we want you to have it available in case you need it…” rather than, “you need it,” so they feel more in control of the decision. Matching the need to the right mobility aid is essential for its success. Most seniors baby step into mobility aids, starting to use one when they’re ill, feeling weak, or recovering from a minor injury or surgery. Or perhaps they use a walking stick on hikes or a walker to maintain their strength and energy on longer outings or errands. 

Schedule assessments from in-home care agencies

It’s always better to be proactive and consult with professionals before you need care than to make a rushed decision due to a crisis. During these assessments, you’ll learn more about all of the home care services available, as well as insights into how to make their current home safer and more accessible.

There are so many ways support from a licensed in-home care agency reduces a senior’s risk of falling:

  • We provide transportation and errand-running support that preserves their energy.
  • Meal planning and preparation so easy-to-heat, healthy, delicious foods and snacks are always at the ready.
  • Exercise companionship
  • Light housekeeping (including replacing burned-out lightbulbs and cabinet organization to keep things accessible) and laundry/linen changes.
  • Help with pet care.
  • And so much more.

Having someone come a couple of times a month, once a week, or to work part- or full-time shifts means your loved one’s needs are always taken care of with complete respect for their privacy, dignity, and desire for autonomy.

Contact HomeAide Home Care For Personalized Fall Prevention Tips

Do you suspect it’s time to make your aging loved one’s home a safer space to age in place? Do you worry that your parent or grandparent will become a fall risk statistic? We are here to help in any way we can. Schedule an assessment with HomeAide Home Care or give us a call at (510) 247-1200 to share your concerns. As a private, licensed home care agency based in the Bay Area, we care for clients all over Alameda and Contra Costa County. We provide expert caregivers and 4-hour service at very affordable rates.

Fire Safety In The Home: Senior Care Tips

The decision to age in place means seniors remain in the communities and homes they love and requires careful planning to ensure they are safe, cared for, and socially engaged. This includes a thoughtful, detailed, and forward-thinking long-term care plan that includes a fire-safe home with clear plans in case there is an emergency.

According to the US Fire Administration, seniors 65 years old and older are twice as likely to be seriously injured or to die as a result of a house fire. This is due to a combination of age-related factors ranging from poor eyesight, diminished hearing, and mobility issues to dementia or confusion that slows the reflexes 

Creating Fire Safety In An Aging Loved One’s Home

Fire prevention is the first and most effective step in creating fire safety for seniors in the home. Here are tips on how to create a fire-safe home and a well-practiced escape plan.

Functioning smoke detectors

Most house fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke detectors, which should be installed in every room where someone sleeps, one in the hallways outside the rooms where people sleep, on each level of the home, etc. Click Here for specific instructions on adequate smoke detector installation.

Ensure there are an adequate number of working smoke detectors. They should be tested every month using the “test” button, and you can schedule the batteries to be changed every six months via homecare services or local charities that offer that service for free. Your local fire department is an excellent resource to get you started and put you in touch with agencies that offer free or very low-cost smoke detector services for seniors.

Use a vibrating or flashing smoke alarm for those hard of hearing

If a loved one sleeps deeply and/or has any level of hearing loss, install a smoke/fire alarm designed for the hearing impaired. These units should be installed near where they spend their time during the day and near the bed so they can sense it vibrating or flashing when activated.

Insist that people smoke outside

Lit cigarettes are a significant cause of house fires and fire-related fatalities. Due to other significant health concerns, quitting smoking is the best way to prevent cigarette-related fires. However, if a loved one does smoke, try to get them to smoke outside the home on a patio or porch, with access to a fire-proof ashtray/cigarette dispenser that’s changed regularly.

Never leave adults with a dementia diagnosis alone in the home

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related condition, they should be monitored 24/7. Leaving burners on or unattended is extremely common and a significant fire hazard. Any seniors diagnosed with dementia of any kind should not be left home unattended. 

That includes the night hours as sleep disruptions are common for all seniors, especially those with dementia, as it alters their circadian rhythm. Night walking is common, and any attempt to make food runs the risk of causing a fire.

Use safe home heating methods

The majority of home fires are caused by electrical heaters that short, spark, or are too close to flammable things that go up in flames. Heating the home safely significantly reduces the chance of a house fire.

Forced air heating is the safest option. If your loved one uses an electric space heater:

  • Make sure it has an auto-shut-off feature in case it tips over.
  • Place them on firm, level surfaces (rather than end table tops, bookshelves, or window sills).
  • Keep anything flammable (rugs, pets, children, fabric, etc. at least three feet away from the heating element.

Agree To Kitchen Use Rules

The leading causes of house fires are electrical heaters and kitchen accidents. Kitchen safety is key to preventing fires.

  • Never leave anything cooking on the stovetop. If you need to leave the room, even for a minute, turn the burner(s) off and then back on again when you return.
  • Use a timer whenever you cook to prevent any chances of falling asleep or losing track of time and forgetting something on the stove or in the oven.
  • Keep flammables (kitchen towels, hot pads, trivets, decor, etc.) away from the stovetop.
  • Keep pot handles away from the edge of the stovetop to prevent them from being knocked over.
  • Maintain clean stovetops and oven interiors to keep leftover food/ingredients from catching fire.

If you worry about your loved one’s ability to cook safely, it might be time to consider outside support for meal planning and preparation.

Make And Practice An Escape Plan

A fire escape plan is essential, and then you must practice it. Remember that in the event of a real fire, panic is likely, making it harder to remember what’s been practiced. We recommend practicing the escape plan multiple times and revisiting it every few months to keep the reactions fresh and more automatic.

An escape plan includes:

  • Making sure all of the home’s doors and windows open easily.
  • Anyone with mobility issues should be assigned an escape buddy designated to assist them at the first sound of an alarm.
  • Keep the home free of trip/fall hazards by creating an accessible and safe home for your loved one to age in place.
  • Practicing over and over again to keep it fresh.

Enlist Support From Homecare Professionals 

You don’t have to go this alone. There are so many details and things to think about when an aging loved one decides to age independently in the comfort of their home. Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. 

We’ll help you create a long-term care plan that includes home safety recommendations and an idea of how scaled services can keep your senior loved one as happy, healthy, and socially engaged as possible. Once our caregivers are in place, they can work with you, your loved one, and other family members (and neighbors) to create a fire-safe escape plan.

Everyday Tasks Pose Challenges For Seniors

everyday tasks pose challenges for seniors

It’s easy to take the completion of everyday tasks for granted. For example, getting up out of bed, making a cup of coffee and breakfast, light housekeeping, running the errands, etc. – and all while being safely mobile all become challenges for seniors. 

As we age, however, these everyday tasks pose challenges. So regardless of whether or not a senior seems perfectly capable and independent, we recommend taking an objective and attuned assessment of how they’re really doing.

7 Everyday Tasks That Become Challenges For Seniors

Don’t assume your mom, dad, or grandparent is “doing just fine!” because they sound great on the phone. It’s a rare senior who lives alone or wants to age in place who doesn’t need some assistance with daily tasks – and the need for support increases with every passing year or the diagnosis of chronic health conditions or memory loss. Seniors frequently tell us they didn’t want to admit they needed help or, most often, they didn’t want to burden their families. 

Your proactive attention and preparation are essential to keeping ahead of the curve. Take an honest look at your aging loved one’s life and see if they could use help with the following daily activities.

Everyday accessibility around the home (age-in-place safely)

Balance, strength, endurance, and mobility depend on overall health and attention to diet and exercise. Even so, age-related weakness, stairways, curbs, or uneven ground make seniors more prone to tripping and falling – a leading cause of senior hospital admissions. 

Proactively creating an accessible household before a near-accident or bonafide injury occurs is a must. You can read our post on how to age in place safely with accessible home designs for details. However, the most critical points are:

  • Declutter
  • Invest in ramps if stairs are required to access the home
  • Install grab bars near toilet and shower areas (towel racks are NOT stable)
  • Relocate main bedroom/bath to downstairs if possible
  • Install an electric rise chair if stairs are a necessity in the home
  • Minimize slip/trip hazards
  • Provide adequate exterior/interior lighting using motion-sensitive sensors
  • Reorganize most-used items, so they’re accessible without the need for a stepladder or bending over

Creating an environment where seniors age in place safely conserves their energy and minimizes injury risk.

General mobility

Is a parent or grandparent looking more unsteady than before? Are they apt to hold onto rails or use the walls to steady themselves? Are they having difficulty getting into or out of chairs without lurching or using chair/couch arms or nearby tables for stability? These are all signs a senior is ready for the right type of mobility aid.

Driving and running errands

When’s the last time you returned from running errands – including grocery shopping – and felt energized and refreshed? Those must-haves are exhausting, and fatigue increases as stamina decrease. Then, the reality is that the ability to drive safely diminishes with age – especially after 75 to 80. 

Diminishing eyesight, hearing, and slower reflexes are partially to blame when it comes to challenges for seniors. Then there are the potential side effects of health issues or medications that make the brain fuzzy. Finally, Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related memory loss make it easier to become confused. The first step is convincing seniors to restrict driving to daylight hours or short, familiar routes. After that, transportation services that include support with driving and running errands are essential.

Healthy meal and snack preparation

The same decreases in energy that make it difficult for seniors to keep up on daily tasks, errands, and grocery shopping make it hard to prepare healthy meals and snacks. As a result, most seniors rely on very simple processed foods that aren’t good for them or go directly opposite to their physician-recommend dietary restrictions. In fact, seniors are at one of the highest risks for malnourishment in our nation, regardless of their socio-demographic.

Noticing that a senior loved one’s cupboards are bare is one of the first signs they need support to remain at home. There are plenty of options to support this cause, including part-time in-home caregivers who do the shopping and create delicious and nutritious snacks that are easy to reheat or tasty eaten cold. Our caregivers also make sure expired or rotting foods are discarded, so everything is fresh.

Keeping the house clean and tidy

Decreased energy and vision loss makes it harder to keep a clean and organized home. Most seniors 70 years or older benefit from professional weekly housecleaning, including laundry and linen changes. If you work with a senior home care agency, weekly cleans are a great place to start – especially if your loved one resists the idea of professional caregiving.

Instead of hiring a professional cleaner, hire a licensed home care agency. Our caregivers can come once or multiple times per week to perform light housekeeping duties. As clients adjust, we can add grocery/errand running or meal prep. These services also provide a barometer for you as they notice other “red flags” indicating that more support is needed.

Getting out of the house for social and physical activity

Getting out of the house is trickier when seniors are chair- or homebound. Every study supports senior social engagement, which is proven to benefit mood and physical health and slow down the decline of memory loss.

Finding a way to get your senior back into their social groove – including attending community events, their regularly scheduled club/organization meetings, hobby groups, etc., is essential for their wellbeing. Start with your local community resources for seniors. If they aren’t the right fit, look into companion services, which provide a regular source of social connection and transportation services to get seniors where they want to go.

Personal care (including medication) can be added to the list of challenges for seniors

Seniors with memory loss, physical discomfort, or lower energy resources begin to let go of personal care and hygiene. They stay in pajamas all day – often the same set for days in a row. They don’t bathe/shower as often, eat at regular meal times, or take a daily walk. As a result, they stagnate, which is often the sign of a rapid downward spiral in terms of their well-being.

Professional senior caregivers ensure your loved one is clean, fresh, and ready to start each day. We provide important medication reminders and ensure their medication dispensers are organized correctly. Just a shift or two a week is a great way to help seniors remain motivated and engaged in the world around them. This also creates an opening to add more services when they see the improvement in their quality of life. And, many seniors report that the increased activity levels and social stimulation help them to sleep better at night – which has a cumulatively positive effect.

Schedule A Free Assessment To Identify Current Challenges For Your Loved One

HomeAide Home Care provides free, no-obligation assessments to identify the current or immediate challenges for seniors throughout the Bay Area. Contact us to schedule a consultation at (510) 247-1200. Our experienced, compassionate, and objective observations help seniors, and their families create long-term care plans to support aging-in-place safely and with a high quality of life.

How Hiring A Caregiving Agency Can Improve A Seniors Life In A Facility

how hiring a caregiving agency can improve a seniors life in a facility

When it comes to hiring a caregiving agency or having a loved one transition into a facility, most people consider it an either-or proposition. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Spouses or family members frequently hire a caregiving agency to improve the quality of life and general wellbeing when their loved ones are in a facility.

Considering Hiring A Caregiving Agency For An Elderly Loved One Living In A Facility?

Regardless of the quality of a facility, there is no way that they can attend to each individual on a personal level the way they advertise. In our experience, most facilities – be they skilled nursing facilities or assisted living communities – do their very best. However, nothing compares with the personalized and attentive care provided by professional home care aides. 

Whether your loved one will be staying in a part-time skilled nursing care facility to recover from a surgery, hospital stay, or extended illness – or your loved one has recently transitioned from living at home to a facility – we recommend hiring a caregiver to ensure the client receives the best care possible.

5 Reasons A Caregiver Benefits A Senior Living In A Facility

Here are five benefits your loved one receives when paired with a caregiver of their own while living in an assisted living facility or residential care situation:

Companionship that’s all about your loved one

Did you know companionship services are the foundation of most caregiver/client relationships? Hiring a caregiver as a companion means your loved one has a person wholly dedicated to keeping them company. Based on your loved one’s interests, our companions spend one-on-one time doing all kinds of things:

  • Reading together
  • Watching shows
  • Playing games/cards
  • Listening to music
  • Singing
  • Dancing
  • Taking walks
  • Eating meals
  • Looking at photo albums, family movies, and memorabilia – and listening to the stories that go along with them
  • Going on outings
  • And more

Knowing their companion is coming on specific days can means your loved one has something to look forward to beyond the normal day-to-day activities geared to the median.

Food beyond the institution

One of the biggest complaints we hear from clients living in facilities is the lack of food variety. Even if the food is good, the variation and availability of choice are limited. This can become frustrating. The good news is that our meal preparation and planning services can be used to support your loved one living elsewhere. We can bring them homecooked meals, based on their dietary guidelines. Best of all, they can choose the menu, which means they’ll eat with more enthusiasm.

And, of course, as long as they are physically able our caregivers can also take them to their favorite restaurants or bring meals in from their favorite places. 

Get out and about in the community

If your loved one is able, our caregivers can take them out into the community. As mentioned above, this can be something as simple as enjoying a meal together at a favorite restaurant. However, we can also take them to the park, to a movie, or to attend their regularly scheduled religious services or social engagements. 

If your loved one is bedbound, we can use their computer, tablet, or television to connect them with religious services that are broadcast online. This may seem like a small thing, but you’d be amazed at how much joy our clients get when they are able to remain connected and engaged with their communities, despite the fact they no longer live at home. In many cases, our services and ability to keep seniors connected with their sense of self is the difference between sinking into a depression and finding meaning and purpose in life.

Eliminate the risk of elder abuse

Again, we want to say that most facilities we’ve worked in do their best to care for their residents. However, there is no doubt that the less connected a senior is to his/her family or network, the higher the risk of elder abuse. Predatory employees look for residents who don’t have visitors or whose families largely ignore them. 

Some of the risk factors for elder abuse include:

  • Isolation from friends, family, or a support network;
  • Under-staffing, staff burnout, and stressful working conditions
  • Current and untreated mental illness – especially dementia

If you live out of town or across the country, using a caregiver for assisted living or other residential facilities protects your loved one. Anyone who would consider taking advantage of their vulnerability will give up the cause because they know the senior is being looked out for.

 Hiring a caregiving agency can help keep them physically active and fit

If you’ve visited your loved one recently, odds are you’ve seen lots of sedentary people. While many facilities offer exercise programs, they can’t make their residents take advantage of them. When you combine situations such as depression, lack of activities your loved one is interested in, lethargy from a poor diet (see #2), or general feelings of loneliness, you often see a sedentary lifestyle.

Our caregivers are there to get your loved one out of that rut. Have a bed/chair bound senior? That’s not a problem, our caregivers are happy to lead them and participate in exercises they can do in their rooms or outside in their wheelchair on a beautiful day. If they are physically able, our caregivers can pick them up and take them to their favorite senior yoga or water exercise class, not to mention walks in the park, accessible hikes, or “field trips” to places they love to go. All of this keeps loved ones far more mobile and physically active than they would be otherwise.

HomeAide Home Care Is For Seniors In Facilities

The dedicated staff at HomeAide Home Care provides companionship services both in the home and in a facility. We guarantee your loved one’s quality of life will exponentially improve when you hire us to provide companionship, inspiration, and fun. Contact us to schedule an assessment and learn more about how our services improve the lives of our clients.

Helping Seniors Find The Right Type Of Mobility Support

helping seniors find the right type of mobility support

Loss of strength, balance, and mobility are common age-related progressions, especially if seniors have underlying medical conditions. Finding the correct mobility support allows seniors to age more independently while prioritizing their health, safety, and wellbeing. Plus, once they get used to the extra help, senior mobility support helps them connect and engage with their community.

Proactive Mobility Support Prevents Injuries

First and foremost, seniors with the proper mobility support are less prone to accidents, which are a leading cause of hospitalization and surgeries in the 65+ community. And, there is a lot more to it than picking out a cane, walker, or wheelchair.

The more proactive you are at having options for mobility support handy and normalizing them, the more likely a loved one is to start using them.

Grab Bars, Shower Chairs, And Railings

Did you know the bathroom is considered the most dangerous room in the home? How often have you reached out to grab a towel bar in a bathroom due to fatigue, loss of balance, or illness-related weakness (a recipe for a fall since towel bars are not stable or anchored in wall studs)? We feel that accessible home design should be a building standard rather than something we have to design or augment at a certain stage of life.

One of the best ways you can optimize mobility in the home is to make it as accessible as possible, paying careful attention to the most common slip/fall areas: near the toilet, in the shower, up the stairs, along walkways, or inclines. Our post, Making a Senior Friendly Home, has invaluable tips on how to make a home more accessible, safe, and mobile for seniors. Tips include:

  • Updating indoor and outdoor lighting for motion/light sensors to optimize visibility
  • Installing grab bars near the toilet, bath/shower, etc.
  • Using a shower chair to minimize slip/fall risk in the bath and shower
  • Reducing trip hazards
  • Installing or reinforcing railings at all entry/exits and stairs/ramps
  • Building a ramp if stairs are required at main entrances

Making these changes keeps seniors safer in their own homes.

Schedule A Doctor’s Appointment

Some seniors are eager to embrace mobility support because they have experienced a scare or watched a peer suffer from a fall accident. Others have difficulty acknowledging they need help (sort of like the “handing in the keys” conversation). Bringing in an expert third party, such as your loved ones’ physician, may be the best launchpad for embarking on mobility conversations.

After a conversation and evaluating any mobility risks, learning more about which daily tasks are becoming riskier or more difficult, the physician typically issues a referral to an occupational therapist (OT). The OT will perform an initial assessment to begin. Their offices are already equipped with mobility support options that can be tried out, one by one, as you figure out which is the best option. 

Most seniors benefit from multiple options such as a cane to walk short distances in public, and a walker with a seat that can be used around the house for longer outings or times when a senior feels more tired or weak.

Mobility Support Requires Practice, Trial, And Error

Mobility supports come in all forms. Some have a single point of contact at the bottom, and others have a four-pronged end for greater stability. Some have wheels and also support walking, others are seated only. Most people are unaware that it takes practice to walk with a cane. The same is true for walkers and wheelchairs. 

This is why occupational therapists are such an integral part of the process. A senior who isn’t properly trained and who doesn’t have the space to practice and try different options is more likely to feel frustrated. Unfortunately, that means they don’t get the support they need. 

The most common forms of mobility support and their uses are:


Canes provide stability while standing or walking. Different canes have different grips and stabilizers at the bottom. The more unstable a person is on their feet, the more stable the base should be. Canes are recommended most often for those who have:


Today’s walkers are typically equipped with handbrakes, a seat, or even a basket, making them a universally helpful tool. In addition to stability while standing (in the locked position) or walking, walkers also provide a place for seniors to rest, scoot around, or transport things from one area to another.

Walkers are recommended for:

  • Arthritis pain in the knees and hips is more severe.
  • Moderate to severe balance problems or more serious issues with gait.
  • More generalized weakness in the knees, hips or legs.

We recommend clients have both a cane and a walker in most cases. Even if they don’t use the walker much, it’s good to have it on hand in case you need it, and they fold up easily when not in use.


Wheelchairs are never a bad idea to have on hand because anyone can be injured or fatigued to the point they need a bit more assistance getting around. They accommodate the most debilitating of weakness, fatigue, balance issues, or injuries. Today’s wheelchairs are light, compact, and easily folded to store in and out of a car trunk, behind a door, or in a closet.

Let HomeAide Home Care Help With Age-Related Support Needs

Mobility issues or any changes that inhibit a senior’s ability to accomplish day-to-day tasks are red flags that more support is neededHomeAide Home Care has spent the past few decades helping seniors age independently at home, using the compassionate support of our licensed caregivers. Contact us to schedule a consultation, and we can provide meaningful feedback to help you find the right type of mobility support for your loved one.

Guns And Dementia: Keeping Seniors Safe

guns and dementia keeping seniors safe

Typically, senior safety concerns around dementia include things like taking away the keys, making a home safer and more accessible and ensuring qualified adults are keeping a caring watch 24/7.

However, a recent NPR feature reminds us there’s another safety issue to consider – guns and dementia.

Does your senior loved one own a gun?

According to NPR, researchers estimate that more than half of seniors 65-years and older either own a gun, or live in a home with a gun. Over the next 20 years, the Alzheimer’s Association expects about 14 million of those seniors to have a dementia diagnosis.

Those with dementia are more prone to firing a gun because:

  • They become angry, violent or more agitated quickly
  • They can mistake loved ones as strangers and “defend” the house
  • They may not really be aware of what they’re doing an accidentally fire a gun they’re cleaning, holding or trying to handle responsibly
  • They may use a gun as a toy and accidentally fire it

Guns and dementia safety tips

It’s critical that families and caregivers prioritize gun safety and the safety of everyone involved.

Consider removing guns completely

The best and most guaranteed method for preventing gun violence is to remove the guns from the home completely. Have a conversation with the family first. If it feels like your senior loved one will notice the absence of the gun/s and be upset, then you’ll need to have a conversation with him/her as well.

If the family supports removing the gun, or a trusted authority feels clear it’s a safety issue, but your loved one is completely opposed, you may need to remove the firearms against his/her will. Experts recommend this is done when s/he is out of the home to make it as easy and safe as possible.

Understand that locking or disabling a gun(s) may not work

According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

“People living with dementia sometimes misperceive danger and may do whatever seems necessary to protect themselves, even if no threat exists. These actions can include breaking into gun cabinets, finding ammunition and loading guns. Preventing a gun from firing may not prevent the person living with the disease or others from being harmed.”

You must take notable safety measures if you choose to live in a home where there are guns and dementia, Alzheimer’s or other conditions causing cognitive decline.

Use a high-quality combination lock on cabinet or safe

If getting rid of the guns isn’t an option, use a gun cabinet or safe that requires a combination lock. If one is already in use, change the combination and only give it to those who understand the risk, are familiar with guns and gun safety and who promise they will not ever allow the individual with dementia to access the cabinet or the guns.

Speak about who inherits what now – and pass them on

If the guns weren’t included specifically in a will or trust, this can be a good opportunity to determine who will inherit what from the gun/firearms collection and pass them on now. If your loved one is still doing well, this can be a very special way to honor the collection and those who receive it, and it can make the transition easier on your loved one.

Enlist the help of law enforcement

If your loved one was the gun expert, and nobody else is familiar with guns and gun safety, enlist the help of local safety officers to unload the cabinet, ensure the guns aren’t loaded, to lock/disarm them, dispose of ammunition, etc., so nobody is harmed in the process.

Familiarize yourself with local/state gun laws

If nobody wants the guns, enlist help from a hunting friend or someone knowledgeable about guns and firearms before selling or giving them away to ensure you do so in compliance with the law.

Honor their feelings about having to say goodbye

For someone who values their guns and the role they’ve played in the person’s life, getting rid of them is another major loss of self and independence. These are valid feelings and they deserve to be honored and spoken to. It’s important to address this understandable anger or grief, and then work to re-direct the feelings in a positive and productive way because ultimately guns and dementia don’t mix.

HomeAide Home Care has provided licensed and expert care for seniors since 1998. In the past two decades, we have provided compassionate assistance to individuals, couples and families around the Bay Area. Our companion and in-home services can help keep your senior loved one safe and sound in the comfort of his/her home. Contact us to learn more.

Protecting Seniors From Financial Abuse

protecting seniors from financial abuse

According to the American Banking Association, seniors control more than 70% of the nation’s wealth. Unfortunately, that statistic combined with the vulnerabilities inherent in the aging process (living alone, cognitive decline, inability to hear/understand things clearly, etc.), make the senior population particularly vulnerable to financial abuse.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to prevent this insidious form of elder abuse, to keep precious seniors and their financial assets safe, and protecting seniors from criminals.

Tips For Protecting Seniors Finances

Have conversations about finances, future plans, and financial fraud

For many households, the subject of finances is considered private or taboo. Unfortunately, keeping this subject in the dark makes it easier for senior financial abuse to take place without anyone being the wiser until it’s too late.

If you’re comfortable, have a family meeting with senior loved ones and broach this subject honestly and directly. Reviewing something like Investopedia’s 10 Tips to Avoid Common Financial Scams, is a general and safe place to start.

Since isolation and cognitive decline (dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.) make seniors more vulnerable, check in regularly or help out with tracing bill payments and pay attention to any “new” friends or companions that seem suspicious.

You can also read, Difficult Topics with Family Members, for tips on protecting seniors and addressing the spectrum of things that come up as our loved one’s age.

Provide financial planners and brokers with a trusted contact

The bulk of many seniors’ retirement accounts and financial assets are held or monitored by their financial planners or brokers. That’s why the new Finra rule, requiring brokers to get the name of a “trusted contact” is a smart move and one that should help to stop financial elder abuse – or at least red flag it – before it has dramatic consequences.

This law ensures that any unusual or dramatic financial moves made by a client (either a fraud acting as the client OR the client acting in compliance with a financial criminal) are brought to the attention of the “trusted contact” for evaluation and assessment.

Make sure all of your senior’s accounts have a “trusted contact” named on them to protect their interests.

Never provide SS# or sensitive information over the phone or online

There is only one time where seniors can provide their SS# or sensitive, financial information over the phone – if THEY initiated the call. If anyone ever calls and asks for that type of information over the phone, regardless of how credible the caller seems, the senior should politely hang up and then call their bank, credit card company (or whichever company said they called) to speak to a representative and verify the information requested originated from them, and not a fraud.

Have seniors choose a power of attorney

Having a Power of Attorney (POA) in place is an immediate advantage if you suspect or detect financial abuse has occurred. POAs are also helpful for communicating with your parent’s doctor or scenarios where medical directives need to be implemented.

Take advantage of free credit checks

Free credit checks are available annually (freecreditcheck.com) as well as through most banking and credit card agencies. Take advantage of this easy opportunity to see if any unusual or unfamiliar activity has taken place so it can be addressed.

Trust your instincts and verify information from trusted loved ones

Some of the most successful scams out there rely on tugging on heartstrings (a grandson in jail requiring bail or a favorite niece needing money because she’s stranded on a vacation) and wiring money that becomes untraceable. For this reason, seniors should always trust their instincts and tell the caller they need to verify information – asking them for a return number. In real life, this is reasonable; in fraud life, they’ll be told it isn’t possible to call them back or the caller will become high-pressure or belligerent – all signs the caller is a criminal.

By taking a moment to verify facts and check in with a trusted family member, elders are less likely to be taken advantage of.

Never hire unlicensed home care aids or agencies

Unfortunately, financial abuse is most likely to come from those who have close contact and proximity with a vulnerable senior. Only hire licensed caregivers and agencies, preferably working for a licensed, experienced, reputable agency. Make sure they have passed background checks and check in regularly so you’re able to suss out if anything unusual or suspicious is going on.

Warning Signs Of Financial Fraud Against Seniors

Some of the warning signs seniors are being abused financially or are at higher risk of becoming victims of financial fraud include:

  • Mental or financial frailty (this puts them at major risk)
  • Living alone
  • A relative or new friend appears out of the woodwork and is suspiciously invested in taking care of or spending time with your loved one.
  • Increased mail or calls requesting donations for organizations you’re not familiar with or have never heard them speak about in the past (can indicate they’ve donated money and are now on a shared list)
  • Their bank account is overdrawn and/or credit cards are maxed out for no obvious reason

Any one of these is cause for alarm and for further investigation.

Worried your loved one may be vulnerable or lacks the cognitive ability to manage his/her own finances and daily responsibilities? HomeAide Home Care is a licensed, homecare agency, specializing in protecting seniors and keeping them in the comfort of their home. Contact us for a free, in-home consultation and we’ll help you create a safe and secure long-term plan for your loved one.

Seniors Should Have Fun In The Sun…Safely

seniors should have fun in the sun safely

As seniors age, lifestyles can become more sedentary and this isn’t good for the body or the brain. Getting outside and having fun in the sun is a healthy way for seniors to be active, enjoy natural daylighting to keep their circadian rhythm in sync, and to get a natural dose of vitamin D.

5 Safety Tips To Enjoy Outdoor Life With Senior Loved Ones

That being said, a few safety tips are worth noting to prevent heat stress, sunburn, dehydration and other scenarios that take the fun right out of the sun if you’re not careful.

Keep indoors during peak sun time

The UV rays are strongest between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. In general, it’s best to be outdoors before or after those hours to minimize the risk of sunburn or heat-related illness. If your area tends to be hotter in the later afternoon, it’s worth it to stay indoors until things cool off a bit.

If it’s too difficult to get outside during heatwaves, open the blinds and shades a bit to fill living spaces with natural light (important for keeping circadian rhythms in sync and to improve nighttime sleep habits) and create an indoor exercise routine that recreates the same level of physical activity would have experienced if you were outdoors.

Use sun protection

When you do spend time outside, try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. It only takes about 10 minutes or so of direct natural sunlight to catalyze Vitamin D synthesis. This is easy to achieve – even in dappled shade. So, as much as possible – use sun protection in the form of:

  • Avoiding peak sun hours
  • Hats
  • Full-coverage sunglasses to protect the eyes
  • Loose, light-colored, light-material long-sleeve shirts and pants
  • Sunscreen (being careful to avoid allergic reactions on seniors’ sensitive skin)
  • Keeping mostly to covered and shaded area

Sun protection minimizes the chances of heatstroke and also reduces the risk of dehydration so you are able to have fun in the sun.

Bring plenty of water or other chilled beverages

Seniors are particularly prone to dehydration for multiple reasons, including medication side effects as well as decreased thirst signaling from the brain. Bring plenty of cool water (including a slice of lemon, cucumber and/or mint makes it more appealing) or another favorite, chilled beverage to have on hand. Encourage occasional sips to prevent the risk of dehydration. Read our post, Encouraging Fluids… for tips on that topic.

Keep a first-aid kit handy

Our skin becomes thin once we’re older, and certain prescription medications and health conditions also contribute to thinning or more sensitive skin. As a result, seniors are particularly prone to cuts, scrapes, and bruises from direct contact objects that wouldn’t have any negative effect on you or a younger caregiver or companion.

Even a small first-aid kit will ensure you have what you need if an arm scrapes against the side of a fence, or the back of a hand is cut while smelling the neighbor’s roses. Keep a few Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, and a small packet of anti-bacterial ointment in your backpack or small purse. You can purchase small-ready made first-aid kits at most drugstores or online.

Know the signs of heat illness

Seniors are less likely to show signs of heat illness until it’s too late because they are more immune to the symptoms of overheating or may not sweat as profusely. Any sign of heat illness means you should get the senior indoors, in a cool space and assess the situation. If you aren’t sure how severe it is, call 9-1-1 or drive him/her immediately to urgent care for professional medical evaluation.

Signs of heat illness include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps

More severe heat illness leads to:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Lack of sweat
  • Chills

Fun In The Sun Is Possible

Again, avoiding the hottest times of the day, using adequate sun protection and keeping seniors hydrated is the best way to eliminate the risk of heat illness.

Are you afraid your senior loved one spends too much time indoors, and not enough time having fun in the sun? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care and schedule a free consultation. Our companion and home care aides are happy to come by as little or as much as you like to accompany your loved one outdoors, on walks or to favorite outings – while ensuring they’re kept safe, hydrated and well-nourished.

Encouraging Fluids To Prevent Dehydration

encouraging fluids to prevent dehydration

Prevent dehydration by encouraging fluid intake and finding delicious water-only alternatives is a great way to give a little extra TLC to senior loved ones in your life. Senior dehydration is a common health issue, particularly during the summer months when hotter temperatures lead to more sweating and moisture loss. And heat-related illnesses and fatalities are most likely to occur for those 65-years and older.

Dehydration is also one of the top reasons seniors are admitted to the hospital each year and can contribute to urinary tract infections, which are often asymptomatic in the senior population and can show up with dementia-like symptoms that are worrisome for all involved.

Prevent Dehydration In Seniors

In addition to sedentary lifestyles or conditions like dementia, which trick the body’s natural “thirst” urges, many of the medications taken by seniors compound the issue.

Additional reasons seniors are more prone to dehydration include:

  • The older we get, the ability for our bodies to recognize heat changes diminishes
  • Certain health conditions, including the inability to communicate or incontinence, lead to more severe dehydration
  • Body water content decreases with age
  • Elderly individuals seem to experience diminished thirst, even though they may need even more water than when they were younger
  • Underlying health conditions can make seniors less heat tolerant

The more you can do to get seniors to intake fluids, the better off they will be.

Tips For Getting Seniors To Consume More Fluids

Loved ones and caregivers should use some of the following tips to increase fluid intake and prevent dehydration for their senior loved ones.

Address any existing incontinence issues

Seniors struggling to acknowledge incontinence issues may intentionally avoid drinking in order to avoid embarrassing accidents. Adult disposable underwear/briefs have come a long way in the past couple of decades and can’t be detected underneath clothing. Have a courageous conversation and purchase a few sample products to help your loved one find the adult disposable underwear that is the most comfortable for him/her. The ability to remain confident about toileting makes it possible to drink without fear or embarrassment.

Use a timer app on your smartphone or gadget

Use the timer app on a smartphone or gadget, set to go off at particular intervals during the day – perhaps every 30-minutes to an hour. When the timer goes off, it’s time to sip some water, drink a cup of tea or enjoy a smoothie or a glass of sparkling juice.

NOTE: Smoothies are easy to make (Ensures are good too) and, in addition to providing hydration, they also provide loads of healthy vitamins and minerals for seniors who don’t have an appetite or who eat on the lighter side.

Prevent dehydration with delicious drink options readily available

For some of us, water is manna from heaven when we’re thirsty – but that’s not the case for all. Keep plenty of drink options on hand so you can offer something appealing. And, don’t forget that a wedge of lemon or lime, a slice or two of cucumber, a small chunk of watermelon or a sprig of fresh mint can add a nice pop to a plain glass of ice water.

Other examples include:

  • Sparkling water (both plain and flavored)
  • Flavored Iced Teas (decaffeinated if caffeine is a no-no)
  • Chocolate milk (with fat content selected depending on the senior’s recommended diet)
  • Fresh fruit juice (add sparkling water to make a healthy version of a flavored soda)
  • Sports drinks (use in moderation to minimize sugar intake)

Read, Holiday Inspired Mocktails and Cocktails for more ideas to serve delicious, non-alcoholic drinks that are cool and refreshing.

Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Fluids come in all different forms, not just in a glass but also in fruits and vegetables. Fruit popsicles are so delicious and appealing in the summer months, especially for seniors who take medications known to cause dry mouth or persistent thirst. On the flip side, seniors who prefer savory to sweet may appreciate sipping a cup of broth – veggie, beef or chicken – which also offers protein and nutrients.

Have beverages at the ready

The to-go cup market has made it easier than ever for seniors and their caregivers to have insulated hot and/or cold beverages at the ready. Better yet, with the “sippy cup” and straw options most of these cups utilize, the cups also minimize spills and make it easier for seniors to sip.

Put them around the house – on the nightstand by the bed, on the side table next to a favorite chair or couch spot, on the kitchen table, loaded and ready to go in the fridge, etc. The more accessible the beverages are, the more likely seniors are to sip regularly, without the hassle of needing to get up or prepare anything.

Experiment with temperatures

Finally, sensitivity to cold and hot beverages changes with age. You may find iced beverages are too cold for comfort or that hot beverages need to cool for longer than they used to in order for your loved one to find drinks palatable. Room temperature beverages may now be a preference. Experiment with a variety of beverages at different temperatures (maybe even warming fruit juice a bit!) to see if that makes seniors more eager to drink.

Worried about a senior loved one who lives alone and may not be able to take of him/herself as well as s/he used to? Contact HomeAide Home Care to schedule a free consultation. Even something as simple as a regular check-in from one of our licensed home care aides can ensure your loved one has access to plenty of tasty fluids as well as nourishing foods on hand in order to prevent dehydration.

How to Convince a Senior to Give Up Driving

how to convince a senior to give up driving

Relinquishing the car keys is understandably one of the hardest things a senior ever has to do. It is at once an acknowledgment and acceptance that life is no longer the same, and that an individual no longer has complete control over his/her life.

As hard as the decision may be, it is ultimately better to come to an agreement with a senior that it’s time to give up driving than it is for them to have an accident that forces the hand for them – often at the expense of their own/others’ welfare.

5 Strategies for Convincing a Senior it’s Time to Give Up Driving

Over the many years we’ve worked with seniors and their caregivers and/or families, we’ve learned a handful of strategies that can ease the challenging transition from “driver to passenger.”

Keep a discreet list of your concerns

First and foremost, it’s important to be clear about why you think it’s time for a senior to put down their keys for good. Age, alone, is not a good reason to stop driving, so you’ll need to calmly and rationally explain your concerns. Take drives with them along their normal trajectory and keep a discreet list of things you notice or that worried you. This will help to direct the conversation and give you concrete points to address – and for the senior to ponder.

Enlist the help of their primary care provider(s)

If you don’t have a relationship with your elderly parents or loved one’s doctor, now’s the time to establish one. Based on vision tests, medical diagnoses and general observations, your doctor’s wise input can be a tremendous asset when it comes to the driving discussion. This step is particularly poignant if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, a diagnosis which should automatically trigger a no-driving lifestyle.

In almost all cases, seniors know deep down it’s time to give up driving, but they are understandably reluctant and may err on the side of defensive and combative when the topic is brought up by a loved one. However, seniors may take the information/recommendations much more graciously when it’s presented by their trusted healthcare provider, and backed up by black-and-white facts and statistics.

Read, Communicating with Your Elderly Parent’s Doctor, for more information.

Schedule an eye exam ASAP

Is it the senior’s vision that’s causing the most concern? For a while, prescription lenses will be enough. However, conditions like macular degeneration or cataracts will progress to a point where even glasses aren’t enough to pass the DMV’s eye exam.

Optimized vision is crucial for an independent lifestyle so seniors should already be prioritizing bi-annual exams with their optometrist. If you feel their vision is impeding their driving, or they’ve recently been involved in an accident, let the optometrist know and s/he can have an equally compelling conversation with your senior loved one about driving privileges.

Create alternative transportation options

Sure, giving up the keys means sacrificing autonomy. However, more importantly, it translates to a loss of social contact and the ability to get around where you want, when you want. Your loved one may take your concerns and advice to heart if they know there are alternative transportation options in place.

Examples include things like:

  • Rides from family/friends attending similar events
  • Volunteer drivers from local churches, religious communities, senior centers, etc.
  • Using Uber or Lyft
  • Public transportation, which offers affordable senior rates
  • Senior-specific Public transportation options

This may also be a good time to get in contact with a licensed home care agency to schedule a free assessment. Home care providers always offer transportation and/or errand running as a service option. Creating a relationship now – when rides are the only thing required – makes it easier to increase support as needed down the road, adding services like companion services, meal preparation, housekeeping, and so on.

Treat the subject with respect, and expect it to take time

Unless the senior is very accepting or is so concerned him/herself that your conversation comes as a relief – you will be met with resistance. You may also be greeted with a very strong emotional response when confronted with the idea to give up driving, whether anger, sadness, grief, frustration, or all of the above.

For that reason, treat the subject (and your loved one) with the respect it deserves. Honor how difficult this is and how hard it would be for you to be in the reverse position. Remain calm and put a pause on the conversation if it gets heated, agreeing to come back to it at a scheduled time in the very near future.

Are you interested in working with a senior home care agency that offers driving and errand running services? Contact the team here at HomeAide Home Care to schedule a consultation or learn more about our senior-specific services.