Just over 50 years ago, only 17 million Americans had reached the age 65. In 2011, that number increased to an average of 78.7 years. And as our life expectancy increases, so too does our appreciation for older adults and their contributions to our society.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy declared May “Senior Citizens Month.” In 1980, President Jimmy Carter designated the month “Older Americans Month,” which we continue to observe across the country today through ceremonies, events, and other celebrations.
Older Americans Month is a time to acknowledge the contributions of older adults. The 2014 theme is “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.”
Unintentional injuries among older adults result in at least 6 million medically treated injuries and more than 30,000 deaths every year. By focusing on injury prevention and safety, older adults can take control of their health and remain active and independent.
To help you practice safety this month, we share a few safety reminders from the Administration for Community Living (ACL):
1. Better Manage Medication
Medication mismanagement can result in serious health risks. The more you know about your medicines, the easier it is to avoid medication complications.
- Be aware of how your medications interact with other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, certain foods, alcohol, and other medical conditions.
- Learn how medications impact balance or your ability to operate a motor vehicle and other machinery.
- Create a medication schedule or use a pill organizer to make sure you take no more or less than prescribed.
For more tips on better medication management, talk to your pharmacist or other healthcare professionals. Also, check out this detailed, helpful guide.
2. Prevent Falls
Contrary to what many believe, falls are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented by taking the right precautions. These may include:
- Installing handrails and grab bars wherever they are helpful, especially around stairs and in bathrooms.
- Making sure there is ample lighting in and outside of your home, particularly around frequently used walkways.
- Choosing shoes with non-slip soles that provide support without bulk.
- If needed, using a walking aid to improve balance and stability.
Don’t think you’re at risk for falling? A balance assessment can shed light on your likelihood of falling.
3. Drive Wisely
Age alone does not determine your ability to drive, and for licensed older adults hitting the road, driving represents a freedom and independence that’s hard to replace. Keep your keys and stay safe by:
- Driving exclusively in the daytime when weather conditions are at their best.
- Planning your route before you drive, and using the safest routes that are well-lit, familiar, and offer easy parking.
- Always wearing your seat belt, even during short trips. According to a survey by Progressive Insurance, 52 percent of crashes occur five miles or less from home; 77 percent occur 15 miles or less from home.
- Eliminating distractions inside the vehicle, such as your cell phone, and staying focused on the road.
If weather conditions are questionable or you no longer drive, consider alternate means of transportation. More on this here.
For more information on how you can stay safe in your home this and every month after, get in touch with Kendal at Home.