Tuesday, October 4, 2011

safety for older adults

As people age there is often concern about safety.  Here are some tips that might be helpful.

 (1) Before a crises occurs talk to the older adult about his or her hopes and fears about aging. Discuss the various levels of care available should a person need assistance such as assisted living, moving in with a child or hiring in home care. 
 (2) Get outside help if needed. A family conference or several conferences gives everyone a chance to share their ideas and worries and develop a plan.

 (3) Put the paperwork in place.  Important documents  should be completed before memory or health problems becomes an issue.Paperwork such as Advanced directives which  include a  Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. They specify  what the older person's wishes are regarding end of life decisions and whom the older adult would like to have as  a spokesperson in the event the elderly person can no longer speak for himself.

 (4) Rule out any physical  reasons. Schedule an appointment with the person's primary care provider or geriatric specialist to have an examination. If the examination rules out any medical conditions consider consulting a social worker or agency that specializes in working with the elderly.

 (5) See for yourself how the person is living. People with memory or judgement problems may not be aware that they are, in fact, having problems.  Check for things such as is the person taking medications as prescribed?  Is the  food in the refigerator outdated ?  Is the person eating nutritous meals?

(6) Be aware of who is helping . It might be a kindly neighbor, a former caregiver, or a family member. However there are individuals who give the appearance of establishing a caring relationship with the older adult to exploit them The predator may gradually assume complete control over an elderly person's life, including bank accounts and legal documents such as Power of Attorney. The older adult actually may begin to see these predators as their protectors, and may even turn against their own family members. Situations like this can sometimes require contacting Adult Protective Services.

 (7) Do what is right. Intervening on an older person's behalf can be difficult. However, when an older person's judgement is impaired you must intervene to ensure safety even without his or her blessing. If you care about them you need to keep them safe and it is best to do it before the situation becomes urgent.

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