Avoiding Falls with Kitty Litter and Other Winter Safety Tips

With winter’s cold conditions, it’s more important than ever to prevent falls inside and outside the home.

Ice is of particular concern, especially when temperatures dip into the 30s and below. The risk of slipping and falling on icy patches will only increase until spring arrives, so it’s vital to be looking for ways to prevent falls. What can we do?

According to Mindy Renfro, chair of the American Physical Therapy Association, you should carry around some kitty litter.

Do you mean the stuff that cats go potty in? Yep, it’s absorbent, affordable, and—most importantly—gritty.

Renfro writes at the National Council on Aging, “Encourage older adults to carry a zip-top bag filled with a lightweight kitty litter in their pocket to cast out ahead of themselves on slick surfaces.”

The Council also recommends a few products that help older adults prevent falls and call for help if they do slip.

  • Fall alarm systems, like EasyCall, which are motion-triggered if a fall occurs.
  • Higher toilets in the home.
  • Replace multifocal glasses with single vision eyeglass lenses. Changing between focal lengths can cause a loss of balance in some.
  • Grab-bars in the bathroom and next to outside steps or inside thresholds.
  • Strong railings on both sides of stairways and automatic lights over the stairs.
  • Cover the entryway to the home and provide a table to set down bags while finding keys.
  • Shorter days mean more time in the dark—give your loved ones life small flashlights to attach to keys, hats, and coat buttons.

With a few additions to the home, you can make the wet and icy winter months a litter safer for the senior in your life.

Happy National Caregivers Day!

This Friday, Feb. 21, marks National Caregivers Day. Here at EasyCall, we’re big supporters of all the caregivers across the country who are helping their family members live better lives.

Did you know there are more than 66 million family caregivers in the United States? Every year, these dedicated individuals selflessly contribute over $375 billion worth of care to their loved ones.

It’s a challenge to provide high-quality care to others while also caring for oneself, raising a family, working full-time, and more. To help, we’ve rounded up online resources that can help you as a caregiver and hopefully help you find a little rest and relaxation in your day.

National Family Caregiver Support Program
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) provides grants to States and Territories to fund a range of supports that assist family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible.

Eldercare Locator
The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, is the first step to finding resources for older adults in any U.S. community. Visit the organization’s website for an instant connection to resources that enable older persons to live independently in their communities. The service links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers.

Family Caregiver Alliance
The Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) strives to improve the quality of life for family caregivers and the people who receive their care. For over 40 years, FCA has provided services to family caregivers of adults with physical and cognitive impairments, such as Parkinson’s, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and other types of dementia. The alliance’s services include assessment, care planning, direct care skills, wellness programs, respite services, and legal/financial consultation vouchers.

Caregiver Action Network
Caregiver Action Network is a leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the millions of Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. CAN serves a broad spectrum of family caregivers ranging from the parents of children with special needs to the families and friends of wounded soldiers, from a young couple dealing with a diagnosis of M.S. to adult children caring for parents with Alzheimer’s disease. CAN is a non-profit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge.

Thanks again for all you do and Happy National Caregivers day!

Seniors, Stay Engaged with Lifelong Learning 🎓

Being an engaged and active learner is something we should all strive for. 

One of the great opportunities seniors enjoy is having the time to learn about subjects that were always interesting but too time-consuming to explore. Educators call this “lifelong learning,” and our golden years are the perfect time to explore fascinating topics.

Universities and colleges offer special low-cost or even free courses in topics ranging from art history to painting, geography, and more. Here’s a quick list of some great lifelong learning resources, perfect for the senior in your life:

Take a College Course

In Northern California, Humboldt State University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers more than 40 classes every year for seniors over the age of 50.

Go Online for Lifelong Learning

The internet offers endless variety and opportunities for lifelong learning.

You can learn a foreign language with the BBC or enroll in more than 40,000 courses from Udemy.com

The online video service Youtube is filled with lectures and talks taken straight from university lecture halls and beyond.

For even more ideas, check out the Easy Living blog and their great list of resources for free and low-cost lifelong learning opportunities for seniors.

Our senior years offer an opportunity to engage with our communities in new ways. Starting a new course, developing a new hobby, or even earning a new degree are just a few ways to make these years rewarding.

Four Unexpected Winter Health Tips for Seniors

Beyond the seasonal colds and cases of flu, winter brings other health challenges. The sudden changes in the weather lead to dry and cracking skin, raise the chance of slips, and trap us indoors for months as we seek shelter from the cold.

Make this year different by taking a proactive approach to health this winter. With these unconventional tips, you can help the senior in your life stay healthy and safe this winter.

Find Out if Chills Have a Medical Cause

Many seniors report feeling cold even while the rest of us feel toasty warm. Always feeling cold can be caused by slow circulation—something that affects many of us as we age. Thyroid conditions can also lead to a loss of temperature regulation. Before you buy another electric blanket, check with your loved one’s doctor to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing chills. We’ve spoken with folks who have received treatment for malfunctioning thyroids, and they all report not feeling as cold. If you’ve already eliminated medical reasons for being cold, it may be time to invest in smart thermostats, space heaters, or microwaveable heat packs.

Maintain a Healthy & Varied Diet

Staying indoors for the winter months can lead to another unexpected complication for seniors: nutritional deficiencies. Our winter hibernations can cause unhealthy habits, including eating the same things over and over. Yet, we need variety in our diets to get all the vitamins and minerals we need. Vitamin D is especially crucial in the winter. Ideally, we absorb our vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun, but that exposure is limited in winter. That’s why nutritionists recommend consuming foods that are fortified with vitamin D, like milk and seafood, such as salmon and tuna.

Swap Canes for Walkers to Avoid Falls

The chance of falling skyrockets in winter. Frosty conditions can spell disaster for seniors, who aren’t as agile or mobile as they once were. When it’s slippery and wet outside, caregivers recommend walkers instead of canes. Others suggest keeping two walkers, one for indoors, and another that can get dirty when heading out.

Use Unscented Lotions to Soothe Dry Skin

Cracked and dry skin is painful and unattractive, but traditional treatments might not be as effective as we thought. For example, doctors recommend avoiding baby oil, which contains mineral oil and fragrances that often irritate the skin. Instead, experts recommend skin-friendly, fragrance-free lotions and creams. Stores are stocked with effective, unscented products that can reduce dry skin. For some, dry skin can get so bad that it cracks in a condition known as “winter itch.” Winter itch is a form of seasonal eczema, and, thankfully, it can be treated with antibiotic ointment. Ask your doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing this uncomfortable but treatable skin condition.

Winter is full of hazards for young and old alike. Caregivers should pay extra attention to the health and wellbeing of seniors this season. With a bit of planning, seniors can have a healthy and safe winter and get ready for warmer months ahead.

Use a Safety Checklist to Keep Seniors Safe at Home

If you have a senior family member or loved one who lives on their own, then you know how important it is to ensure their home is safe and comfortable.

Reducing the risk of falls for seniors is the most important thing we can do as caregivers. The National Council on Aging tells us that every 11 seconds, an older adult experiences a fall that sends them to the hospital.

It’s essential to address safety issues in every room of the house. Here’s a handy checklist you can use to make sure the senior in your life is as safe and secure as possible.

Avoiding Falls

  • Remove objects like small tables, baskets, and other potential tripping hazards. Walkways should always be clear.
  • Tack down loose rugs or get rugs with anti-slip backing and make sure all area rugs are on pads.
  • Make sure all cords are removed from walkways and are routed along walls.
  • Clean up any spills as soon as they happen.

Installable Safety Measures

  • Install motion-activated lighting and railings at all entryways. Consider installing ramps at the front and back doors, so seniors don’t have to climb steps.
  • Add a non-slip mat in all bathtubs or shower stalls.
  • Add grab bars near the toilet and in the bath.
  • Consider an electric stair lift if your loved one can no longer climb stairs
  • Add interior motion lights to commons areas like bathrooms and hallways and other spaces frequented at night.
  • Add color striping to any steps or changes in floor heights
  • Install GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupters) electrical outlets around the kitchen and bathroom to lower the risk of electrical shock
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke detectors (m)
  • Add a personal emergency response system like EasyCall to your loved one’s bedroom or living room

Complete Routine Repairs and Maintenance

  • Fix any uneven flooring or carpeting that could lead to falls
  • Make sure windows, doors, and screens are all in good working order and are easy to open
  • Ensure furniture is in good condition and complete any necessary repairsThis list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start. By going through your loved one’s home, room by room, you can identify and address potential safety and make their home safer, more secure, and more comfortable than ever.

The Top 7 Ways to Stay Social as We Age

Time spent with friends and family makes us feel vital and alive.

Recently, Harvard Medical School shared tips to help caregivers find ways to keep their loved ones socially active.

As we age, a number of factors can impact our ability to stay social. Impaired hearing or sight and limited mobility are just a few things that can keep us from spending time with our friends and families.

Medical professionals want to help. Here are Havard’s top seven ways to make sure the seniors in your life stay healthy and socially engaged:

  1. Plan visits at home and away with friends and family members.
  2. Teach your loved one how to use a computer and keep in touch by email or Facebook.
  3. Sign up your loved one for tai chi, water aerobics, or another fitness activity.
  4. Encourage him or her to volunteer in the community.
  5. Take day trips together to nearby museums, restaurants, or libraries.
  6. Enroll him or her in a group that shares a common interest, such as bridge, knitting, or books.
  7. Schedule regular phone or Skype calls with friends and family members who live far away.

Of course, staying healthy also means knowing that help is there when you need it. EasyCall is your always-on always-ready guardian. Visit us today to learn more about EasyCall.