Common injuries among the elderly and how to prevent them

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Being older doesn't mean you cannot enjoy an active, vibrant life. For many adults, life truly begins after they reach retirement age and are free to do whatever their hearts desire. While there are certainly many things to look forward to in your 60s and beyond, there are some new risks to be aware of. Below you'll find four of the most common injuries that affect seniors and suggestions on how to protect yourself or your loved ones.

FallsFalls are by far the most common injury among the elderly. Fall injuries can result in broken bones, fractures, sprains, concussions and further head trauma. The sustaining injuries can place a senior in hospital for months on end. Grueling recovery from a broken hip or brain injury are devastating for both the patient and their family. Anti-slip flooring, protective mats, handlebars, and even a domestic lift are the easiest ways to prevent fall accidents in your home. Models by this domestic lifts company based in the UK offer flexibility and independence for seniors that promote health and preserve independence.

BurnsBurns can come from scalding water that someone with arthritis may not be able to control easily. Twist faucets are often a struggle for older adults with limited mobility. There are also burn injuries that result from dropping pots and pans while cooking or being exposed to a fire. Keep an extinguisher in easy-to-access parts of the home, and make sure you and your loved ones know how to use them. 

Ensure that seniors also have heat-resistant mittens for handling cookware. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors should also be installed in every room of the home and routinely checked to ensure they're working properly. Additionally, you can install an anti-scald valve in the bathroom to prevent any accidental burns from hot water while bathing.

Car AccidentsMany seniors lament when their eyesight and reflexes no longer permit them to safely drive, but it is a common affliction. The safest way to protect a senior behind the wheel is to recognize when it is time to stop. Many adult children fight with elderly parents who are reluctant to give up their independence, so this may take some time to resolve. Have open conversations with your parents to discuss why they should consider giving up their keys. 

You can also offer to carpool and suggest transportation alternatives that allow them to maintain their autonomy. If they still refuse despite a risk, consider speaking with an occupational therapist and staging an intervention. It might be difficult, but it is in their welfare's best interest.

ChokingLiving alone, many seniors are at risk of choking. Make sure that there are no obvious hazards, including hard candies and toffees. Adults who are in wheelchairs or bed-ridden should always be positioned to avoid any potential choking risks. Wires, cables and anything that could lead to strangulation should also be put away and properly secured. 

When preparing food, take into account a senior's dentures and swallowing abilities. Those with certain conditions may not be able to apply enough bite force to thoroughly chew some meals. Make sure that any soups or stews only have ingredients cut into small, easy-to-swallow pieces.

How to Assist Elderly ParentsOne of the most challenging parts of managing seniors' health is helping them maintain autonomy in their own lives. As their adult child, you may assume the role of caregiver in many regards. This can cause an elderly person to feel embarrassed, ashamed and even resentful toward their age. While it is difficult to watch a loved one get older and lose some of their independence, they can certainly age gracefully and do not have to live a less engaging, fulfilling life. 

The most important thing to do is continually include them in any changes that are being made. Rather than acting for them, make them a part of the process. It's their health, after all, so they should feel like choices are in their hands. If a loved one insists on living alone despite requests to merge households, keep a close eye on them. Pay routine visits, and consider having them install cameras for safety. They should also always wear an emergency medical alert bracelet and have easy access to call for help.

This article was written in cooperation with Jenna Christine