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Training for Old Age – Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Training for Old Age – Be Proactive Instead of Reactive
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By Hilary Young

We all spend the majority of our lives trying to weigh out the risks of situations and avoid danger.  Regardless of how careful we may be, accidents are unavoidable and we have no control over when they will occur.  As we age, accidents and medical emergencies can become more prevalent.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, a total of 19.6 million ER visits were made here in the U.S. by people over the age of 65 in 2010.  And that number rises every year.

While we can’t ever stop these panic-inducing accidents from occurring, we can take certain steps to be more proactive about our safety as we age.  Being prepared for anything will help you to remain calm in an emergency and focus solely on your health and well-being after the fact.

Home Modifications

Since most people are now choosing to age in the comfort of their own homes instead of moving into assisted living, there are small modifications that should be made in order to accommodate changes that come along with age.  While most people don’t want to spend the time or money on a full renovation, there are many small ways to make your house safer for aging in place.

To minimize the risk of falls, it’s important to secure any area rugs to the floor.  If they buckle or are unsettled, they can create a trip hazard for anyone passing by.  You should also consider moving hard-to-reach items in kitchen cabinets to more accessible locations.  Over-reaching for bowls or plates can lead to the loss of balance and falls.  It’s also recommended to use rubber-backed rugs in the bathroom and non-slip mats in the shower to further prevent falls.

For a full list of home modifications, Kansas State University has put together a comprehensive checklist for anyone looking to safely age in place.

Extra Help

There’s no harm in living with a bit of a safety net, especially if you live alone.  Investing in a medical alert system might seem unnecessary at first, but research has shown that when older people fall and are unable to get up on their own, the period of time that elapses before they receive help can affect their health outcome.  While you never ask for a life-altering event to occur, a medical alert system can act as a safety net if and when it does.

Medical alert companies, such as Medical Guardian, work directly with a monitoring center that can respond within moments of an emergency call.  Depending on their protocol, they will either send EMTs directly to your house or call one of your emergency contacts (or in many cases, do both).  Many people focus on the stigma surrounding a medical alert device rather than its benefits while weighing the pros and cons of purchasing one.  Thanks to technological advances and the variety of products that are on the market today, most people are pleasantly surprised by the ease and peace of mind that comes along with a medical alert device.

Have Resources Handy

While you never know what sort of disasters may come your way, it can be helpful to have a go-to selection of resources on hand to that you are not tasked with the added stress of doing research in the wake of an emergency.

So what should you gather information about ahead of time?

Your full coverage information for your health insurance or Medicare plans, for one.  It’s important to know what types of services and doctors are covered by your insurance plans and what might become an out-of-pocket expense for you.

In a similar vain, it’s important to research the Rehab and Physical Therapy Centers in your area.  If you don’t have a preference, you might be randomly assigned to one by your insurance company or a social worker.  Knowing what kinds of services and amenities are available for you may come in handy in an emergency.

And lastly, check to see if there are different in-home caregiving agencies, like Griswold Home Care, in your area.  Sometimes these services are covered by insurance, but often times their price plans won’t break the bank if you have to pay out of pocket.  If you need any kind of in-home service—help with daily activities, dressing, bathing, etc.—a professional caregiving agency will have a variety of professionals on hand to help you with your needs, both temporarily or longer term.

Proactive vs. Reactive

As you can see, it doesn’t take too much effort to be proactive about your health as you age.  Making a few small changes today, can save you a world of stress tomorrow.

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