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Discover tips for aging seniors to stay safe.

Whether you’re a senior citizen or you have an aging loved one, it pays to stay on top of useful safety tips for aging seniors. We’ve put together some simple tips to help out around the house, on the road and even online.

1. Be aware of common schemes. Sadly, there are many who prey on the elderly with fraudulent ways to take their money. The FBI lists common schemes to be aware of. Help your loved one avoid getting duped on the phone, online and by door-to-door solicitors. Be an advocate for your loved one when it comes to fraud and solicitors.

2. Be safe on the road. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 5,500 older adults were killed and more than 183,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2008. To avoid danger on the road, the elderly should wear seat belts, avoid difficult driving situations and stop driving if the ability to drive safely is impaired. Distractions like loud music, cell phones and food should be avoided on the road.

3. Be careful about falls. According to the CDC, one in every three adults ages 65 or older falls. Regular exercise can help, as well as being aware of the side effects of medication and symptoms of existing health concerns. Try to fall-proof the home by removing hazards and using aids like handles, walkers or canes. Remove throw rugs that can slip and keep areas of the home well lit during the day and at night.

North Hills Hospital offers patients over 65 a specialized Senior Health Clinic for their needs. If you would like to find a doctor to speak with, please visit us online or call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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As your parents get older, understand the facts of aging and what you should be on the lookout for.

We get older every day. For those of us with aging parents, the progression of time means taking an honest look at our parents’ health and independence. Whether you’re a full time caretaker for your parents or not, it’s important to stay on top of the facts of aging and senior health. Know when to worry about your aging parents and what you need to do to help them.

Are your parents’ financial and legal documents in order?
If your parents haven’t kept up with paperwork and legal documents, it’s time to step in and get involved. Make sure that your parents have living wills. Have your parents assist you in locating all important paperwork. In case of illness or emergency, you need access to this information. ElderCare.gov recommends locating:

  • insurance policies
  • wills
  • trust documents
  • tax returns
  • investment and banking records

Are you aware of the warning signs of declining health and independence?
Independent seniors can begin to show signs of declining health or declining mental abilities at any time. As the child of an aging parent, it’s important to know what to look out for. These signs from the Department of Health and Human Services are cause for worry in that they could be signs that your aging parent requires living assistance or medical care.

  • Poor hygiene and personal care. Is your parent showing signs of declining hygiene or personal care, such as failure to bathe or wash clothes?
  • Forgetfulness or personality changes. Is your parent forgetting things more often? Is she acting moody or responding to normal events in different ways?
  • Unusual or out of character behavior. Is your parent acting unusual? Examples can include no longer participating in hobbies, no longer keeping up with relationships, making strange purchases or mishandling responsibilities.
  • Physical changes. Does your parent show signs of injury, such as unusual bruising, burns or scratches? Is she falling ill often or forgetting to take medication?

To learn more about elder issues, visit our website or for a physician referral, please call 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Learn how to make your health a priority in your senior years.

Your senior years can be some of the best years of your life. Having grandchildren or time for retirement offers you wonderful memories and experiences. Now is the time to make these years count, so it is critical to be proactive about your health in order to maintain a comfortable and enjoyable quality of life. Senior citizens need to take special precautions to live well and stay healthy. Here are five healthy living tips to help you prevent illness, accidents and disease.

1. Maintain a safe environment.
Take care to keep your living environment as safe as possible. Install hand rails, sturdy step stools and other safety equipment in your home. Make sure that you have an easy way to access your telephone in case of an emergency. Keep walkways lit and free of clutter. Ask a friend or loved one to check in on you periodically if you’re living independently.

2. Make diet and exercise count.
Use your diet as a tool against heart disease, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. Medline Plus recommends that seniors avoid empty calories from foods with very few nutrients, such as potato chips, sweets, soda and alcohol. Exercise can improve arthritis symptoms and balance, prevent obesity and lower your risk of heart disease. Talk to your physician about which exercise programs are recommended for you.

3. Get vaccinated.
Make sure you receive your flu shot every year. Seniors can be more susceptible to serious complications and should always receive the flu vaccination. Ask your doctor if you should receive additional vaccinations, such as the shingles vaccine and pertussis.

4. Take your medication.
If you have been prescribed medications for any specific health condition, take those medications and supplements exactly as directed. Consider using auto-refills at your pharmacy to avoid any lapses. Here are some tips about simplifying your medication regimen and be sure to check out these "dos and don'ts" for taking medication.

5. Visit your doctor regularly.
Health screenings become more and more important for seniors. Visit your doctor regularly for well visits and promptly for any health concerns or troubling symptoms you might have. The sooner issues are identified, the more easily they can be treated.

North Hills Hospital offers senior patients a specialized Senior Health Clinic. Here we manage all the health needs of patients 65 and older with immediate and professional care. Meet our talented staff of Senior Clinic physicians here. Please visit us online or call 1-855-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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According to the CDC, almost 40 million Americans are over the age of 65. Many adult children care for aging parents in one way or another. Thankfully, there are many resources available to help you learn to help your parents. As you take on a caretaker role, remember to attend to your own needs. You’re more help to your elderly parents when you’re feeling healthy and secure.

Establish Routines and Boundaries
If you’re just transitioning into a caretaker role, be explicit about your role in your aging parent’s life. Seniors deserve respect and understanding that it isn’t easy to relinquish responsibilities and independence. Sit down with your parent and discuss what you’ll be helping with and what you won’t be helping with. Talk about healthy boundaries, such as when it’s okay to drop by and when it’s not. Establish times to check in with one another. Ask about being added as an emergency contact with all your parent’s health care providers.

Encourage Hobbies and Social Time
If independence is lost, or a parent is dealing with chronic health issues, depression can take its toll. Help your aging loved one take on appropriate hobbies and maintain a social life. If some tasks have become difficult, see if you can help with upgraded tools and accessories that assist individuals with impaired eyesight and fine motor skills. Don’t rule out travel. Look into senior discounts on everything from train tickets to passes to national parks. Find out if your local community offers free groups and social events for seniors. Help your aging loved one play safe online. For example, you can help a parent set up a free Facebook account to keep up with children and grandchildren.

Assist with Health and Safety
Chances are, your aging parents require more maintenance when it comes to health and safety. Learn exactly what your senior parent’s health routine is, especially when it comes to medications. You may need to help put together a calendar of prescription expiration dates and assist with a daily medication plan. Consider tagging along on doctor’s appointments. Make sure your aging parent is eating appropriately, with access to a wide variety of nutritious foods. Help guard your parent against schemes that prey on the elderly, and be aware of signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

North Hills Hospital offers senior patients medical care designed specifically for those ages 65 and older at our Senior Health Clinic. We also offer Senior Educational Seminars to provide support and insight into preventative care. Visit us online or call our clinic at 817-255-1940.

Resources for Caretakers and Seniors
Eldercare’s Guide to Federal Websites
USA.gov’s Senior Citizens’ Resources

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With the right systems in place, healthy seniors can live at home with minimal assistance. Whether you’re a part time or full time caretaker, you can take steps to assist your loved one with an independent lifestyle.

Check in Frequently

Establish a routine to check in with seniors living alone. Visit your loved one’s residence regularly. Check on things like medications, their need for refills and groceries. You may want to schedule a phone call every day or every few days just to touch base. Ensure that your loved one has access to emergency numbers, including your own.

Be Aware of Scams and Fraud

The FBI populates a list of common scams that prey on senior citizens. Familiarize yourself with the most common fraud schemes and share this information with your senior loved one. You may also want to ensure that your loved one’s phone number is unlisted and placed on do not call lists to help avoid potential problems. Consider posting a no soliciting sign on the front door as well.

Keep Safety Measures and Services Up to Date

Help seniors with medical programs and government assistance. The Department of Health and Human Services has a great online tool to help find local resources for seniors and their families. Seniors may require assistance traveling to doctor’s appointments, with in-home medical care or with legal needs. In the home, ensure that safety measures are updated, including smoke detectors and emergency systems.

Install Helpful Devices

Install handrails, bedrails and other devices to help seniors complete daily tasks safely and with minimal risk of injury. Avoid storage that requires climbing step stools or excessive reaching. Use a non-skid mat in the shower and a shower seat. Ask your loved one’s health care provider for recommendations on any medical equipment that may be necessarily in the home.

Know When to Intervene

The time will come when a senior citizen is no longer able to live independently or without constant help in the home. Keep an eye on behavior and be prepared to begin a transition to assisted living or a full time care facility if needed. Try not to feel guilty if you cannot function as the sole caregiver. Whatever solution your family agrees upon, it will be in your loved one’s best interests.

North Hills Hospital meets the medical needs of patients 65 and older at our Senior Health Clinic. In addition to specialized geriatric care, our social worker provides families with resources for independent living. We also offer senior educational seminars. For more information, please visit our Senior Health Clinic online or call (817) 255-1940.

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