This unit will explain the risks and prevention measures that need to be taken while taking care of elderly people (especially in cases of dementia). We will develop the topic by addressing both the risks of individuals and workers in the domestic and institutional fields, and we will explain safety and prevention measures.
To understand this topic, it is necessary to explain what we mean when we talk about risks and security.
When we talk about risks, we are talking about the possibility of a setback or of someone suffering harm or prejudice. In the field in particular, we refer to factors that contribute to age-related or work environment-related injuries or damage to older people and professionals.
When we talk about safety, we make reference to those factors that minimise the risks in order to avoid damage to people and professionals.
2.1 ELDERLY PEOPLE
The elderly, due to their age-related conditions, present certain general risks such as injuries caused by falls, loss of balance, motor difficulties, etc.
When a person reaches a certain age they suffer a loss of sensorial skills (sight, hearing...) and psychomotor skills (reflexes, agility...) due to natural aging which makes them more likely to suffer an accident. The main injuries are produced by falls, choking, burns and electrical accidents.
2.1.1 SPECIFIC RISKS IN THE HOUSEHOLD
These are the most frequent accidents in the house. The following are the places where they usually occur and the recommendations to try to avoid them. You can also find information about the physical environment in Unit 3 "Physical Environment".
FALLS ON THE STAIRS:
• Always use the handrails or the railing to go up or downstairs.
• Always turn on the light.
• Make sure that the stairs and landings are always free of objects you might trip over.
• Try to wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes with rubber soles.
• If you have to carry heavy bags, ask for help to keep at least one hand free.
• Steps should have non-slip strips on their edges
• Preferably install anti-slip flooring.
• Keep the floors in rooms and corridors clear of objects you might trip over (pots, wires, decorations).
• Be careful with carpets, especially small ones, because they are often a cause of tripping. They should be non-slip or fixed to the floor. If this is not possible, remove them.
• Avoid stepping on slippery floors.
• Avoid spilling water or liquids.
• Floors should not be excessively polished and waxed as they can be slippery. Be careful with cleaning products (polish, waxes).
• Never walk with only socks or stockings
IN THE BATHROOM:
• A shower plate or drain is more practical than a bathtub.
• Place handles that are appropriate for this use, to help you get up from the toilet and to get in and out of the shower or bath.
• It is very useful to install polyester seats with non-slip rubber pads.
• Install anti-slip material (carpet or adhesive liquid) inside the bath or shower. At the exit, place a non-slip mat.
• Avoid the formation of steam in the bathroom with good ventilation as an excess of steam can cause dizziness.
IN THE BEDROOM:
• Do not get out of bed suddenly. Remain seated for a few moments before getting up.
• Make sure that the access area to the bed is large enough to get in and out safely.
• Avoid carpets.
• A dim light in the middle of the night is useful
IN THE KITCHEN:
• Try not to use knives that are too sharp.
• Cut the food on a chopping board.
• Open the cans in the opposite direction to your hands.
• Always place the handles of pots, pans or saucepans so that they do not stick out from the edge of the cooker.
• Always use the cooker that is located further away from the edge when possible.
• Charcoal braziers are very dangerous. If you can avoid using them.
• Whenever the cooker, heater or gas cooker is not in use, make sure that the stopcock is closed. Do not leave the house without checking it.
• You must be especially careful when handling oil or other boiling liquids.
• If necessary, you can put labels on the cabinets to know what objects are inside as a spatial orientation