Care Tips

Safety

Things like throw rugs, electric cords and small objects call cause the elderly to trip and fall. Loose items on the floor should he kept to a minimum. Tape down any electric or telephone cords. Keep all passageways clear and allow sufficient width if a walker or a wheelchair is used.
  • Furniture should be solid and stable and of a suitable height. It is difficult for the elderly person to sit down or get up if the chairs are too low and the cushions too soft.
  • The height of the bed used by the elderly person is an important consideration. It should not be too high or too low, so as to allow the elderly to get in and out of bed without the risk of falling. Place a table lamp beside the bed and use a nightlight.
  • If the room does not have an en—suite bathroom, it is advisable to place a commode chair next to the bed at night. Elderly people often need to go to the toilet during the night and may lose their orientation when they get up from the bed.
  • Consider installing grab—rails in the toilet and shower area, and non—slip floor tiles in the bathroom. Some can be installed with minimum fuss, while others can be laid over existing surfaces. Elderly people, especially those who use walking sticks or walkers, often have problems maneuvering small curbs and steps. Where possible, remove them, or replace the tiles with a darker colour to highlight them.
  • Install adequate lighting and place items like soap and shampoo where they can be reached easily. Many elderly people have stiff joints and may have problems squatting. Replace squatting toilets with sitting toilets, or place a commode chair over the squatting toilet.
  • It is advisable to install a sliding door or a door that opens outwards, to allow more space in the bathroom.
  • Different medicines are prescribed for different conditions and must be taken according to instructions. As many liquids and tablets look similar, it is important that the labels are kept on the original plastic bags or bottle. If you are not sure, check with the doctor or pharmacist.
  • If it is necessary to transfer pills to a box, make sure names, dosages and timings are written clearly. Give instructions to the person responsible for administering the medicine, and supervise until that person fully understands what to do.
  • All medicines should be kept out of reach of children. Some medicines are sensitive to light and need to be stored in dark containers; otherwise they may lose their effectiveness. Keep them in a cupboard, not by the bedside or left lying around the house.
  • Never use medicines that are expired, or prescribed for somebody else. You should flush all expired or leftover medicines down the toilet how to prevent other people, especially children, from eating them.
  • If there are any side effects like rashes, giddiness, swelling or vomiting, stop the medicines immediately and seek advice from the doctor who prescribed them.
  • To prevent the feet or toes from getting infected, wash the feet daily with lukewarm water and mild soap and dry them thoroughly. Apply a moisturizer to the feet and heels to keep the skin soft.
  • Toenails in the elderly tend to become thickened and brittle and can be uncomfortable. Cut them straight across and gently file the rough edges to prevent ingrown nails. If the elderly person is mobile and can move around, ensure properly fitted shoes are worn to protect the toes.
  • People in Singapore have a habit of going barefoot at home. It is advisable that the elderly wear at least a pair of slippers when walking around the house, to prevent injury to the toes if they accidentally knock into something hard, like legs of furniture or children’s toys left lying on the floor.
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