Seniors from Utah are healthier and spryer than most seniors in the nation. Utahns age well, and most retain their independence. However, that independence also makes them more vulnerable to accidents.
Falls at Home
Most accidents involving seniors happen in their own homes, most notably slips and falls. Every year, one in three seniors suffers from falls, some suffering from multiple instances. Once you’ve suffered a fall, your chances of falling yet again in that same year rise significantly. Falls account for the most number of fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors. Muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons significantly weaken as one ages, especially if one practices an inactive or sedentary lifestyle. Hip fractures can be especially dangerous.
More than half of all seniors who fracture their hip eventually succumb to their injuries (and complications from it) within a year. Falls in the bathroom are quite common. Seniors often need to use the bathroom more frequently, and the slippery nature of bathrooms and strains on the knee (while sitting down and getting up) can be a recipe for disaster. Tiles and fixtures can be unforgiving, and accidents in the bathroom are twice as likely to result in injuries.
A little remodeling should make your bathrooms significantly safer. Get rid of rugs and mats that can cause you to slip or tangle on your cane or other walking implement. Install grab bars on the walls leading to the toilet, and add a few supports to make sitting down and getting up easier and safer. Changing positions can send blood rushing to your head or disrupt your inner ear causing bouts of dizziness or vertigo.
Make sure you have something to hold on to, so you can maintain your balance. Normal showers and baths are out of the question. Getting in and out of a tub can be impossible for most seniors, and soap suds as you shower can be dangerous. Opt for a walk-in tub so you can take a bath while sitting down. These tubs are specially designed for seniors, particularly ones with mobility issues.
Bumps on the Road
Utah seniors are involved in a mere 8 percent of all automobile accidents in the state, but they account for close to 20 percent of fatalities. Unfortunately, senior bodies grow frailer with age. A fender bender that would have had little to no effect on you in your prime could leave you with a bad case of whiplash.
Avoiding hazards and obstacles also becomes more difficult as you age. Your reflexes have probably dulled significantly, and reacting a split-second late can often have serious consequences. Eyesight can also be a factor. Most seniors put off vision-related treatments and procedures, perceiving vision loss as a normal part of growing old. Medication can also play significant roles in senior accidents. Most of them can dull your reflexes even further, particularly pain killers and opioids.
Use a ride-sharing app if you need to go somewhere, especially if you feel light-headed from medication. Utah has harsh laws regarding DUIs. Getting someone to drive you to your destination keeps you and others safe while avoiding hefty fines. If you must drive your car, only do so in good weather conditions. Take a defensive driving or collision prevention course. These courses will usually cost $15 to $20, but they will lower your insurance premiums by up to 15 percent.
Most Utah seniors don’t have mobility issues or physical problems. However, their longer life spans make them more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s. Over-medication (which counts as poisoning) is the third leading cause of accidental death among Utah seniors. Memory lapses can cause someone to take more than the usual dosage, often having serious consequences.
Most seniors also experience joint pains that require painkillers and opioids. Overdose instances significantly rise during winters, as seniors manage joint pains that flare up with the cold. Opioid abuse can also be a problem as doctors tend to over-prescribe opioid medication.
Seniors living on their own have higher chances of suffering from overdoses. Timed pill dispensers can ensure you won’t take more than the right amount of doses in a day. You can also consult your doctor for non-opioid medication or homeopathic alternatives that you can use.
If you think you might be hooked on opioids, consult with a rehabilitation facility. Take a short drive to West Valley or Sandy to be a bit more discreet, and opt for in-house or outpatient rehabilitation programs.
Utah’s seniors may be the healthiest in the nation, but they are still vulnerable to accidents at home and on the road. Note the dangers involved as well as how to prevent them.