October 1 will be the United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons. It’s an opportunity to consider our senior citizens and ensure they are as independent, safe and comfortable as possible.
Aging in New England
Seniors make up a substantial portion of the population here in New England, according to SeniorLiving.org:
- The average U.S. lifespan is roughly 78 years
- Most elderly people have at least one chronic health care problem (ranging from arthritis to advanced Alzheimer’s disease)
- According to Seniorcare.org, in Massachusetts, 14 percent of the population are seniors, which amounted to roughly 966,280 people in 2018
- About 30 percent of these Bay State seniors live alone
The size of that statistic makes it likely either we or people we care for will be at risk.
What We Can Do for Senior Safety
With 97 percent of seniors nationwide living at least somewhat independently, the rest of us (or our elderly loved ones) must take steps to ensure safety. That especially applies to the greatest threat: falling. In any given year, 25 percent of those over 65 will fall, and this frequently results in injuries or death.
The following proactive steps can help to reduce the likelihood and risk from falling, according to the National Council on Aging and other previously cited sources:
- Make sure eyewear is up to date: what you can’t see can hurt you
- Exercise: it’s good for your heart and overall health, but also to ensure you are maintaining your balance (to help prevent accidental falls)
- Keep your floors clutter-free
- Do a walkthrough safety assessment of the home
- Install a medical alert system, which can connect an elderly person via phone to a command center manned by professionals, 24/7
In 2019 in Massachusetts alone, we’ve seen how such a service has worked: in Fitchburg, at an apartment; in Sherborn, at a seniors’ apartment complex; and Boston, at a residential complex. In each case, the command center monitoring the alarms dispatched help and the affected persons were taken to the hospital.
A medical alert system can provide that extra layer of protection for you or your loved ones today, providing security and peace of mind. Such systems help boost independence and wellbeing without obstructing lifestyles.
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