I recently enjoyed a radio interview with Dr. Sandy Miller of Complete Hearing, Lincoln, Nebraska. We focused on engaging with older folks during the holidays, and keeping them comfortable. It was great information for both baby boomers and older adults.
Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:
Dr. Miller is a licensed audiologist. She reminded listeners that with the holidays, people may be visiting, often staying in unfamiliar environments. So it’s important to make sure our older loved ones are comfortable and safe.
Dr. Miller reminded us that when people can’t hear well, they can withdraw and begin to isolate themselves. (Upon further research, I discovered that at least 25% of people age 65 to 74 have disabling hearing loss, most of which is treatable.) This is especially problematic during the holidays. So if older family members or friends have hearing problems, we need to remember to bring them into the conversation by speaking directly at them. Don’t assume you’re being heard, especially if there’s a lot of background noise. Talk with your loved ones to confirm they understand what is being said.
Also, Dr.Miller talked about how hearing problems affect balance. Studies show that hearing loss increases the risk of falls. We all need to be mindful of the keeping the environment safe for older adults, especially if they’re visiting and not familiar with their surroundings.
Here is some information I added to the conversation:
First, the statistics about falling are startling: One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year; every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Fear of falling can cause older adults to stay inside, limiting their activities and social engagements, which can result in further physical decline.
To make rooms safe, remove throw rugs and make sure seniors have a clear path when walking through the house (especially between the bedroom and bathroom, where most people tend to fall). Try to keep small dogs and children out from underfoot, be sure lighting is adequate, and handrails in bathrooms and stairway are sturdy.
We also talked about the importance of movement, and I reminded listeners to try to get up every hour and walk for 2 – 3 minutes.
For more ideas to stay safe now and all year long, give me a call. We can see if any of my programs or products work for you!