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A Caregiver’s Guide to Help Keep Loved Ones Safe

In an ever-increasing ageing population, caring for a loved one is a challenge that most of us will have to face at some time. Whether you are personally caring for a loved one or are a care provider responsible for a residential care home, there is much to consider.

Carers must know when to step in and when to encourage independence. Being a caregiver can involve managing finances and ensuring safe living environments that meet changing needs. It also means being concerned about safety, whether the person concerned is your loved one living in their own home or a patient/resident in a residential or nursing care home.

It is important for all caregivers to be familiar with possible risks and proactive prevention for the person, especially when severe conditions such as Dementia or Alzheimers are involved. Some real safety threats can include accessing and ingesting dangerous substances, injury to themselves or others from sharp objects, fires, burns and more.

Providing care services at any level is not easy, but advance planning and employing helpful strategies help ensure the safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable and elderly.

Medication Safety

Sadly, avoidable medication errors are a leading cause of hospitalisation, and even death, simply due to patients not taking their medications correctly. Many patients can have multiple prescriptions in addition to over-the-counter drugs or supplements. Taking medication can rapidly become complicated and confusing for both carers and patients. A simple solution is to introduce a system to track and manage medication, i.e., a pillbox or reminders on the carer’s phone. Monitoring daily medicines on behalf of another person is a big responsibility and mean more than just handing them a tablet to take. It also involves:

· understanding and adhering to ever-changing medication schedules

· noting the correct name of each medication type being taken

· knowing why each medication type is being prescribed and for how long

· understanding the exact dosage as well as the time and frequency for administering

· being aware of the side effects and monitoring potential interactions between the different medications

· clear labelling and secure storage of medication

Caregivers should, wherever possible, communicate directly with the person they are caring for regarding their medication schedules. Involving a loved one or patient in the conversation allows the caregiver to learn about any side effects that the patient may be experiencing, allowing time for early intervention.

Falls, Accidents and Injuries

It is by no means an easy task to make sure your loved one or patient never suffers injuries resulting from accidents. However, being aware of the common safety problems and taking pre-emptive action can help prevent such injuries as safely storing sharp objects.

Many older adults have impaired balance and poor vision, making them particularly susceptible to accidents involving a fall. This makes falls the leading cause of injury among older adults, with many falls occurring at home. Although some minor fall injuries, many are severe and can even cause death.