AN ALARMING NUMBERS OF SENIORS IN ACCIDENTS
Safety at home, at work, at play, at shopping. An issue that becomes more significant and consequential with age. Let me explain what I mean. First, the numbers: The Home Safety Council claims that in the USA alone 7000 seniors, age 65 and above, die as the result of home injuries and 2.3 million suffer non-fatal injuries annually. Falls are the leading cause, with fires a close second.
How about injuries suffered in car accidents? According to The National Safety Council, during 2003 seniors age 65 and above were involved in some 1.3 million car accidents.
In both home and car injuries and fatalities, the older one gets, the likelier the chance for an accident. For example, the Home Safety Council reports that deaths from home injuries almost triple for adults between the ages of sixty-five and eighty-four, and nearly eight times as much for adults age eighty-five and older.
These numbers are truly staggering. And, in the opinion of safety experts who have studied the subject, much of it is preventable.
I agree. I've been researching the subject of senior safety, and if any one conclusion is apparent it's that with some basic safety precautions the number of accidents can be substantially lessened.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ron Smith, a senior citizen's advocate. Like you (or your parents if you happen to be the concerned son or daughter of older citizens), I'm a senior in my early seventies. Over the years I've had my share of accidents, and like most seniors, I've noticed that with increasing age, the frequency of those accidents appears to be on the upswing. I don't know about you, but when I realized my wife and I were becoming more susceptible to accidents around the home and in our cars and in the malls, I wanted to know why. The results alarmed me.
And rightfully so. There are understandable reasons, most of them physical. Among them:
+ As seniors grow older, our vision and hearing deteriorate, obviously some faster than others, but we all suffer a decline. When we have trouble seeing and hearing obstacles we'd normally be alert to, they suddenly become hazards.
+ Our reaction time slows. What would have been a near-miss accident when we were thirty-five, now sends us to the hospital in a blaring ambulance. For example, I've noticed that while driving a car, I take longer to react to surrounding conditions, particularly when they come up fast. And my night vision isn't what it used to be, which, combined with my slower reaction time, increases the chance of an accident.
+ Our physical strength declines with age unless we take positive steps to lessen its effect. Medical experts estimate that as people grow older they lose about one percent of their muscle mass per year after approximately age forty. We can counter much of this effect through strength training, but we'll never fully compensate for the loss.
+ We don't have the balance we once had. Consequently, we slip and fall more often.
+ As we age, our inevitable physical decline leads to increasing amounts of medication to compensate for physical impairments and disabilities. This medication can often dull senses, so that we're more vulnerable to mishaps.
This book is aimed squarely at seniors like my wife and myself, people who want to know what they need to do to avoid accidents, but have been unable to find any single source to guide their efforts. Safety for Savvy Seniors provides such help. I wrote it, not only for seniors, but also for the children and grandchildren of seniors who want to prevent their moms and dads or grandmas and grandpas from adding their names to the growing number of accidental death and injury statistics.
In this book I do not purport to describe every possible accident scenario. That would take a book the size of a New York telephone directory--and still miss some potential hazards. Nor do I want to minimize the importance of using judgment to avoid safety hazards. Often a senior's second sense will alert him or her to an impending accident; using that sense may prevent injury.
But, please, I am not a doctor, a nurse, or a therapist. Neither am I a lawyer, a police officer, a fireman, an electrician, a plumber, a sanitation engineer, a professional chef, a poison control or hazardous material specialist, a personal trainer. So remember, the suggestions made in this book should act as a reminder that whatever safety measure you undertake, consult the appropriate professional before doing so. This book is a starting point only, a description of a few of the safety measures to be considered. It is not, nor can it ever be, a fully-blown description of all things related to safety.
This book describes enough safety hazards and precautions to help seniors avoid the most common traps leading to accidents. And hopefully in an entertaining way, as you will see in the following section.