Free Environmental Hazards And Safety Issues Among Older Adults Research Paper Sample
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Environmental hazards and safety issues among older adults living in nursing homes, independent facilities, and at home is a major concern for the old and their children. Because there is an alarming figure that points to accidents involving older adults at home and in nursing homes every year, the need to safeguard older adults against falls, burns, poisonings, and self-inflicted injury to name a few, has become necessary. Older adults have a high percentage of chance of being injured in accidents because they may be under the influence of sleep-induced medicines; live alone and have no one to care or direct them when needed; find themselves crowded with furniture that truncates their free mobility; or have no access to grab bars for support. Therefore, environment is perceived to play a significant role in a number of accidents attributed to older adults. The environment would be the community in which the older people reside and the challenges they face there, and include houses, residential or nursing homes; the places they might visit, which include shops, post offices, health care facilities, or parks; and places they use to walk, namely bus-stops, footpaths, road crossings and so on. Therefore, it is important to address the issues that hamper the safety of older adults. As long as they are mobile, they will be able to take care of themselves, but the minute they become bedridden due to a fall or other injuries, they will become dependent and have to face an unpredictable future on their own.
There is evidence to show that most falls and their related injuries among older adults is a result of age and disease-related conditions, and environmental factors. It is observed that environmental intervention is most effective when it involves a multidisciplinary team (Iwarsson, Horstmann, Carlsson, Oswald & Wahl, 2009). Older adults are known to be highly vulnerable to falls because of their physical and mental condition. They require constant observation and attendance, and when they find themselves forced to move on their own, they risk the possibility of falling down and injuring themselves. Older adults are known to have a history falling down or having other risk factors, and there is no guarantee to point to a specific component of the environment that can reduce or eliminate hazards. Because of their vulnerability and injuries accruing out from falls, sometimes these falls can be fatal. Falls are known to cause injuries, and the most serious of these injuries is the injury to the person’s hip. Since they are old and dependent on others for their movement, a hip fracture can confine them to the bed for the rest of their lives. The result of such a serious fall can be traumatic. It puts a lot of pressure on them and their family in addition to the financial and personal costs involved thereafter.
Elders slipping and tripping at homes are common phenomenon, and a number of intervention studies have shown that hazard reduction strategies are effective interventions to prevent falls. Although removal of hazards is an optimum solution, existing structural hazards cannot be readily removed, and so, must be modified to suit the elder’s smooth movement at home (Stevens, Holman & Bennett, 2001). When elders fall, there is every possibility that run high risks of ending with health concerns such as the risk of injury, disability, and death. On an average, close to thirty percent of people over sixty-five fall each year, and for those over seventy-five, the percentage is much higher. “As twenty to thirty percent of those who fall and suffer injuries are prone to reduced mobility and independence, they risk premature death” (Skelton & Todd, 2004). The main cause for falls and slips in elderly adults is the presence or absence of environmental hazards in bathrooms, floor surfaces, lighting, stairways, storage areas, and furniture (Wyman et al., 2007). When it came to bathrooms, the height of the toilet seats could make a big difference between a safe passage and a trying passage. Should the toilet seats be too high, older adults would find it hard to sit on or get off them. Similarly, the presence of toilet, bathtub or shower grab bars are necessary. These grab bars will give these older adults the support they need to get up or sit down without falling or slipping. Taps and other sources should be convenient to use, or old adults might have to use so much force that they lose their balance and fall. Finally, the bathroom floors must be slip-proof. When it comes to environmental hazards in bedrooms and halls, rugs or carpets must be placed in such a way that they don’t trip the elders, rooms should have sufficient lighting for the elders to see clearly, and if there are staircases, there should be sufficient lighting for them to see the steps, and there must be handrails available. All unnecessary furniture must be removed or positioned in such a way that they don’t hamper their movement (Wyman et al., 2007).
It may not be easy for families to identify safety and environmental hazards at home or in nursing homes. Therefore, in the best interest of the elder(s) and their family’s well-being, they could engage healthcare investigators to recommend safety measures. However, environmental health research on hazards at home poses certain unique and ethical challenges for investigators (Resnik & Zeldin, 2008). Some of these include sharing research-related findings with the subjects if the information is accurate, reliable, and medically useful; report incidental findings to subjects if a reasonable person would warn them about the hazards; and most importantly, report suspected abuse or neglect of older adults to appropriate authorities. When investigators finally complete their investigation and decide to warn the subjects about the hazards at home, they must also take steps to help them make effective use of this information, by providing additional counselling or making a referral for remediation or medical treatment (Resnik & Zeldin, 2008). In hindsight, based on the research findings, it is suggested that environmental interventions based on assessments of person-environment needs can be far more effective and efficient than environmental hazard reduction based on checklists.
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Resnik, D., & Zeldin, D. (2008). Environmental Health Research on Hazards in the Home
and the Duty to Warn. Bioethics, 22(4), 209-217. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8519.2008.00638.x
Skelton, D., & Todd, C. (2004). What are the main risk factors for falls among older people
and what are the most effective interventions to prevent these falls?. euro.who.int. Retrieved 8 April 2015, from http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/74700/E82552.pdf
Stevens, M., Holman, C., & Bennett, N. (2001). Preventing Falls in Older People: Impact of
an Intervention to Reduce Environmental Hazards in the Home. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 49(11), 1442-1447. doi:10.1046/j.1532-5415.2001.4911235.x
Wyman, J., Croghan, C., Nachreiner, N., Gross, C., Stock, H., Talley, K., & Monigold, M.
(2007). Effectiveness of Education and Individualized Counseling in Reducing Environmental Hazards in the Homes of Community-Dwelling Older Women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 55(10), 1548-1556. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01315.x
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