Prepare and Prevent: A Health and Safety Checklist for Seniors

Emergency physicians offer suggestions for seniors to reduce illness or injury risks, and how to plan ahead to make an ER visit, if you need one, a little less stressful.

Take steps to protect your health. Exercise, take vitamins and maintain a healthy diet. Keep your prescriptions current and don’t skip those annual check-ups.

Reduce risk of falling. Falls account for up to 30 percent of emergency visits among seniors. Fortunately, many falls can be prevented. Wear comfortable shoes, fall-proof your home, know the fall-related risks of certain illnesses. For example, Parkinson’s Alzheimer’s or stroke could each lead to an unbalanced gait, dizziness, weakness or nausea, any of which could cause a fall. Have a plan in case you do fall; know who to call, whether it’s 9-1-1, a relative or friend. Consider wearing a medical alert device that can call automatically in the event of an emergency.

Prepare for an emergency. Write down your health history and keep it in an accessible place. This should include medications or vitamins that you take, allergies, physician contact information, copies of recent relevant medical tests, such as an electrocardiogram or EKG.

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