Sept. 12 is National Grandparents Day: Help Keep Them Safe

Get family involved! Enlisting their grandchildren can be a great way to help older adults receive important reminders about avoiding injuries. Kids can help check for household hazards and look to see that there are smoke alarms. Older kids and teens can help test alarms and help you with other safety checks and tasks. A few things to remember:

  • Check the home for tripping hazards. If there are small rugs, they can be taped down to avoid slipping.
  • Are all the exits clear of furniture and clutter? Would it be easy to get out of the home if the smoke alarm or CO detector goes off?
  • Are night lights needed  in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways? Make sure there is enough light at the top of stairs.
  • Are stair handrails firm?
  • Does the bathroom need grab bars, a non-slip mat, a shower seat?
  • Are there smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on each level and outside the bedroom? Remember that smoke alarms should be replaced every ten years and CO alarms every seven years.
  • Test the smoke alarms (including hard-wired ones). Are they working, and just as importantly, can everyone in the home hear the alarms? Basic smoke alarms may be difficult to hear because of their high pitched sound. If your ‘grand’ can’t hear the alarm from the next room, consider a Strobe Alarm which uses an extra bright light, or a Shaker Alarm that uses a vibrating device to shake a bed to awaken someone who wouldn’t hear the alarm without hearing aids.
  • Try this tip from our 2020 Rogoff Scholarship winner: Add a reminder to family members’ calendars to regularly change each alarm’s battery.
  • When was the last time the furnace and chimney were checked or cleaned? You may need to call to schedule a service or cleaning.

Rogoff Scholarship Winner Brings Safety Home

Lauren Ritchie of Lancaster NY, the first winner of the Arlayne & Stephen D. Rogoff Scholarship, learned to prevent injuries through a very personal experience: caring for her beloved grandmother.

The Rogoff Scholarship application requires an essay outlining the candidate’s personal experience with a preventable injury or in-home danger and their plans to generate awareness or educate others on such risks. In her essay, Ritchie wrote of her close relationship with her grandmother, “my first true friend.”  When a near-fatal infection and multiple surgeries left her grandmother needing assistance, prone to falls, and vulnerable to injuries in her own home, “She became more dependent on me and our roles were reversed.”

The steps that Ritchie and her family took to protect her grandmother make a good checklist for anyone: They reviewed her home for tripping hazards and removed them, placed night lights, and bought grab bars, non-slip mat, and a shower seat for the bathroom. They installed smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in main areas and the bedroom, and, crucially, put reminders in family member’s calendars to regularly change each detector’s battery.

With these devices and prevention measures in place, Ritchie wrote, “I began to see her life return to normal again.” Now 91, her grandmother continues to live independently.

Ritchie plans to continue to spread awareness of preventable injuries as a Physician Assistant specializing in gerontology.

The Arlayne & Stephen D. Rogoff Scholarship was established by their children — Scott, Brett and Robyn — along with their families and the Prevention 1st Board of Directors.  Mr. Rogoff was a tremendous friend to Prevention 1st, and co-founded the organization’s first major fund raiser, a Golf Tournament in 2013. The $1,000 scholarships are awarded to recipients who best demonstrate Stephen’s empathetic and actionable character. For more information contact info@prevention1st.og.