Burns and Scalds

Accidents can happen to anyone, but they become a major concern for those who are frail, disabled, confused, or otherwise impaired. Burns and scalds may happen as the result of carelessness, weakness, poor eyesight, poor judgement, inattention, and any number of things. For example, the coffee pot or pan of boiling water may be too heavy for them to handle. They may doze off while smoking a cigarette, causing a burn to the skin or catching their clothes on fire. They may lose their balance, causing hot liquids to spill or be knocked off the stove or table. I’m sure you can think of many other causes.

Here are some suggestions to lessen the risks:

Use small appliances. They’ll be lighter in weight and easier to handle.

Plug appliances directly into an outlet, not an extension cord due to the possibility of tripping, causing hot liquid or food to spill.

Set the hot water heater to a temperature at or below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Avoid clothes with long, loose-fitting sleeves when cooking.

Check the oven control knobs to be sure they’re clearly and correctly labeled, easy to grasp, and in good working order. You might want to consider purchasing an automatic shut-off switch for the stove.

Install non-slip grips on handles of pots and pans.

Don’t place hot liquids or foods at the edge of a counter or table. Move them inward so they can’t be accidentally knocked off.

Check their bath water or shower before they get in to be sure it’s not too hot. Their reaction time and/or sense of touch may be impaired.

Make it a rule there’s no smoking in bed or after taking medications that could cause drowsiness.

Safety concerns go beyond the physical dangers.  You may be interested to read about Scams under the category “Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!”

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Con artists are adept at identifying people who will be most vulnerable to their tactics. What makes people, especially the elderly, easy targets for scams?   Here are some common reasons according to the FBI:

Seniors are apt to have a ‘nest egg,’ own their home, and have excellent credit, making them attractive to con artists.

People who grew up in the 30s, 40s, and 50s were raised to be polite and trusting, making them less likely to hang up the phone or shut the door on a stranger.

Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud; they’re ashamed, fearful of retaliation, and don’t know where to turn.

It may take weeks or months for them to realize they’ve been swindled.  By then their memory of specific details has faded; this makes them poor witnesses.

As people struggle with health issues, they long for a higher quality of life.  This makes them susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer and anti-aging properties, etc. 

~ www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors

Sadly, religious scams and fraudulent charities rely on tactics using guilt and fear to influence their victims.  The elderly or those facing a terminal illness will often feel a need to “make amends” at this point in their life and find comfort in doing “good works.”  In addition, they may not be able to think clearly/logically due to medications, dementia, emotional issues and more, which makes them prime targets.

It’s not just the elderly who are at risk.  Those who rely on the internet for information and entertainment may fall victim as well.  Sometimes boredom clouds their thinking causing better judgment to fly out the window.  There is also a level of excitement and accomplishment in making an independent decision.  Scammers rely on this.  The longer con artists have their attention, the more apt they will fall into the trap.

Phone calls and door-to-door salesmen can be a welcome distraction to those who don’t have as much opportunity for social interaction.  Your loved one may enjoy the attention they’re getting from this person, happily dragging out the conversation.  Now that they’ve taken this person’s time plus their own, they’re more apt to be agreeable to buying something or making a donation to a “good cause.”

Can you identify other reasons the person you’re caring for may fall victim to a scam?  Would he/she be willing to tell you about it, if it happened?

What Can be Done to Protect Them from Scams?

Talk openly about the possibilities with them.  Give examples of innocent people who have been scammed, and voice your specific concerns with them.

Explain that it’s okay to hang up the phone or shut the door on unsolicited callers. Try a role playing exercise with them so they have practice.

Do not show anger, or shame them, if they do become a victim.  This will only discourage them from confiding to you in the future.

Add their phone number to the national Do Not Call list.

Place a No Soliciting sign at the front door.

Make a point to have daily conversations with them about their day.  Ask specific questions about phone calls, people coming to the door, or internet sites they visited.

Be alert to unexpected deliveries or services.

Monitor their credit card statements and/or bank account.

Do not allow home health aides to have access to your family member’s  credit cards or bank account.  Make it clear to them that they must notify you if they need cash for a purchase, and not to be asking your loved one for it.

Report suspected scams and fraud attempts to the authorities immediately.

Visit the post “Safety: It’s More than You Think” to learn more about the various aspects of maintaining a safe environment.

Safety: It’s More Than You Think


Safety, as a topic, is much broader than you might think.  If you’re like me, safety concerns bring to mind things like tripping hazards, falls, burns, cuts, choking, etc.  The definition below explains how it encompasses so much more.

  • “…the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be considered non-desirable. Safety can also be defined to be the control of recognized hazards to achieve an acceptable level of risk. This can take the form of being protected from the event or from exposure to something that causes health or economical losses…”                ~Wikipedia  

    How can we possibly protect our family member from all these dangers?  It’s a monumental task, but there are steps we can take to reduce the risks:

    1.  Educate ourselves about the various types of threats 

    Dangers can come into our lives in many ways:  mail, phone, door, internet, on the street, sales people, strangers, evangelists, and even family and friends.  We don’t want to be overly fearful, but recognizing the possibilities can be key to identifying and resolving the issues.

    2.  Learn to recognize the signs 

    We should be alert to signals such as: changes in attitude, behavior, billing statements, bank balances, physical appearance, mental state, and disappearance of valuables.

    3.  Know what action to take 

    You are not alone.  Enlist the aid of others; there’s strength in numbers.   Learn who to notify in authority, what agencies can help, and what immediate actions may be necessary.


    We’ll tackle these issues in depth with the following topics of upcoming posts:

  • Home Safety
    • In and around their residence
  • Abuse
    • Physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, psychological
  • Health Fraud
    • Medications, false billings, false diagnoses
  • Scams
    • Internet, door to door, phone
  • Neglect
    • Basic needs, special accommodations
  • Financial Exploitation
    • Identity theft, credit card abuse, banking

and more…

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