Old age is one of the most trying times in a man’s life. And no one understands the experience better than seniors themselves. Constant muscle pains, generalized fatigue, and poor memory are only a few of the many nasty experiences that accompany old age. And these problems can have far-reaching implications on the comfort and security of seniors.
Imagine a case of seniors leaving the faucet on. The kind of water damage that might ensue is simply unimaginable. Not to mention lots of safety concerns such as electrocution and drowning. And since memory loss is part and parcel of their aging years, it is not a question of “if” but rather “when” your aging parent will leave their faucets on.
You don’t want it to happen to them any day, and certainly not when they are alone at home or when it happens in the dead of night. Fortunately, though we can help seniors, especially those that live alone to overcome the problem of leaving faucets on. Or at least, we can help them avoid the unpleasant consequences that could result thereof. And that shall be the focus of this post, so read on and be informed.
What Causes The Tendency For The Elderly To Leave Faucets On?
We can group the causes into two broad categories namely: Physical causes and Mental causes.
As already been mentioned, old age is characterized by generalized weakness of the body. This is because as one grows old, their muscles become weaker and less flexible while their bones shrink.
So, what is the connection here? Well, we all know how tight some tap heads can be. This could result from a plumber’s workmanship or rust accumulating in the faucet fixtures. The result? A stubborn faucet head that becomes difficult for the elderly to close.
Mental and Neurological Causes:
These are causes that result from one form of neurological or mental malfunction. Dementia is one of the most common mental problems associated with the elderly. Basically, it refers to a decline in the mental functions of an individual, and up to 80% is caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is caused by damage to various brain cells resulting in the impaired ability of such cells to communicate with one another.
Memory loss is the main symptom of dementia. Aside from that, there may be impairment in language and communication, diminished attention span and poor focus, poor visual perception and poor judgment.
Of special interest in our case is memory loss. It is believed that dementia especially causes problems related to short-term memory. So, it is possible to visualize a situation where your granny is fetching water in the kitchen but is distracted with a loud bang outside. As they go to check it out, they realize the thud was caused by a fall of one of the oldest trees in the backyard. And just like that, they are taken by the new distraction, so much as to forget they were actually fetching water.
Memory might only come back when the sink has overflown and the entire floor is awash with tap water. It is important to remember that in more severe cases, there would be no need for a distraction. Instead, the memory of seniors may continually play havoc on them so much that they find themselves completely detached from their surroundings. As a result, they would not even happen to notice the faucet is running in the first place.
Also, one serious effect of dementia that complicates the inability of elders to coordinate their activities is a poor vision. We expect all faucets to give out some sound as long as they are running. But what happens when the sound is imperceptible? In such cases, seniors would rely on their vision to see to it that the faucet is not dripping. But since dementia has already destroyed their inability to see clearly, they might just assume everything is alright. Unknown to them, the faucet could be dripping softly and as expected, it may not be long before they have to deal with a flooded house.
As the most common cause of dementia, it is important for us to understand some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It is even more important to underscore the fact that Alzheimer’s disease is not a preserve of the elderly. Though it is more common among people aged 65 and over, the disease can attack virtually anyone. However, since it is a progressive disease, its symptoms worsen as the victim grows older. Apart from memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease is also associated with impaired speech, poor limb coordination, and insensibility to one’s environment. If its symptoms are not managed with the urgency they deserve [NOTE the disease has no cure], then further complications such as severe disorientation of time and place, unfounded suspicions and breathing & swallowing difficulties may ensue.
What Often Results From Leaving Faucets On?
Your guess is as good as mine – a flooded house and a couple of wasted hours trying to clear the mess. But is that all there is to it? No. When seniors leave faucets on and the house is filled with water, think of what could happen if the water soaks items such as their clothing, furniture or crucial documents.
A worst-case scenario would be that the flooding water happens to get in contact with open electric sockets or naked cables. You could be looking at possible electrocution here. And if they happen to have left the faucet on at night, they could drown in their sleep – a lesser painful death than electrocution, but death all the same.
But even when we are lucky to survive all the above threats, one thing is for sure – water bills will never be the same. So whichever way you look at it, water left open carries with it direct and indirect consequences. This is why it is important that we help our seniors deal with this problem. But what are some of the solutions? Read on to find out.
Does Insurance Cover It?
The only insurance cover closely connected with water damage is the Water Damage Insurance. However, like any other insurance policy, the risks covered are sudden and accidental. This insurance does not cover acts of negligence such as leaving faucets on.
Therefore, the only way out of a possible water damage situation is to have the faucets maintained regularly by a licensed plumber.
However, when it comes to seniors leaving taps on, more measures are required in addition to regular maintenance of plumbing fixtures. The following sections will discuss these measures in detail.
New Technologies For Seniors Leaving Faucets On: Great Gadgets For Seniors Who Leave Water On
1. Surveillance Cameras
Well, this would undoubtedly be our first mention here. A surveillance camera would work wonders where seniors are under the care of caregivers. Surveillance cameras are installed in the bathrooms, sinks and other areas within the house that have faucets. This way, the caregivers are able to monitor the events in the house, albeit from a distance. They will then easily detect any flowing taps and have them closed before much water wastage can occur. Perhaps one other advantage of surveillance cameras is that in addition to monitoring water usage, they can also be used to monitor any security threats within the house such as burglars, serpents and rodents….things that your elder may not easily detect due to their already-compromised vision.
This camera features up to 1080p-full HD that you can stream live and directly to your smartphone and has a night vision of up to thirty feet away. The camera can be synced with other home automation technologies such as Alexa and Smart-Sound Recognition.
The Smart-Sound Recognition technology is especially instrumental in our case here as it will enable you to pick the sound of flowing faucets from a mix of sounds relayed by the camera. The camera also works with Wi-Fi, though the most recent version only accommodates 2.4 GHz.
Check this example of surveillance camera on Amazon.
2. Touchless Faucets
Also known as automatic faucets, hands-free faucets, motion-sensing faucets or electronic faucets, these are basically faucets that operate by a means of proximity sensors as well as mechanisms that allow their valves to open. The way they work is that as long as a hand is within close proximity to the faucets, the sensors will detect and relay information to the valves which then open to allow water to flow. As soon as the hands get out of range, the valves automatically shut. With automatic faucets, seniors would never have to worry about leaving their faucets on as in most cases, they will not even come in contact with them in the first place. The only thing to take care of here is the source of power. Most of these motion-sensing faucets are battery-powered, which means you will have to ensure the batteries are replaced in good time.
This is one of Amazon’s best-selling touchless faucets out there. One of the product’s major selling points is its ease of installation on any standard faucet. The procedure does not require any plumbing experience and all the essential installation tools are included in the package.
With sensors designed by the renowned Sensor-Technology Experts, this touchless faucet effectively enables seniors to save water when they do not need it. Plus, it is a hygienic way of dispensing water from the faucets as seniors will not have to get their dirty hands in contact with the faucet.
Check this example of touchless faucet on Amazon.
3. Wi-Fi Enabled Faucets
Wi-Fi enabled faucets work wonders too and the mechanism is no different from any device that uses a Wi-Fi. Basically, all the seniors need is a stable internet connection. As long as the faucets are within the hotspot, seniors can perform all manner of functions such as adjusting the temperature of water to their desired warmth. When synced with home automation technologies such as Amazon Alexa, all you have to do is talk to it and the function requested is performed. For example, you can simply say; “Alexa, turn the shower on”; “Alexa, turn the shower off”; or “Alexa, turn the shower to 30 degrees”….among other customized functions.
This product uses both Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices and Delta Touch2O Technology faucets. It can turn the water on and off, create customized commands to pour specific amounts, and even warm-up using your voice-enabled device. Simply say, “Ask Delta to fill coffee pot” or “Ask Delta to fill dog bowl.”
It’s important to emphasize that Delta faucets with DIAMOND Seal Technology perform like new for life with a patented design which reduces leak points, is less hassle to install and lasts twice as long as the industry standard.
Check this example of Wi-Fi Enabled faucet on Amazon.
This product doesn’t operate a faucet, but a shower, nevertheless, it uses the same principle. It uses Amazon Alexa to control various functionalities of the shower. Seniors only have to ask Alexa to turn the shower on, off, into a specific temperature among other functions. They can simply ask Alexa to turn “on/off the shower” or “turn it to a specific temperature”.
Even better, seniors can use it to control the flow of water from individual outlets, simply by mentioning names assigned to respective icons. Now, isn’t this voice control technology also an amazing way for seniors to kill boredom when they are alone at home? The only drawback to using this product is that voice technology is only available in English.
Check this example of Wi-Fi Enabled shower on Amazon.
The last technology on our list details faucets that turn on by stepping on a sensor that is often mounted at the base of their counters. So, elders would simply come close to the tap, step on the counter and use the water as long as their feet are atop the counter. Water stops flowing a few seconds after detaching their feet from the sensor. Much like the touchless faucets, foot-activated faucets only rely on sensory proximity. They are not only ideal for saving water, but also help with sanitation since seniors do not have to pass the mess on their hands onto the faucets.
This is one of the foot-activated sensors that activate the water as soon as there is foot contact with the sensor built in the counter.
Check this example of foot-activated faucet on Amazon.
The Bottom Line
The life of a senior is marked with numerous challenges. Memory loss is one among those and when their memory lapses, there is no telling how much negligent they can get.
Leaving faucets on is a terrible thing to do and while we cannot always stop this from happening, we can at least empower our seniors with some tech gadgets to help them minimize these unpleasant occurrences. Visit our post for more information on this topic or if you wish to check out some of the latest seniors-friendly gadgets.
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