Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year, but the change of seasons also poses potential health and safety hazards for older adults, especially those who live alone. Use the following tips to prepare for the colder months ahead and keep the senior in your life safe this fall:
Stay warm in colder temperatures
Older adults typically have more difficulty regulating body temperature than younger people. Even a slight drop in temperature can cause older adults to lose body heat rapidly and face the risk of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a major senior health hazard that occurs when one’s internal temperature drops below 95 degrees, causing severe health problems. While hypothermia is often caused by being outside in cold weather, older adults can also develop hypothermia in a home that’s too cold. To prevent hypothermia, encourage your loved one to dress warmly in the fall and winter, even on days when they stay indoors. If your senior lives alone, have a professional check their heating systems before winter arrives.
Colorful fall foliage may be beautiful on trees, but leaves fall on the ground can be a dangerous hazard for older adults. Clear all walkways of dead leaves, which become very slippery when it rains. Another way to prevent falls is by ensuring your loved one has the right footwear for the season. Make sure they have shoes that fit properly and have plenty of traction to prevent slips and falls in wet or frosty weather.
Get ready for flu season
Fall marks the beginning of flu season, and unfortunately, older adults have a much higher risk of serious health complications after contracting influenza. As we age, our immune systems get weaker, making older adults more susceptible to life-threatening complications from the flu. It’s estimated that older adults over the age of 65 account for 70 to 85 percent of flu-related deaths each year in the United States. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for flu season. Encourage your older loved one to wash his or her hands frequently with warm, soapy water for at least 30 seconds to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. It’s also important to eat healthy foods and get plenty of sleep to help strengthen the immune system. If recommended by their doctor, seniors should also consider getting a seasonal flu vaccine.
Be prepared for emergencies
As winter draws nearer, now is the time to prepare for weather emergencies. If your loved one lives at home, make sure they have emergency supplies on hand including flashlights, non-perishable food, water, extra blankets, and a first aid kit in case a storm causes a power outage. Establish a communication plan with your family to ensure there’s always someone to check on elderly loved ones living alone in case of an emergency.
If you’re worried about the safety of an older loved one living alone this fall, consider the benefits of moving to a retirement community. Retirement communities are often a safer living option compared to the typical home environment because they are specially designed with safety and security features to accommodate the health and mobility needs of older adults. With dedicated, skilled caregivers and emergency assistance available around the clock, seniors and their families can rest assured knowing that help is always available in the retirement community.