Seniors Staying Safe during the Autumn Months

Seniors going for a fall walk

With the coming of cooler weather there is much to enjoy. The summer heat transitions to nicer autumn days. The leaves change colors, and we ready ourselves for the upcoming holiday season. But like all other seasonal transitions, there's a tradeoff, and with the positive changes come certain challenges to our health and safety. Seniors are at risk around this time of year. Colder temperatures, the presence of influenza, and even fallen leaves can severely threaten seniors’ wellbeing and independence.

Fortunately, by following a few tips and best practices, suggested by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and The Medical Alert Systems for Seniors, seniors can stay safe and enjoy everything the autumn season has to offer. Here are a few tips to share with senior clients.

Get the influenza vaccine. While the flu may not be as detrimental to the health of younger people, seniors are at risk from flu complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. These complications can result in serious illness, hospitalization, and even death. Adding to this, the flu can also worsen pre-existing conditions. Seniors should talk to talk to a physician or other healthcare professional about the most appropriate option.

Reduce the risk of influenza. In addition to vaccination, it's best to take additional steps toward reducing the risk of the flu:

  • Avoid contact with those who are sick.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap frequently throughout the day, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces that are likely to be contaminated.
  • Improve the immune system through regular exercise (with physician approval).

Reduce fire risk. As the temperature falls, it's common to start using space heaters or fireplaces to warm up the home. Seniors should ensure that flammable objects are kept far away from these types of appliances. It's also important to inspect fire extinguishers to ensure they are in working condition, and that batteries are replaced in smoke detectors.

Keep warm. While on the subject of dropping temperatures, it's imperative that seniors protect themselves from the cold. Although autumn doesn't present the same bitter weather as winter, there's still a palpable risk. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that hypothermia can develop rather quickly after a person is exposed to relatively mild cold temperatures. When seniors venture outside during the crisp fall months, it's important to dress in layers of loose-fitting clothing.

Clear away the leaves. Though certainly pleasing to the eye, fallen leaves can easily cause seniors to slip and fall. They should be raked away from the driveway and sidewalks. This is especially important once they become slippery and soggy from the rain.


References

Medical Alert System Reviews. "5 Autumn Safety Tips for Seniors" by Susie Slack. Web. 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "CDC Says ‘Take 3’ Actions to Fight the Flu." Web. 2018.