The sun is finally bidding adieu and heading off to bed earlier these days. The temperature is dropping, leaves are falling from trees, and everyone is getting ready for the colder months ahead.
Autumn is a busy time of the year. If you’re a senior, making sure you’re taking care of your health and safety is important. You might be busy with work and family commitments, but please do not put off getting ready for this season, because early preparation is the key to staying safe.
While it’s a great time to enjoy the cooler fall weather, here are ten things that all of us, especially older adults, can do to ensure you stay healthy and safe during this time of the year.
Fall weather is meant for being cozy- not too hot, not too cold and many people prefer to stay at home. You need to take extra steps to make sure that you have a safe physical environment in your home.
This includes evaluating the condition of your home and checking for possible accidents and health hazards, such as uncomfortable temperatures, slippery flooring, poor lighting, and clutter.
Before the temperature drops, schedule your routine heating system maintenance to make sure that it is working properly.
If you are using a portable heater, ensure that it is hooked properly into an outlet. Avoid utilizing extension cords and/or any outlets or wiring that aren’t in good shape, to lower the risk of fires and accidental falls.
Now is the best time to get your fireplace ready too- make sure to get your chimney inspected and cleaned, to minimize the risk of flue fires. Install a fireplace plug to prevent drafts or chilly air from entering your home via the fireplace.
Check that the windows and doors are closed and sealed to prevent outside drafts. To keep the heat inside and the chilly weather outside, replace windows and doors that are no longer in optimal condition.
Consider installing a programmable thermostat to assist in keeping you warm during the fall season. Check if your thermostat is precise and always make sure that you have fresh batteries handy.
Some smart thermostat models allow you to automatically program the temperature at various times to be more cost-effective. For instance, you can set the temperature to be warmer at night and cooler during the day because it is often colder at night.
Poor lighting is a significant factor in falling accidents in the elderly. Seniors will depend increasingly on artificial light inside the home when the days get darker in the fall. Be prepared with extra candles, batteries, and light bulbs. If you use candles, make sure to always be there when the candles are burning and to never leave them unattended.
Installing smart lights in your house is a good idea because they automatically switch on when they detect movement. It is also advisable to install nightlights on the stairs and along the corridors leading to the bathroom to help with bathroom errands, especially at night-time.
Falls are preventable and a big number of slips can be prevented when you simply get rid of clutter in your space.
Now that summer is officially over, It’s time to store all of the summer-related objects in the back of your garage or shed. Check the things that you might need for fall and winter and keep them in an accessible location- rakes, shovels, snowblowers, and ice scrapers.
Use anti-slip mats to avoid slipping and falling on wet flooring inside your house.
Seniors should stay inside when the weather turns chilly and the roads and walkways become icy. However, if you must go outside, ensure the necessary preparations have been taken to guarantee that all walkways and ramps around your home are dry.
Assistive tools such as grab bars, handrails, and poles placed on key areas in your home and your doorways can provide dependable balance support all year-round.
Make sure to have salt, car brushes, heating coils, tarps/protective covers, and shovels available in case of an early ice storm, especially if you live in a cooler region, where this is quite common.
You will get more out of your appliances if you regularly maintain them.
If you use a stove and/or oven, check that it’s in working order, given that the weather will be cooler and you will probably be using it more to cook and heat meals – and of course, you have to be ready to cook up a storm for Thanksgiving and Christmas!
You should also check your refrigerator and/or cooler to ensure that you can store your food and/or leftovers properly and safely.
Check that your washing machine and dryer don’t have any issues (like broken doors or malfunctioning drain pipes)- you will be bringing out the autumn clothes and heavy blankets and might need to rewash them to get them ready for the season.
If you use accessibility devices such as stairlifts, VPLs, or elevators, now would be a great time to book them for preventive maintenance checks- especially if these devices are placed outdoors. The stairs will be extra slippery and dangerous during wet weather, so we recommend using your stairlift and porch lift.
Since you will be using your heating devices and fireplace more often during this season, check the condition of your safety devices, such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers, so you can rest assured that they are functioning well and ready in case of an emergency.
Furthermore, now is an excellent time to check that backup generators and flashlights are in good working condition- which are necessary in case there’s a sudden power outage and you don’t want to be left in the cold and the dark.
The autumn months are all about layering. Don’t store your lighter clothing just yet, but wear them underneath your sweaters and jackets.
You might be enjoying the cooler weather and breeze now, but please make sure that you are properly attired when you go out – remember that older adults are more prone to hypothermia.
Make sure you are prepared for the upcoming months with lots of layered, loose-fitting clothing, mittens, and a hat. Get rid of any outdated or worn-out items and replace them with fresh ones.
Store enough blankets around the house, as they can keep you warm and cozy, especially on chilly nights.
When it comes to your footwear, it is best to use non-skid boots and shoes with lots of traction in wet and rainy conditions.
Illnesses become more frequent and more severe during the cold season.
Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is one of the best ways to keep yourself healthy. The Centers for Disease Control advise hand washing for 20 seconds under clean, flowing water while using soap. Wet, scrub, lather, rinse, and dry.
In the absence of soap and water, you can use hand sanitizers, alcohol, antibacterial wet wipes, etc.
Keep yourself hydrated- though you may feel less thirsty during the cold season, you still need to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Remind yourself to take regular sips of water, every hour or half hour.
Ward off serious cases of flu by getting the annual flu vaccine- and encourage your family members to get their vaccination too, especially if they are more advanced in age. There are two flu vaccine choices for people over 65: a high-dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine- these are preferred over the regular flu shot because they offer a higher immune response for seniors.
The CDC estimates that individuals aged 65 and older account for 70–85% of flu-related deaths, and 50–70% of hospitalizations due to flu complications.
The flu vaccine is especially important because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as a flu vaccine can reduce the severity of infection.
When temperatures dip below freezing, problems caused by clogged gutters might get worse. If ignored, this may result in the formation of ice dams brought on by frozen water, which might ultimately cause broken gutters and significant roofing issues. Cleaning out the leaves, water, and other debris from the gutters can be a very helpful preventative measure.
Hoses and spigots, like gutters, can also become dangerous if water is allowed to pool and freeze. Draining all water well in advance of the incoming cold weather will help you avoid the hassle of frozen and burst pipes.
Falling leaves symbolize autumn- they are part of the season’s charm and even serve as the backdrop for several romantic movies.
However, they can also be a safety threat! They may become slick when wet and can cause accidental falls. Additionally, a leaf pile may conceal a harmful obstruction, like rocks, a forgotten rake, or a shovel.
Make time for clearing your yard, porches, sidewalks, walkways, and all pathways to your home of any leaves, trash, sticks, or other objects that could endanger everyone, especially a senior individual.
It is also a great idea to install handrails and non-skid surfaces on your outdoor stairs and ramps. If anyone in your home has mobility challenges, consider installing a vertical porch lift (VPL) to eliminate the need to navigate slippery outdoor stairs.
Get your vehicle ready for the colder season- Let your mechanic take a look at your vehicle to ensure that things like the brake pads, oil, and defrost systems are all in functioning condition, which can help avoid accidents or breakdowns.
If you live in a region where it starts to snow around this time, make sure to change your tires. Winter tires can keep you safe during bad weather because they are better equipped to navigate over thick snow, ice, and slippery roads.
If you suffer from poor eyesight, take extra precautionary measures because night starts falling earlier during this season. If going out is necessary, think about getting in touch with a home care organization for a qualified caregiver who can provide transportation, or have a younger family member or friend chauffer you.
You might prefer to stay inside as the weather gets colder, which minimizes your social interactions. Remember that staying in touch with family and friends is crucial for your safety and overall wellness.
Regularly interacting with others promotes better mental health, lowers your risk of dementia, promotes a sense of safety, belonging, and security, and allows you to confide in others and lets them confide in you.
Don’t worry, with the availability of modern technology, all you have to do is pick up the phone, and open your tablet, laptop, or computer, to stay social. Keep in touch by using FaceTime or video calls. Be sure to check on your friends and family members, to keep them from feeling lonely.
There are many ways to stay active and involved during the fall season. The trick is to incorporate them into your everyday living simply and you will feel amazing!
Take time to do mild to moderate exercises, such as yoga, walking, or stretching- to lessen your risk of falling ill during these colder months. Exercise also promotes strong muscles and healthy joints, which helps reduce the likelihood of falling.
Get adequate sleep and eat right- have your fill of seasonal bounties like sweet potatoes, broccoli, pumpkin, and cranberries since they are fresher during this season. They are healthy and delicious too!
If you are unable to prepare meals, hire a qualified caregiver to prepare healthy and nutritious meals or subscribe to healthy meal delivery services.
Take advantage of the season’s harvest
As mentioned above, it is the time of year for harvesting and eating. The autumn season is full of delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables that provide us with the necessary vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy. These healthy snacks can be found in abundance in grocery stores, supermarkets, or farmers’ markets.
Seasonal produce like beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, cranberries, eggplant, and kale can support heart health, diabetes management, and immune system health.
Autumn is a very special time of year- all the bright colors; the crisp, fresh air; and the promise of new things to come. While this is a happy time of year, let’s not forget to do everything we can to stay healthy and safe.
Ultimately, staying healthy and safe during any season depends largely on how prepared you are for the change in weather. Make sure to take every precaution when going outside and while carrying out your daily routine.
There’s an old saying that in life, safety is the greatest blessing and health is the greatest wealth.
Don’t get tired of a healthy lifestyle– it can be as engaging, fun, and exciting, and keeping yourself healthy and safe means that you get to enjoy more things in life. Remember this quote: Safety is the greatest blessing and health is the greatest wealth.
Enjoy this fleeting season!
Home2stay has been serving the Vancouver and Lower Mainland region for almost a decade- and in every season! Do you want to ensure that your home is safe for the coming cool and wet months? Call us for a customized quote- it’s free!