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Helpful hints for fall

Happy Autumn! The third season of the year is known for the “Season of Change.” The weather is growing cooler, the days shorter and the air crisper. As we adjust to the changes of Autumn and eventually Winter, it is ideal to take some time to act to ensure safety and wellness of older adults who are aging in place. The weather is not the only cause for concern. Older individuals can have weakened immune systems, making them susceptible to the viruses responsible for cold and flu season. In recognition of the challenges of colder weather, here are a few tips to ensure your loved ones are safe and protected.

– Protect against falls indoors and out – Fall and winter bring several mobility hazards that need to be prepared for. Wet leaves, ice and snow on a driveway or sidewalk can cause dangerous falls. Keep them clear. If it is hard to keep up with the tasks, consider signing up for services to clear debris around a loved one’s home.

– Check the thermostat – The risk of hypothermia does not end inside the home. In fact, older adults can develop the condition even at comfortable temperatures. Experts recommend using 68 degrees Fahrenheit as a minimum temperature, but higher is better.

– Fall and Winter fashion – Do not put the lighter clothing in moth balls just yet, but be sure to have sweaters and jackets ready for the fall temperatures. Layering is the name of the game throughout autumn. For the upcoming winter months this would mean dressing more heavily than you might think necessary, including outerwear and additional layers. Be mindful of footwear, as well. Non-skid boots and shoes with plenty of traction can help prevent slips and falls in wet or frosty weather.

– Prepare for ice and snow – In cooler regions, it’s not unusual to get a preview of the cold, snowy and icy weather during the autumn months. Be sure to make sure shovels, car brushes and salt are accessible in the event of an early storm. Even though bundling up can help them stay warm outside the safest place is in your own home. It is best to accompany your older relatives if they need to go outdoors and to limit outdoor time overall as temperatures drop. This is especially important if your loved one has already had a fall, or is living with reduced mobility as the result of age or incident.

– Ward off seasonal illness – The frequency and severity of sickness escalates as the year comes to a close. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of fall or winter illness. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and clean water for 20 seconds. Wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Older adults can also boost immunity through good hydration, which can benefit the immune system during cold and flu season.

– Checking – If your older relatives do not cook often, food can spoil, posing a health risk. Check the foods in their refrigerator and cabinets to make sure nothing has gone bad, and all packages have been properly resealed. Additionally, make sure they have at least one-week supply of all medications. Additionally, fall is one of the critical times of the year to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries in these devices, and test them to make sure they are in good working order.

While these are all things that you can do, there are often community resources available for family caregivers, including local area agency on the aging programs. With these tips, home caregivers can ensure their loved ones stay safe as the seasons change and have a little more peace of mind through the holiday season.

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