With its colorful leaves, brisk temperatures, and the commencement of the holiday season, autumn is often proclaimed to be the best season of the year. However, that doesn’t mean that fall is all pretty pumpkins and vibrant leaves. Several serious health and safety issues crop up at this time of year. To keep yourself and your family in good spirits all season long, check out the autumn safety tips for seniors we’ve listed below.
Autumn Safety Tips for Seniors
Get the flu shot.
Flu season is upon us, and according to the CDC, the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine. The flu causes wide-ranging symptoms that often upset the nose, throat, and lungs and may lead to serious complications including pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and even multi-organ failure or sepsis (a lethal response to infection). Since 2010, it has been estimated that between 12,000 and 56,000 flu-related deaths occur each year (source). Why take the risk? Ask your doctor or pharmacist for the flu shot to protect yourself and the people around you from this dangerous illness.
Wash your hands.
Washing your hands seems so simple and ordinary that you might be tempted to overlook it or underestimate its importance. In fact, the CDC states that keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid illness and prevent spreading germs to other people (source). To ensure you thoroughly clean your hands, use warm water and soap to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Stay warm when the temperatures drop.
As the temperature dips into dangerous levels, you’ll want to stay warm and toasty in your home. As you do so, however, remember to keep these home-related autumn safety tips for seniors in mind:
- If using a space heater, be sure to leave at least three feet of empty space around it.
- If you have a fireplace, be sure to have it cleaned and inspected each year.
- Schedule regular maintenance for your heating system.
- In case your power goes out, have a back-up plan for staying warm.
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and change their batteries.
- Be cautious with candles. Don’t leave them burning when you leave the house or go to sleep, and keep them away from your pets and grandchildren.
- If using an electrical blanket, check to be sure it’s in good condition before use.
Clear away the leaves.
The falling leaves are beautiful, of course, but they also cause a myriad of problems, especially when they combine with rain. To ensure your body and your home stay in good fitness, follow these tips:
- Be sure to wear shoes that fit you properly and have friction so that you don’t slip on slick sidewalks.
- If needed, use an assistive device so that you can walk confidently and comfortably.
- Walk in maintained outdoor spaces, where the leaves have been cleared away.
- Since raking leaves can be stressful on the body, try hiring a neighborhood kid or your grandchildren for the job. Also, hire someone to clean out your gutters and drain pipes.
Stay safe on your feet.
Falls are always a serious threat to seniors, but they become more likely in the fall (appropriately, considering the name of the season). First, as we mentioned above, the fallen leaves can make sidewalks and steps more treacherous, especially when they’re wet and slick. Second, it gets dark outside earlier, which can make it difficult to see tripping hazards. Stay alert and walk with care.
As we reach the peak of the season, keep these autumn safety tips for seniors in mind. Most apply to winter as well, so don’t let down your guard as the seasons change.
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