As we transition into autumn, and eventually into more wintry weather, it’s the perfect time to consider the safety, health, and well-being of older adults who are aging in the place they call home…especially if they are living alone.
If you’re a family caregiver assisting an aging senior, now is the time to address all potential safety hazards, health challenges and home maintenance issues your loved one may face as they prepare for this season of change.
Inspect the HVAC system. Cold temperatures can be difficult for the elderly. Schedule a regular maintenance check for your parents’ home heating system to confirm it’s in good working order. If their home has a fireplace, be sure to also have chimneys inspected and cleaned to prevent dangers such as flue fires.
Clean up the leaves. While colorful leaves are part of the beauty of autumn in many regions, they can present safety hazards. When wet, leaves become slippery and pose a fall risk. And piles of leaves can hide potentially dangerous obstacles. Be sure to remove them regularly from porches, sidewalks and key walkways for older adults.
One of the biggest safety hazards that older individuals face is the risk of slipping and falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one in four older adults aged 65 and older will fall. This represents 29 million falls, 3 million emergency visits, 800,000 hospitalizations, and 28,000 deaths.
Don’t forget Daylight Saving Time. On Sunday, November 3, most Americans will set their clocks back one hour as daylight saving time comes to an end. As you are turning back your clocks, use this time to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries as needed to ensure they’re working properly.
Discuss driving at night. The days are getting shorter and it’s starting to get dark earlier. Driving after dark also can mean reduced visibility. Check-in with your loved one to make sure they are still comfortable with driving at night. If they are not, offer alternative means to get them where they need to be before the sun goes down. Many home care agencies like FirstLight offer transportation services to and from appointments and assist with errands, such as grocery shopping.
Get a flu shot. The flu vaccine is especially important for older adults who are more susceptible to catching the flu virus. Doctors say now is the time to get a flu shot as we could be in for a nasty flu season this year. The frequency and severity of sicknesses escalate as the year ends, so the sooner, the better.
Take advantage of the harvest. Many healthy – and delicious – fruits and vegetables are center stage this time of year. Encourage your elderly loved one to add seasonal produce such as beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, cranberries, eggplant and kale to their diet. These foods can help manage diabetes, contribute to heart health and promote a healthy immune system.
As temperatures drop and the seasons’ change, let FirstLight Home Care help. Our team of non-medical, in-home senior caregivers can provide companion and personal care services to make it possible for you to take a little respite while your loved one stays safe, healthy and steers clear of potential fall and winter hazards.
We are proud to CHAMPION the family caregiver, offering empathy, advice, and support for those who provide countless hours of care to their loved ones. At FirstLight Home Care we want to provide a helping hand, relieve some of the stress that comes with caregiving and give you back a few hours in your overwhelmingly busy day.
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