Autumn is here! While the rain and clouds today make us think of fall, there is still plenty of time to enjoy some fresh air and take some moments to step outside. It is also the perfect time to think about the safety and wellness of older loved ones. Here are a few tips that will help you prepare yourself – and your loved one – for the change in weather.
- Keep COVID and FLU away. While we’ve been extra careful to prevent the spread of COVID, we also want to be sure we’re ready for flu season. Consider getting a flu shot in the next few weeks. While it may seem earlier than usual, it’s a great added defense to keep you and your loved one safe. In addition to wearing a mask when outside of your home, hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness. The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing hands with soap and clean, running water for 20 seconds. Wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Older adults can also help boost immunity through good hydration, which can benefit the immune system during cold and flu season.
- Schedule pre-weather heating maintenance. Before it’s time to turn up the thermostat on a chilly morning, consider scheduling maintenance for heating systems to make sure everything is in good working order. We’ve all been inside much more than usual, so changing air filters more regularly is especially important. For fireplaces, it’s a great time to have chimneys inspected and cleaned to prevent dangers like flue fires. You should also assess fireplace safety for aging loved ones.
- Keep things comfortable. With the large swings in temperature, it’s a good time to adjust automatic thermostats for both cooling AND heating. You never know when a cold front will sneak in.
- Stay alert to emergencies. Fall is a great time to replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You should test your alarms regularly to be sure they are in working order. If in doubt, replace the entire detector.
- Shed some light on the situation. The days continue to get shorter, and thus we often find ourselves in the dark. Add a timer to lamps and be sure bulbs are in good working order, especially on stairs and in spaces where tripping may occur.
- Don’t forget to layer. With our crazy weather, it’s not time to pack away those short sleeves just yet; but be sure to have light sweaters and jackets ready for an unexpected cool period. Layering is the name of the game throughout fall. Be mindful of footwear, as well. Non-skid shoes with plenty of traction can help prevent slips and falls in wet weather.
- Beware of falling leaves. While colorful leaves are part of the beauty of fall, they can present a safety hazard. When wet, they can also 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.