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How to Prepare Your Senior Relatives for the Autumn Season

Dazzling shows of autumnal leaves grace the tree lined horizons, creating breathtaking views. Along with the brilliant display of colorful leaves comes a biting chill in the air.

As summer exits, fall starts, bringing with it seasonal hazards to which every senior should give their careful attention.

The loved one in your life can best prepare for the cooler months ahead by heeding the following tips to stay healthy and safe.

Thwart the Flu

Flu season starts in October. Although the influenza virus is active year-round, seniors are especially vulnerable to catching the flu during the season’s peak times between December and February. Seniors should get a head start on their flu vaccines in the fall to safeguard against possible infections later in the season.

Older adults have weaker immune systems than younger people. Seniors aged 65 and older are likely to suffer from severe flu complications, should the virus strike. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 70 to 85 percent of flu-related deaths occur in people over 65. The CDC also concludes that 54 to 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur in seniors over 65.

Although your loved one may have received a flu shot last year, virus strains change each year, making last year’s flu shot ineffectual this year. Plus, the vaccine loses its potency as the months go by, making annual flu shots a critical necessity. Fortunately, yearly flu vaccines remain active for the duration of flu season.

Certain flu vaccines, like the FDA-approved Fluad, boost the senior’s overall immune response. Seniors can expect a flu vaccine to take full effect within two weeks of the shot, not anytime sooner. The 14-day window gives the body’s immunity time to build up and fight flu infections.

Tackle Outdoor Hazards

The fall season may lead to falls in seniors. Dry, fallen autumnal leaves that scatter along sidewalks and walkways are a danger to seniors, who may slip on the leaves. It is important to regularly clear the home’s surrounding areas of fallen leaves, especially if an aging loved one ambles outside.

Dampened leaves on walkways also pose as a risk, since seniors can easily slip and sustain an injury. Maintain the premises of a loved one’s home and clear debris from the driveway, sidewalks and the surrounding areas of the senior’s home. Hire a professional landscaping service, if necessary.

Puddles produce slick surfaces for seniors if they are apt to saunter outdoors after an autumnal rain shower. Reschedule outdoor trips when it rains.

Crimson and golden leaves are a beautiful sight to watch. However, nature’s scenic leaves, gently bent twigs and other natural debris may accumulate within the home’s gutter system and cause a blockage. If your loved one lives alone, be sure to arrange for the home’s gutters to be cleaned frequently.

Ensure Steady Heating

While you’re arranging for the gutter in your loved one’s home to be cleared, also schedule an appointment with an HVAC service technician. An annual, thorough inspection and cleaning of the heating system before winter arrives serves as a practical measure to prevent the heater’s breakdown in the middle of a bone-chilling winter.

Space heaters in a senior’s home are advised only if the units are monitored continuously. These tiny units can produce carbon monoxide poisoning, and they are a fire hazard. If used at all, space heaters should be kept three feet away from walls and curtains or other fabrics, like sheets.

Prevent Hypothermia

Fall is a period of alternating warm and cool weather. The temperatures can change quickly in the fall, and unexpected cold weather can lead to a condition known as hypothermia. The condition occurs when a senior’s body’s temperature dips below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Hypothermia can prompt a series of serious health conditions, including liver damage and a heart attack.

Seniors may accommodate the season’s fluctuations by dressing in layers when heading outdoors. Since older individuals are more sensitive to the cold, excursions to the outdoors require attire that can be peeled back or added on.

Hypothermia may even occur indoors. Prevent an onset of the condition by maintaining the heat between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Wear cozy socks and a snug hat and use blankets over the legs to stay comfortably warm.

Prepare for Emergencies

Changing weather conditions can reign in autumnal storms. Powerful gusts of winds and thunderous downpours of rain can lead to unanticipated power outages, a loss to the water supply, or fallen tree branches that take down electrical wires. Prepare your loved one’s home for an emergency situation.

Keep plenty of bottled water on hand, as well as canned food and a can opener, a first aid kit and flashlights with fresh batteries. Develop a communication plan to check on your loved one in the event of a natural disaster or calamity. Be sure the senior is aware of the plan.

During the autumn season, check on your loved one frequently. If the senior in your life lives alone or a far distance away, hiring a caregiver to provide onsite care is a suitable option. Assisting Hands Home Care in Park Ridge, IL is a reputable elder care agency with a team of reliable caregivers who are skilled in offering compassionate, non-medical homecare.

Non-medical services performed by our professional caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care in Park Ridge IL include fall prevention, meal preparation, companionship and light housekeeping. As a family member, you can arrange for in-home caregiving services on an as-needed basis. Caregivers are available for short durations, like an afternoon or evening of respite care, or on a long-term, 24-hour basis. Care options are flexible.

Our team at Assisting Hands Home Care in Park Ridge IL will hold a discussion with both the family and care recipient in order to develop a customized care plan to meet the senior’s needs. Care management relies in part on feedback from family members. Assisting Hands Home Care dependably serves the senior populations in the Park Ridge community and in Cook County, IL.