As the dog days of summer slip into the cooler days of autumn, it’s a good time for seniors and their caregivers to assess potential health risks that can accompany this change in seasons.
Take Precautions to Avoid the Flu
The seasonal flu can cause congestion and inflammation of the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), adults ages 65 and older are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu. In fact, the CDC estimates that 71 to 84 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in this age group. The flu also can worsen chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.
To avoid getting the flu virus, seniors should get vaccinated against the flu early in the flu season, which begins in October. Other important precautions include washing hands regularly, using hand sanitizer, being seen by a medical provider as soon as flu symptoms occur, avoiding others who are sick, getting plenty of rest, and eating a healthy diet.
Dress for the Weather
Not dressing warmly enough during chilly weather can create a strain on the body and immune system. Because seniors are particularly sensitive to the cold, they should dress warmly and in layers. Air trapped between layers and warmed by body heat increases comfort. Seniors with chronic health conditions such as asthma or who have experienced bronchitis or pneumonia should be sure to dress warmly. Becoming chilled or exposed to the cold can complicate health issues or lead to new illnesses. When out doing errands or enjoying outdoor activities, seniors should carry extra layers of clothing with them in case a fall day that starts warm becomes chilly.
Take Precautions to Avoid Falls
Falling can cause severe disabilities in the elderly and is a leading cause of death for those who experience an accidental injury. Falls can cause broken bones and head and brain injuries, as well as lead to significant lifestyle changes.
To reduce the risk of falls, seniors should avoid walking on wet leaves, grass, and pavement. On rainy days, poor vision can make seeing puddles more difficult for seniors. If the weather is bad, seniors should consider rescheduling outdoor activities and allowing others to run errands for them. Firmly affixed textured rubber mats on stairs can provide firmer footing for seniors indoors.
Enjoy Fun Fall Activities
As the days get shorter with fewer hours of sunlight, some seniors may experience depression. To keep spirits high, seniors should create or take advantage of enjoyable activities. Invite a friend to visit or chat by phone, read a good book, listen to music, or watch old or new movies. Attend fall festivals, go leaf peeping, or try pumpkin picking. Dress warmly for the weather and have fun!