The fall season is a beautiful time of year and many people enjoy the cooler temperatures, colorful leaves and the anticipation of the holiday season. Unfortunately, for the elderly, the change in the weather can also increase certain health risks. A little advance preparation can prevent problems and ensure everyone has a happy and comfortable season.
Keep Everyone Warm
Seniors are much more at risk for hypothermia than other age groups because they are usually less active and because certain medications can change how the body regulates its temperature. Days that feel mildly cool to a healthy 30-year-old could be dangerous to an inactive octogenarian on diabetes medication.
Prepare for the cooler temperatures by asking your doctor if any of their medication can cause this type of concern. All seniors should have warm outwear whenever going outside including hats and gloves. Have clothing that is easy to layer available because layering traps warm air within the layers. You can easily add or remove layers as the air temperatures fluctuate.
Make certain that everyone around you can identify the early signs of hypothermia. Slow movements, slurred speech, and arm and leg stiffness can occur as people become too cold. Added signs of hypothermia include a low body temperature, weak pulse, and shivering.
Avoid Flu Season
The flu is one of the biggest fears for caregivers and seniors. Flu season peaks in the winter, but it starts in the fall. According to the CDC, 71 to 85 percent of the deaths from the influenza virus is to people over the age of 65. Recent studies have also shown that the elderly have an increased risk of a stroke or heart attack for up to a month after recovering from the flu.
Friends, relatives, and caregivers with an active illness or previously exposed to a cold or flu should not visit the elderly. Contact them through the phone or online for a couple of weeks to avoid any risk.
All elderly individuals, as well as anyone that will spend time around them, should have an annual flu vaccination. Everyone should be more attentive to their handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus. Try to eat healthier and talk to your doctor to see if any supplements or vitamins could help to boost their immune system.
Lower Pneumonia Risk
An earlier battle with a cold or the flu will increase the chances of someone contracting pneumonia. Steps for pneumonia prevention are the same as it is with the flu: boost the immune system, make handwashing a priority, and keep anyone with a contagious illness out of the home.
A flu shot and a pneumococcal vaccination will lower the risk of the illness even more. There are two types of vaccinations available for the two types of bacteria that cause pneumonia. The CDC recommends anyone 65 or over have both of these one-time shots.
Prevent Any Falls
Colder weather can mean slippery surfaces due to ice and snow. Prevent falls by addressing some of the most common causes. A visit to an optometrist to ensure that you have the right prescription for your corrective lenses will reduce falls related to poor vision. Develop a suitable exercise routine to improve balance and muscle strength for better stability.
Not everyone will have the ability to get stronger, and medication can cause unpreventable balance issues. Make certain that you have access to a walker, cane, or wheelchair. Have exterior entrances modified to provide a safe walkway with good lighting, support rails, and steps wide enough to accommodate any mobility aid.
Fall is a wonderful season, and everyone should have the chance to enjoy all that it offers. If you are an elderly individual concerned about the coming season, or if you care for a senior parent, contact us at Oakridge Gardens. We can help you to learn more about the options available to help you keep your loved one safe.