With each season comes a new set of hazards for aging individuals. Many of these dangerous situations can be avoided if the proper precautions are taken. Always be aware of the weather before going outdoors or traveling with a loved one in order to be best prepared.
- Rain – Rain can cause the grass along with other surfaces to become slippery. Be aware of the increased risk of slips and help your senior pick shoes with good traction to prevent falls. If your loved one will be driving during the rainy season, make sure that their vehicle has effective windshield wipers and tire tread.
- Allergies – If an elderly family member has allergies, be sure to consult with their doctor before mixing allergy medicine with prescriptions. Ask their doctor to be specific about which allergy medications are okay to take or find out if they can write a prescription for one.
- Sunburn – Some medications can increase the effects of sun on the skin, causing seniors to burn faster. Ensure that your senior covers up with light clothing, hats, and high SPF sunscreen whenever outdoors. Try to keep track of time and don’t stay outside for long periods. If an extended period of time is spent outdoors, remember to reapply sunscreen as often as necessary. Another way to enjoy the warm weather is to go outside in the morning or evening hours rather than in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest.
- Dehydration – Increased time spent in the sun can lead to dehydration. Be sure to have plenty of drinking water available during outdoor activities and while traveling in the summer months. Ensure that your loved ones are consistently drinking water as they can become dehydrated easily and may be unaware of their thirst.
- Insects – When spending time outdoors in the evening and nighttime hours, apply insect repellent. The amount of exposed skin should also be limited by covering up with long sleeves and pants. Seniors should be especially cautious of mosquitoes if cases of West Nile have been reported in the area, as this virus can have a greater affect on the elderly.
- Leaves – Fallen leaves should be raked into piles out of the way and easy to avoid. Leaves can hide obstacles such as steps, changes in ground level, and small objects. Elderly individuals should try to steer clear of leaf piles and the possible hidden dangers.
- Ice – Because ice can often be hard to see, all walkways should be approached cautiously and salted when possible. Seniors should be sure to wear shoes or boots with good traction to help prevent slips.
- Snow – Snow can pile up in pathways causing your loved one to find a different route or attempt to walk through the snow. Alternate routes may be unsafe for travel, while walking through deep snow may cause them to become stuck. Small amounts of snow on pathways can also become slippery and cause a fall. Snow should be cleared from all walkways to avoid these dangerous situations.
- Cold – Make sure your senior wears appropriate clothing when going outdoors. This includes a heavy coat, gloves, hat, a scarf, thick socks and proper footwear. Because the immune system grows weaker with age, seniors are more susceptible to illness. Elderly loved ones should not spend long periods of time in the cold and should make sure the heat is turned on in their home.
- Driving – Driving after snowfall is hazardous for everyone, especially seniors who may have worsened vision and reaction times. Try to find alternate forms of transportation for seniors during the winter, and unless absolutely necessary, don’t go out in snowstorms. If your senior will be driving, ensure that their car is prepared for winter weather. The vehicle should be thoroughly inspected for possible problems before it is driven on winter roads. Put a supply kit in the trunk in case of an emergency.
While every season brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages, each can be made more enjoyable when preparations are made to reduce dangers. Following advice from healthcare professionals as well as these tips can help your loved ones to have a happier and healthier year.