10 Autumn Safety Tips for Older Adults

With milder weather and falling leaves, safety hazards to seniors become much more prevalent. Here’s an autumn safety checklist to help you and your loved ones prepare for the possible dangers brought on by the colder weather:

Fall is gorgeous in its own right, but falling leaves and winter weather can make outdoor spaces dangerous for unsteady seniors. Be sure to rake up any lawn debris or fallen leaves to prepare for the winter season and prevent accidental falls. Gutters, walkways, roads, and sidewalks may also need attention. Additionally, installing handrails and non-skid surfaces to exterior stairs makes it easier to prevent a tumble from slipping on ice or leaves. If you’re a senior and still maintaining your own yard, be sure to stretch and use your legs to prevent injuries to your neck or back while landscaping. Inside, be sure to test your furnace, fireplace, and chimney to ensure that your home has heat.

Daylight savings time in 2021 ends Sunday, November 7th. We’ve passed the summer solstice and the days are becoming shorter and shorter. By November, it’ll be dark outside very early. In some places, as soon as 4 PM. Be sure to be mindful of this time change as driving at night can be dangerous. If you do drive at night, make sure you drive slowly and take great care merging and turning to avoid accidents. If you’re a caretaker and your loved one still drives, be sure to talk to them about these dangers. If you feel their eyesight is too poor to drive at night, be sure to discuss it with them.

With daylight savings gone and the days infinitely shorter, you’ll need to rely on sources of artificial light. Before autumn takes full effect, be sure to stock up on candles, light bulbs, and batteries. You should also check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year: in March and November when you change the clocks for daylight savings. Testing them twice a year is a great way to ensure they’re always working. It may also be a good idea to install smart lights that turn on automatically when they sense motion to help prevent accidents or falls in the dark. Remember, poor lighting is a key contributor to senior falls.

Socks, warm house shoes, wool hats, coats, and sweaters are all great articles to keep at home during the fall. It’s also a good idea to keep warm clothes in your vehicle just in case your car breaks down while it’s cold or wet outside. Like mom always said, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

With autumn comes flu season. To protect yourself, get vaccinated, and wash your hands frequently. Wash your hands after handling money, returning home from public places, after using the bathroom and before eating. You can also take Vitamin C or Zinc to help promote a healthy immune system. If you get sick, be sure to stay home and cover your nose and mouth whenever you cough or sneeze to prevent spreading the flu to others.

Another great way to prevent getting sick this autumn is to regulate and maintain a healthy activity and sleeping routine. Fall and winter are the most important seasons to keep your body moving. Practicing yoga, taking a short walk, or going for a jog on the treadmill can lower your chances of getting sick and also help you sleep better. It can also reduce your risk of falling by promoting strong muscles and healthy joints. On the other hand, sleep is a crucial part of keeping your immune system healthy. Sleep allows your body to recover and repair itself and fight off illnesses. Without it, you’re more likely to suffer from a fall or getting sick. Rest can also keep your mind sharp and alert and leave you feeling happier and more refreshed for your daily routine.

If your loved one still drives, be sure to get their car into the shop for a regular tune-up. Having a vehicle in proper working condition makes it less likely for them to get into an accident or break down in dangerous weather conditions, like extreme cold. Make sure the vehicle’s fluids are topped off, and the engine is maintained. An oil change and tire rotation are great for pre-winter preparation. You should also make sure the tires are full of air and that the headlights, taillights, and signals are working correctly. If you want to go the extra mile, now is an excellent time to make sure their heat and AC is working correctly, too.

There’s nothing cozier during the fall than a clean house and a vanilla-scented candle. However, during autumn there is a noticeable uptick in fires caused by improper candle use. Never leave a candle burning if you leave the house or fall asleep. Be sure to keep burning candles away from high traffic areas and pets.

If you still don’t use a personal emergency response system or other medical alert devices, now is the time to start looking into them. Everyone can benefit from having a medical alert device handy at all times. PERS devices make it possible for seniors to safely age in their own homes and call for help if they need it. They’re great for getting help after a fall or accident and can bring peace of mind both to you and to your loved one. With two-way voice communication, these devices can put your loved one in touch with you, their friends, other family members, neighbors, and even 911 at the press of a button. Best of all, these devices are small, water-resistant, and can fit into a purse or pocket. They can also be worn on a belt clip or around a lanyard or mounted in dangerous areas of the home, such as the bathroom or staircase.

Autumn is notorious for slippery leaves and icy rain. To prevent falls outside, it’s a good idea to invest in a solid pair of waterproof, slip-resistant outside shoes. No-skid shoes are also great for in the house. As daylight savings makes the home darker earlier, non-slip shoes can prevent accidental falls from water, poor lighting, or other trip hazards found around the home.

We hope you find these tips useful! We encourage you to explore ASNCM’s vast list of programs and services offered to help you or your loved one live in safety, dignity, and respect this fall season.