Slick Leaves and The Flu: Be Wary of These Autumn Risks for Older Adults
on October 18th, 2018 in Grayson | No Comments
- The flu results in more than 30 million outpatient visits each year.
- Approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized due to the illness.
- The total economic burden caused by the flu is said to be more than $87 million.
In case you haven’t noticed: Fall has (finally) arrived! While some states in the nation are already dealing with snow, others are just happily experiencing a bit of cooler weather. Here in Georgia, the team at our assisted living community in Grayson would like to take a moment to discuss how the change in season can affect our aging community.
We’ve spent a summer heading outdoors when the weather permitted. We walk, bike, jog and socialize without a care. Now that autumn is here, it’s time to take a moment and think about how not only the weather change, but changes to environmental conditions, can pose a risk to everyone, including older adults.
Greater Health Risks
Along with the cooler weather comes a heightened risk of influenza. Our susceptibility to viruses like the flu increases as we age. This contagious disease can wreak havoc on the body. The flu can cause inflammation, congestion, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and more.
People with the flu, especially children and older adults, may be at risk for developing pneumonia and bronchitis. People aged 65 and older are at an increased risk of suffering complications with the flu virus. This means that it’s incredibly important to prevent catching the virus in the first place.
Reducing Your Risk of Illness
As an aging adult, reducing your risk of contracting a seasonal illness is paramount. Wash your hands regularly throughout the day, but especially after you come into contact with objects or other people. If you know that someone you socialize with is sick, avoid coming into contact with them. Reschedule your plans for a later time.
Dress warmly to avoid putting a strain on your immune system. Make sure you wear layers, put on a hat and gloves, and remember to wear a coat. If you have a chronic health condition, you are urged to follow this advice.
Greater Fall Risks
Remember that cold weather means frost and inclement weather that could make pavement more slippery than usual. If you aren’t ready for slick sidewalks, you are at a heightened risk of falling down. A fall is more dangerous for an aged person.
A fall can lead to traumatic head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones, not to mention lacerations and contusions. If you notice that there is frost on the ground or that it has rained overnight, avoid going outside until the ground has cleared. If you are unable to avoid walking outdoors, there are some things you can do reduce your risk of falling.
Staying On Your Feet
You must take precautions before you step outside. If you are in charge of the care of an elderly loved one, make sure that they are taking precautions. If it is slippery outside, consider spreading sand or kitty litter over the pavement.
Either will provide necessary traction. You may also want to put down textured mats or strips on stairs and ramps to provide traction for shoes and even wheelchairs.
Sundowning and Dementia
Older adults with Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia can experience what is known as Sundowners Syndrome. It is essentially an increase in anger, agitation, memory loss and confusion during the evening.
This can be worsened in the fall as our days become shorter and evenings become longer.
Caregivers Can Control Sundowning
If you are the caregiver of a person with dementia who deals with Sundowners Syndrome, you can help lessen the symptoms. Establish a routine with your loved ones, monitor their diet, control noise and speak to their doctor about medication that may help.
You may also want to consider purchasing a light box which can help to minimize the effects of sundowning along with depression. Keep lights on around the house as darkness settles in. Think about anything you can do to make everyday more typical for your loved one.
Older Adults get SAD
Actually, it’s not just aged adults that experience SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a phenomenon that people didn’t used to take seriously. People of all ages experience SAD — a decrease in mood and energy caused by a lack of sunlight.
If you have an aged loved one who experiences this in the winter, a light box can help. A talk with a medical professional may also be in order if the person just can’t seem to get out of their funk. Sometimes depression can take hold and not let go. Medication is the only remedy for some people, and nothing to be ashamed of.
It’s a problem not often thought of, but older adults may experience social isolation as the weather cools down. If you notice that you have a loved one who is spending an unusual amount of time alone now that the weather has cooled, take some extra time to spend with them.
You never know how much one of your visits could boost your loved one’s spirits.
An Assisted Living Community Could Be the Answer
Autumn is here, and it means paying closer attention to our aged parents and loved ones. Depression and physical health ailments aren’t issues to be ignored. If you have an aging family member, reach out to our assisted living community in Grayson. We can help you when you need it the most.