Fall is here! The leaves are changing colors, pumpkins are appearing on doorsteps, and the days are growing shorter. California’s autumns may not be as dramatic as those in the Midwest or East Coast, but our change of seasons is lovely in its own right.
The same early sunsets and damp weather that make fall feel so cozy can also present challenges for seniors. Our home checklist will help you keep your loves ones safe no matter what the forecast brings.
Preparing the Home
A few simple preparations can help keep your older parent or loved one’s home warm and dry this fall:
- Furnace safety: Have their furnace inspected every two years, or annually for if it’s over 10 years old. Regular servicing will prolong their furnace’s lifespan, save energy, and ensure that your loved one is not exposed to dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
- Gutter maintenance: California needs rain, but a sudden downpour can create problems around the house if you’re not ready for it. During the rainy season, gutters and downspouts will be put to the test. Arrange to have them cleared of leaves and debris, to avoid clogs and overspill.
- Preventing drafts: Those drafts you feel coming from the doors or windows? They’re costing your loved one money. Sealing drafts will help keep the home warm and reduce their energy bill. Weatherstripping tape is inexpensive and easy to install. For an even simpler and temporary fix, consider a draft stopper: a cloth tube stuffed with rice, beans, or batting, which can be laid at the bottom of a door to prevent cold air from coming in.
- Emergency phone numbers: Make sure your older loved one has a comprehensive list of utility companies’ phone numbers, including power, gas, and water, in case they need to report outages.
Reminding your loved one of these personal preparations will help them over the coming months:
- Avoiding falls: Slick sidewalks and wet leaves can make for tricky outdoor walking. Falling can cause major injuries including hip or wrist fractures and head trauma. Make sure your loved one has waterproof shoes or boots with a sturdy non-skid sole to prevent slippage.
- Keeping warm: Aging causes a decrease in the metabolic rate, which makes it hard for some older adults to generate enough heat to stay comfortable. Research shows that older adults are safest when the room temperature is at least 65 degrees, with some preferring it be much warmer. Check to be sure the thermostat is easy to operate and read. You may want to install a smart thermostat, so they can control the temperature from their phone or table.
- Staying connected: Perhaps the greatest challenge of these darker, damper days is social isolation. Staying connected to their community will help your aging loved one avoid loneliness, reducing their risk for developing depression or cognitive decline. Joining a senior center or social club can also help. If your older loved one belongs to a faith-based organization, consider reaching out to them about community activities. And depending on their interests, they may also enjoy establishing a connection with the local library or hobby club.
Seniors At Home is here to help, with these tips and many more to keep your older parent or loved one safe. We hope these suggestions help them make the most of the autumn months. Here’s to changing colors, warm cups of tea, and close connections this fall.
If you or someone you care about needs assistance, please reach out to us at 415-529-5981 or contact us online. Seeking support and understanding helps us—and our loved ones—enjoy a higher quality of life and make the most of our time together.