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Sherry Brown, Professional Organizer

Fall and Winter Hazards for the Elderly

Each season has 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.

Fall:

  • 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.

Winter:

  • 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. 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 an emergency kit in the trunk and make sure your loved one knows how to use everything in the kit.
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