*By Dr. Judith S. Black
Helping older family members stay safe, secure and independent begins with preparation in the home.
Learn how to help seniors stay safe and healthy by following these tips:
- Since snow and ice and other adverse weather conditions raise the risk of falls during the winter season, it is important to wear appropriate footwear – comfortable shoes with anti-slip soles. This will help secure footing on icy or snowy walks, stairs or driveways.
- Check where you regularly walk and be aware of any surfaces that may present a slip or fall risk. Be sure rugs are flat and secure, especially since footwear in the winter tends to be a bit heavier and bulkier than in the warmer weather months.
- Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. If you haven’t done so already, it is not too late to call your friends and family members to remind them to get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot can help prevent complications in older adults and anyone with asthma, diabetes, anemia and other heart and lung problems. Call your doctor today to discuss and schedule your flu shot.
- I also recommend getting a pneumococcal (pneumonia) shot. Unlike the flu shot, which is different each year and is given before the start of the influenza season, the pneumococcal shot can be given at any time of the year. However, for convenience, the pneumococcal shot can be given at the same time as the flu shot.
- At this time of the year, it is also important for senior citizens to be protected from the cold temperatures. Every year, many elderly people die from hypothermia and exposure since our bodies are less able to protect us from dangerously cold weather if they have to be outdoors.
- Finally, diet and exercise should not be neglected during the winter months. While you may not want to venture outside for a walk, it is important to stay active with light exercises indoors.
Dr. Judith S. Black has been the medical director for senior markets at Highmark Inc.