Senior Health and Fitness Reminders for Fall

Fretting about the return of fall and all the potential dangers that lurk under cold weather and flu season? Worry not! For seniors looking to make the most of autumn, don’t miss these important health and fitness reminders:

Exercise

While it might seem more apt to stay inside curled up by the fire with a warm cup of cider and a good book, autumn is actually one of the best times of the year to get outside and exercise! Not only do cooler temperatures and crisp fall air foster a less exhausting environment in which to break a sweat, but the beautiful surroundings of changing leaves adds a little color to your outdoor workout too! Seniors looking to stay active with fun fall activities should try:

  • Hiking – this low-impact activity is easy on the joints and great for building bone mass and muscle. Plus, hiking uneven terrain and scaling moderate inclines helps hone balance and coordination skills.
  • Cycling – a bike ride through your neighborhood blanketed in golds, oranges, reds, and yellows makes for a soul-lifting exercise that is good for your heart and your bones. Cycling strengthens balance skills, builds bone mass, and gives the heart a bit of a workout.
  • Apple picking – join the grandkids for an apple picking adventure this fall. The moderate-intensity walking and reaching can help burn a few calories, while eating apples adds beneficial fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants to your diet.

Fall Prevention

The first day of fall, September 22, is National Fall Prevention Awareness Day, helping alert seniors and their caregivers to the dangers of falling. Roughly 1 out of 4 seniors experiences a fall every year, many in and around their own home, and falls can lead to life-threatening injuries and hospitalization.

Take time this season to fall-proof your own home with smart upgrades to your bathroom, common walkways, porches, and other living areas. This might include:

  • Adding railings and guide tape by stairways
  • Placing non-slip adhesive strips on porches and ramps
  • Replacing dim light bulbs
  • Getting a speciality chair and installing in the shower
  • Trying out new tools like a reacher grabber to avoid bending and stooping
  • Other important health reminders which can help prevent seniors from falling include getting vision checked regularly, discussing detrimental side effects of prescription and over the counter medicine with your doctor, and exercising regularly to maintain strength, agility, and flexibility.

Cold and Flu Season

The start of fall equals the start of cold and flu season, which lasts through the spring, peaking in the months of December to February. For seniors, a cold or flu can literally be a death sentence leading to life-threatening infections and illness.

In addition to heeding doctor’s recommendations around flu and pneumonia vaccines, seniors should also take extra precautions including:

  • Avoiding ill friends and family members, especially kids who contact billions of germs each day
  • Washing and drying hands thoroughly
  • Cleaning commonly used surfaces (counters, doorknobs, etc.) with anti-bacterial wipes
  • Drinking lots of water to avoid dehydration and to help flush out toxins
  • Eating vitamins and nutrients to help power a healthy immune system (Vitamin C, protein, calcium, etc.)
  • Tracking vital statistics like blood pressure and oxygen saturation at home

Helpful online tools and applications can also assist seniors in staying on top of flu outbreaks – including FluView which tracks flu strains and spread across regions, and Doctor on Demand which lets you virtually live chat with a doctor when you are feeling sick.

Staying Warm

One stark reality of the dropping temperatures, which accompany the season of autumn, is seniors being unable to keep themselves and their homes warm. Prolonged exposure to cold air and cold drafts in the home can make a senior more susceptible to falling ill, or compromise their immune system so it can’t fight off sickness.

If you or a senior you care for lives on their own, don’t forget to take these extra precautions this fall to ensure you stay warm as cold weather moves in:

  • Check wood stoves and fireplace for creosote buildup (can lead to a fire if not removed)
  • Confirm central heating or indoor heaters are functioning properly
  • Rearrange furniture so the backs of large pieces (like couches) block drafty windows or doors
  • Keep a blanket or throw on commonly used couches for warming up
  • Make sure windows are tightly closed and place rolled towels at door bottoms with drafts

Staying healthy, warm, and happy this fall isn’t simply a matter of luck for seniors. With smart proactive steps and a cautious hand towards health and safety, you’ll be enjoying the change of seasons without worry.

 

Image courtesy of [taoty] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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