Autumn is in full swing, and with it comes cooler temperatures, flu season, and outdoor hazards such as slick leaves and patches of ice. That said, there are a number of appealing factors about this time of year, and patients can reap the benefits of fall when caregivers do their part to keep them safe, healthy, and happy.
Caregivers work with a broad range of clients. Those featured in the Nurse2Help appwork with patients from the elderly to youth with physical or emotional disabilities. We embrace the variety clients provide, yet recognize that autumn presents a number of challenges for people from all walks of life.
As such, we have put together the following cold-weather, patient-protecting tips. This fall and winter, caregivers ought to:
- Encourage protection from the flu.
Influenza cases start to pick up in October, and peak from December to February each year. If the patient hasn’t already been vaccinated, caregivers should express the importance of the flu shot to the client or their family. (And caregivers really ought to get vaccinated as well.)
The Center for Disease Control and Preventionstates that anywhere from 54% to 70% of hospitalizations related to the flu involve people over the age of 65. That said, annual flu shots are highly beneficial for individuals of all ages. The vaccine takes approximately two weeks to reach its full potency, so the time is now to get vaccinated.
- Keep the patient warm—in the home and outside.
Chances are caregivers and patients alike have turned on the heat in their respective homes. It’s nonetheless important to hire an HVAC technician to inspect the furnace every year, as regular inspections can keep the heating system from failing.
While it’s crucial to keep the patient warm, it’s worth noting that space heaters should be used sparingly, kept away from walls and other objects, and monitored regularly to reduce the risk of fire. And outside, as fall features the unusual combination of warm and cool weather, the caregiver should make sure the patient dresses in layers. This can help prevent hypothermia, which takes place when the body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prevent hazards like slips and falls.
The outdoors is the perfect combination of bleak and beautiful this time of year—but it’s not without its hazards. Children, the elderly, and everyone in between face a number of outdoor risks of which caregivers should be aware.
Fallen leaves are especially slippery when wet, and even the lightest showers can lead to slick surfaces. Home care providers should clear the patient’s home of leaves and debris on a regular basis, and pay close attention to all surfaces when spending time outside. In turn, salt and sand offer traction when necessary, so why not keep a supply of anti-slip materials on hand?
Above all else, caregivers should keep the patient—and their family, if applicable—informed of any autumn-related risks they may come across. Communication is key to a successful caregiver-patient relationship no matter the time of year.
Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and resources from Nurse2Help. The Nurse2Help app lists hundreds of prescreened caregivers in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Please contact us for more information.