Autumn Safety for Seniors

Changes – Both Good and Bad

There’s much to enjoy about the transition from summer to autumn. The intense heat begins to subside, the leaves change color, and we ready ourselves for the holiday season. But like all other seasonal transitions, there’s a tradeoff, and with the positive changes come certain challenges to our health and safety. Seniors, in particular, are at risk around this time of year. Colder temperatures, the presence of influenza, and even fallen leaves can severely threaten seniors’ well-being and independence.

Older adults account for more than 50% of flu-related hospitalizations and more than 80% of flu-related deaths.

Fortunately, by following a few tips and best practices, seniors can stay safe and enjoy everything that the autumn season has to offer. Here are a few to share with senior clients.

Autumn Safety Tips

  • Get the influenza vaccine: While the flu may not be as detrimental to the health of younger people, seniors are at risk from flu complications, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. These complications can result in serious illness, hospitalization, and even death. Adding to this, the flu can also worsen pre-existing conditions. Vaccines to consider include Fluzone High-Dose, Fluad, and Flublok Quadrivalent – but it’s important to talk to a physician or other healthcare professional about the most appropriate option.
  • Reduce the risk of influenza: In addition to vaccination, it’s best to take additional steps toward reducing the risk of the flu:
    • Avoid contact with those who are sick
    • Wash hands with warm water and soap frequently throughout the day, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Regularly disinfect surfaces that are likely to be contaminated
    • Improve the immune system through regular exercise (with physician approval)
  • Reduce fire risk: As the temperature falls, it’s common to start using space heaters or fireplaces to warm up the home. Seniors should ensure that flammable objects are kept far away from these types of appliances. It’s also important to inspect fire extinguishers to ensure they are in working condition, and that batteries are replaced in smoke detectors.
  • Keep warm: While on the subject of dropping temperatures, it’s imperative that seniors protect themselves from the cold. Although autumn doesn’t present the same bitter weather as winter, there’s still a palpable risk. In fact, the National Institutes of Health reports that hypothermia can develop rather quickly after being exposed to relatively mild cold temperatures. Seniors should venture outside only when absolutely necessary. When they do, it’s important to dress in layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  • Clear away the leaves: Though certainly pleasing to the eye, fallen leaves can easily cause seniors to slip and fall. They should be raked away from the driveway and sidewalks. This is especially important once they become slippery and soggy from the rain.

Comfort Keepers® Can Help

There’s a lot to enjoy when it comes to autumn. The professional care team at Comfort Keepers® wants to ensure that senior clients have the means to experience all the season has to offer. Our caregivers can help them with the safety tips above. We can also provide companionship, meal preparation, and mobility assistance – inside and outside the home. And if they aren’t able to drive to their destinations, we can help them get there safely.

Contact a Comfort Keepers location near you to learn more about our services.




Medical Alert System Reviews. “5 Autumn Safety Tips for Seniors” by Susie Slack. Web. 2016.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDC Says ‘Take 3’ Actions to Fight the Flu.” Web. 2018.

WebMD. “Flu Can Have Dangerous Domino Effect on Seniors” by Robert Preidt. Web. 2018.

Steps Seniors Can Take to Prepare for Natural Disasters

In the Blink of An Eye

We often underestimate the volatility of Mother Nature, forgetting that our possessions, our homes, and even those we love can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye because of a tornado, hurricane, wildfire, flood, or any number of other natural disasters. Of course, we’ve gotten smarter and more sophisticated with the way these catastrophic events are forecasted and handled. Local officials have detailed plans for evacuations, and relief teams are at the ready to help however possible. Experience also counts for a lot. Think of how many disasters you’ve witnessed up to this point, and how the learnings from those experiences will aid you and others in any future events. Seniors, in particular, have a wealth of knowledge to pull from.

The Red Cross delivered more food, relief items, and shelter stays in 2017 than in the last four years combined.

Despite this knowledge and expertise, seniors are often those most vulnerable during natural disasters because of chronic health conditions or diminished hearing and vision. Even those in excellent health may just not be as agile as they once were. Fortunately, age-related limitations don’t have to stop seniors from being able to handle whatever Mother Nature throws their way. Below are some helpful tips that senior clients can follow – together with family caregivers – to prepare for natural disasters.

Disaster Preparedness Tips

  1. Become and stay informed
  • Study up on which natural disasters are likely to affect your area.
  • Learn your community’s established response and evacuation plans.
  • Sign up for text or email alert notifications available in your community.
  1. Create a supply kit that includes the following:
  • Water for drinking and sanitation (1 gallon per person, per day – for at least 3 days)
  • Non-perishable food (3-day supply)
  • Medications (to last at least 7 days)
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Personal documents (ID, birth certificate, deed to home, medication list that includes dosages, etc.)
  • Manual can opener
  • Tools (screwdriver, wrench, pliers, etc.)
  • Emergency blankets
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Change of clothes
  • Cell phone and extra chargers
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated or hand crank radio
  1. Put a plan in place
  • Determine who your emergency contacts are, and ensure that they know of community plans.
  • Double check that you have a thorough list of family contacts, not only in your phone but also written down.
  • Make an assessment of your home, and determine the best escape routes, considering specific factors such as limited mobility.
  • Write down all plans so that you can reference them at any time.
  • Check out This is a nation-wide resource that connects millions of people to services for a number of situations, including emergencies and disaster situations.

Comfort Keepers® Can Help

Helping seniors and other adults feel safe and comfortable in their homes is what we prioritize at Comfort Keepers®, and part of that includes helping them feel prepared for any crises that may arise. Our caregivers can go through the above tips to ensure clients have what they need to safeguard against natural disasters. Contact your local Comfort Keepers office to learn more about how we can help maintain safety, comfort, and happiness in the home.





Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Healthy Aging Program. “Disaster Planning Tips for Older
Adults and their Families.” Web. 2018.

Red Cross. “Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors.” Web. 2018. “Seniors.” Web. 2018.

Immunization Awareness: What are the Recommended Vaccines for Seniors?

What Makes Vaccines Important?

Research shows that a number of older adults aren’t getting the vaccines they need to help reduce their risk of serious illnesses. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 report showed that 43% of older adults (age 65 and older) aren’t up to date on their tetanus shots. Some seniors may feel that they are already covered, by way of past immunizations, or that they needn’t worry since they haven’t had the flu or other illnesses in years. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

With age, we become much more susceptible to serious illnesses and infections (due to a weakened immune system), and they can strike seemingly out of nowhere – even for the healthiest of people. Influenza or pneumonia can take their toll on younger adults, but the setback is often temporary. For seniors, the complications that arise from these illnesses can be life-threatening and lead to hospitalization or death.

Are all vaccines 100% effective? While they may not be guaranteed protection, vaccines represent the best form of risk reduction, and can help make symptoms less severe for those who do come down with the respective illness. Immunizations can make a fairly significant difference in a senior’s physical wellbeing. Below are recommend vaccinations seniors should consider, upon thorough discussion with their physician.

The CDC estimates that over 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations are for those 65 years of age and older.


Recommended Vaccinations

  • Influenza vaccine: As mentioned previously, even the healthiest of older adults can come down with the flu. And for those managing chronic conditions, complications from the respiratory illness can easily lead to hospitalization. Because of these risks, seniors may want to consider the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, which contains a higher number of antigens than standard flu shots. Two other vaccines that may offer greater protection include Fluad and Flublok Quadrivalent. Sometime before October – the beginning of flu season – seniors should talk with their physician and other healthcare professionals about which influenza vaccine is most appropriate.
  • Shingles vaccine: Also known as herpes zoster, shingles is a painful skin rash that occurs when the virus responsible for chickenpox reactivates. In addition to the formation of blisters, approximately 25% of people with shingles also develop what’s called postherpetic neuralgia, a nerve pain that can last for months or even years. There are two vaccines for shingles. The first is Zostavax, which reduces the risk of the disease by approximately 50%. Just this year, however, a second vaccine has been approved in Canada called Shingrix, which is 90% effective in shingles risk reduction. The CDC now recommends the vaccine for everyone 50 years and older, but one of the downsides of Shingrix is that the injection is noticeably more painful that Zostavax, and can deter people from coming back for the second (and essential) dose. Many medical professionals note that the temporary pain is a small price to pay for increased protection against shingles.
  • Tdap vaccine: Often given within a single shot, the vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are essential for health and wellbeing. For those who received the Tdap vaccine when they were younger, or if it’s been more than ten years, getting one as soon as possible should be a priority. Seniors who have had a recent cut, wound, or burn should also safeguard against tetanus (which enters through the bloodstream) with a tetanus booster.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine: Pneumococcal bacteria, which can lead to the development of pneumonia and meningitis, is responsible for numerous senior hospitalizations and deaths each year. The CDC recommends that seniors get the two available vaccinations: PCV-13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) and PPSV-23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine). They should get PCV-13 first, followed by PPSV-23 about twelve month later.

Comfort Keepers® Can Help

Maintaining senior health and wellbeing is a priority for the team at Comfort Keepers®. Our caregivers can assist in providing seniors with transportation to and from the doctor’s office or clinics to receive their vaccinations, or to talk with their physician about which vaccines are most appropriate. Our caregivers can also work to promote a safe and healthy lifestyle, inside and outside the home. Contact your local Comfort Keepers office today to learn more.





Consumer Reports. “The 4 Vaccines Older Adults Need” by Hallie Levine. Web. 2017.

People. “What to Know About the New Shingles Vaccine – And Why You Should Get It ASAP if You’re Over 50”
by Julie Mazziotta. Web. 2018.

National Council on Aging. “NCOA Blog: Healthy Living – Healthy Aging in Winter and Beyond: 4 Important Vaccines
for Seniors Covered by Medicare” by Healthy Aging Team. Web. 2017.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Vaccine Information for Adults.” Web. 2018. “Recommended Vaccines for the Elderly” by Anne-Mario Botek. Web. 2018.

Kitchen Safety for Seniors

Kitchens are one of the most dangerous areas of a home for seniors. There may be physical issues such as diminished balance, vision, and reflexes ─ or a senior may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Many accidents and falls occur in the kitchen due to: cooking fires, water, grease and spills on the floor, reaching for hard-to-reach objects, appliance injuries, even inappropriate objects placed in a microwave.

Keeping Seniors Safe in the Bathroom

Bathrooms can be quite hazardous, especially for Canada’s seniors. Up to 80% of falls in the home occur in the bathroom. Bathrooms typically have slippery surfaces, and nothing dependable to grasp in order to prevent falls. Fall-related injuries can range from minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises to more severe injuries, including broken bones such as hip fractures, head contusions, and even spinal cord injury.