It is that time of year again when the hot days of summer are gone, and the long, chilly nights and dropping temperatures start to take over. As seasons shift, so do our home priorities, and regular fall maintenance becomes essential to prevent costly home repairs. For older adults, fall upkeep isn’t just about preventing expensive home repairs but is necessary for safety. It is true that safety hazards rise as the leaves begin to fall. Preparing before the weather transitions is not only vital but highly beneficial to older adults, who can be more vulnerable to the effects of seasonal changes. Your actions now will reduce your risk of damage and ensure your home and loved ones are well-prepared for the unforgiving winter months.

Marking the official arrival of fall on September 23, 2023, the autumn equinox is a timely reminder to tackle your home maintenance to-do list. This autumn checklist will help prepare for potential challenges posed by fluctuating temperatures, especially for seniors living independently.

  1. Inspect the Furnace – Have a specialist check the heating system to ensure it works safely. Also, clean and inspect the fireplace to prevent a flu fire. Never burn candles or use space heaters unattended.
  2. Test All Detectors – This is a great time to check and change all the batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are in proper working order. 
  3. Vehicle Maintenance  – Scheduling a tune-up to ensure everything functions correctly and tires have the correct air pressure can help prevent a breakdown in bad weather. 
  4. Falling Leaves – Help prevent falls by raking leaves and debris that can cause slippery, hazardous surfaces for seniors that could already be unsteady. Also, clean gutters and downspouts of fallen leaves and debris to prevent water damage to your roof or foundation.
  5. Light the Night – Seniors need adequate lighting. Prepare for longer nights with new light bulbs, accessible flashlights, fresh batteries, and plenty of nightlights. Also, ensure all outdoor lighting properly works with new bulbs for long winter nights.
  6. Winter Freeze – Drain and store outdoor hoses, insulate pipes, and shut off water to outdoor connections. 
  7. Seasonal Clothing – Check that older adults have all the essentials, such as warm socks, hats, coats, and sweaters. Waterproof and non-slip shoes for indoor and outdoor can help keep their feet warm while preventing falls.
  8. Get a Flu Shot – Protect seniors from flu season by getting vaccinated and washing hands frequently. Ensuring our loved ones take the proper vitamins can also help promote a healthy immune system. 

Additional options to consider, especially for older adults living alone, include a smart thermostat with larger icons and smart lights that turn on and off automatically at dawn and dusk. Nightlights around the home that remain operational even during power outages are also available. When enhancing safety measures, consider the installation of handrails and non-skid surfaces in hallways and potentially hazardous areas around the house, which can significantly reduce the risk of slips and falls.

While these tips significantly improve seniors’ living situation, professional home care services can assist seniors at home. Home Care is an excellent option for an aging loved one who needs help but doesn’t want to lose their independence. Professional caregivers can support activities of daily living that can become even more difficult as the seasons change. However, those Veterans who don’t see it as an option due to financial circumstances shouldn’t be overlooked. Aging wartime Veterans and their surviving spouses could qualify for home care assistance through the VA benefit Pension with Aid and Attendance, helping them remain independent with dignity. Veterans Care Coordination is here to help provide Veterans and their surviving spouses that option in a simplified manner with the respect they earned and deserve while giving family members peace of mind.

You can effectively ward off potential challenges from the changing seasons with the help of a professional caregiver and by staying proactive and well-prepared. Once you’ve completed all the necessary tasks on your checklist, you and your aging loved ones can fully embrace the beauty of the autumn season without any added worries.