No doubt, come winter, many seniors will be outdoors skiing the day away. But for some, winter’s cold, ice and snow make venturing out a little more dangerous. Older adults spend as much as 90 per cent of their winter at home. It is a time to take a deep breath and just get through it.
However, that deep breath may not be good for us. The air indoors is around 10 times more contaminated than fresh air. Household chemicals, pet dander, dust mites, dirt, fibers, mould, smoke, lint, germs and viruses… they can linger in air, rugs, draperies, upholstery and vents. Particularly when the furnace is on, even in the cleanest of homes these microscopic roommates will be moving around in the air we breathe.
For anyone, breathing all that in can lead to eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, worsening of asthma and other allergic reactions, according to Health Canada.
For seniors, poor indoor air can be a health concern. Their immune systems are typically weaker, and they may have pre-existing lung or heart conditions that make them more vulnerable.
If you’re an older adult or support someone who is, here are 10 tips to healthier indoor air – especially for seniors:
- Clean draperies, carpets and upholstery at least once per year, ideally in the fall.
- Clean ceiling fans, bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans each fall.
- Crack open a window for an hour a day to bring some fresh air in.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Have your furnace serviced each year so it’s operating at peak performance and not overworking.
- Change furnace filters according to instructions provided by your heating technician.
- Have your heating ducts cleaned every couple of years – and your dryer vents, too. You’d be amazed what our AtlasCare duct cleaning technicians find after a cleaning!
- Watch pipes and walls for moisture or water damage that may lead to mould spores.
- If you’re renovating or improving your home, consider replacing carpeting with wood floors or tile.
- Consider investing in the right equipment to keep humidity under control and improve ventilation. An Energy Recovery Ventilator or air purifier can make a huge difference – removing the majority of irritants, and lower heating and cooling bills, too.
Fortunately, by taking a few simple steps, seniors can clear the air and feel a little more comfortable on those toasty indoor days when winter rages outside.