Summer is a season full of fun outdoor activities and relaxation. However, this type of weather can be particularly dangerous for seniors, especially if precautions are not properly taken. Here are 8 tips for helping older adults have a safe summer:
1. Stay Hydrated
As people age, it becomes more difficult for our bodies to retain water. In this regard, seniors are more likely to become dehydrated. Remind your client to drink water throughout the day. Juice, milk, decaffeinated iced tea, and coconut water are also good options for re-hydration. Also try adding fruits, vegetables, or herbs to water for more flavor. For more info on the hydrating benefits of coconut water, read here.
2. Be Mindful of Medications
Certain medications may cause skin to become sensitive to sunlight, while others may need to be stored in a cool, dry place. Talk with your client’s doctor and/or pharmacist to review which medications cause sun-sensitivity.
3. Be Sun Smart
Staying out of direct sunlight and scheduling outings for the morning or evening can greatly reduce the effects of the sun. When spending time outside, be mindful of the amount of shade available (or lack thereof) and move to shade when needed. To protect from UV rays, even when it’s cloudy, wear sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. If a senior does not have an air conditioner at home, bring them to cool places such as libraries, movie theaters, and shopping malls. This will allow the elder to stay cool and exercise without excessive heat.
4. Wear Proper Clothing
Wear loose and light clothing made with breathable fabrics like cotton. Furthermore, consider putting away winter clothing to prevent those with Alzheimer’s or dementia from making unseasonal and dangerous choices. Also bring a light jacket or sweater in case the older person becomes chilled from air conditioning.
5. Watch For Mosquitoes
Older adults are more susceptible to mosquito-borne diseases, such as the West Nile virus. To prevent mosquito bites, apply mosquito repellent when going outdoors.
6. Keep Temperatures Consistent
Keep the temperature at home as consistent and comfortable as possible, as seniors have difficulty adjusting to changes in temperature.
7. Know Hyperthermia Symptoms
Hyperthermia, or opposite of hypothermia, occurs when the body experiences abnormally high body temperatures, Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of hyperthermia:
- Dry, flushed skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body temperature greater than 104 degrees
- Breathing heavily
- Rapid pulse
- Not sweating, even in the heat
8. Effectively Communicate
With the warm weather, it is imperative to have clear communication between yourself and the older individual. Check in with your client throughout the day on their health and any activities they performed outside. In addition, talk with the client’s family and caregivers if they have spent long periods of time outside, even if they were performing simple tasks such as gardening or taking a walk.
Following these tips will help minimize the effects of the sun and heat on your client, but also remember to take care of yourself. If you feel any of the symptoms above, seek help immediately. Also remember to have fun and enjoy time outside!