As we look forward to more days spent outdoors, it’s important to keep safety in mind to prevent heat-related illnesses like heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration and other dangers because our bodies become less efficient at retaining water and fat as we age. Below, we outline the top ways seniors can stay safe during the summer while enjoying the fresh air.
6 Ways Seniors Can Stay Healthy During the Summer
1. Stay Hydrated
Seniors are more susceptible to experiencing dehydration due to a lower thirst response, loss of total body fluid, and decreased kidney function. These factors result in less water reserves and more water being passed through the kidneys via urination. Other complications such as illnesses or side effects from medicine can impact hydration as well.
Drinking eight or more glasses of water per day will help replete water reserves, even if you or your loved one doesn’t feel thirsty throughout the day. Fresh fruits and vegetables, along with beverages such as milk or juice, can also help with hydration. Also, seniors should avoid excess caffeine or alcohol, as these beverages will dehydrate the body.
2. Mind the Temperature
Seniors should limit their exposure to high heat and humidity to prevent heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke include disorientation, nausea, headache, heavy breathing, fatigue, dry skin, a high body temperature (over 104 degrees), and a rapid pulse. The U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states the sun is most intense between 10am and 4pm, so try to schedule activities in the morning or evening hours to stay cool. If you do notice signs of heat stroke, call for medical attention immediately, as it can be fatal.
Fun activities to get outside of the house while remaining cool include going to local indoor malls, museums, movie theaters, senior centers, libraries, and aquariums.
3. Wear Light, Loose Clothing
Wear light, breathable clothing in natural fabrics like cotton throughout the summer to stay cool and comfortable. Light-colored clothing reflects the sun as opposed to darker colors that will absorb heat, so it’s best to invest in a summer wardrobe. When outside, consider pairing your outfit with a hat and sunglasses to shield against the sun’s rays.
4. Protect Your Eyes & Skin
When possible, stay inside or in shaded areas to avoid direct sun exposure for long periods of time. Even when it’s cloudy outside, wearing sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher safeguards your skin against UVA and UVB radiation. Additionally, make sure the sunscreen hasn’t expired, and reapply as directed or after any water activities.
To cover your face properly, select sunglasses that protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. The label or sticker on the product should read what level of radiation protection you would have. Moreover, if you or your senior loved one has macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, sunglasses with amber or brown lenses can enhance contrast to help you see better in the sunlight.
5. Heed Prescription Side Effects
Some medications can result in higher sensitivity to sunlight, which may increase the risk of heat-related illnesses. Review medications with your provider or caregiver to fully comprehend any potential side effects when spending time outdoors. Once again, seek immediate treatment if you notice any abnormal symptoms like confusion, fatigue, or a high body temperature.
6. Keep in Touch with Loved Ones
If you’re spending time outdoors alone, ask a family member, friend, or caregiver to check in with you to ensure you’re safe throughout the day. Caregivers can also be proactive by supervising seniors during outdoor activities, making certain they get enough fluids, limit time outdoors, and heed signs of heat exhaustion. It’s also important to make a list of emergency contacts such as a senior’s healthcare provider and place them in an accessible location in the house.
Help your loved one stay safe during the summer by working with a dedicated homecare agency like TruCare Homecare. TruCare Homecare is a women-owned and family-operated business centered on providing compassionate in-home senior care in the greater Philadelphia area. Our facility offers adult day care services in addition to home health care services such as meal preparation, grooming, medication reminders, mobility assistance, and transportation.
Caregivers are dedicated to creating meaningful bonds with clients and their families, offering tailored care plans that best benefit individuals’ health care needs. For more information about TruCare, call our office at (610) 878-2273, fill out a form, or view our list of services.