Summer is in full swing, and as the temperatures rise, it’s critical for caregivers to be aware of how the heat can affect senior loved ones. Exposure to excessive heat can lead to dehydration, heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, so caregivers need to take extra preventative measures to ensure seniors remain comfortable and safe throughout the summer season.
Here are some helpful tips to make certain seniors stay safe during the summer months.
8 Tips to Keep Seniors Safe Over the Summer
1. Limit Outdoor Activities
The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 am and 4 pm, so try to reduce the amount of time spent outdoors in the afternoon. Advise seniors to run morning errands or engage in outdoor activities like walking in the evening to avoid overheating. Also, pay attention to weather reports so they can remain indoors on particularly sweltering days.
2. Stay Hydrated
Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration because our water reserves and thirst response decrease as we age, among other factors. It’s important for caregivers to have hydrating fluids available like cold water, flavored water, juice, sports drinks, or milk, even if seniors don’t feel thirsty. Seniors should also avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, as these dehydrate the body more.
Other hydrating sources include fresh fruits like melons, cucumbers, and berries, so consider packing these sorts of snacks when out on the town.
3. Think Fresh
When grocery shopping and meal prepping, consider skipping meals that require using the oven or stove often to keep the house cooler. Meals like salads, smoothies, fruit, vegetables with dip, and other refrigerated items make for excellent seasonal meals that will keep seniors feeling refreshed and satisfied.
On another note, make certain foods that have expired are thrown out appropriately to prevent food-borne illnesses.
4. Check Medications
Some medications can heighten sensitivity to the sun, so caregivers should remind seniors to stay out of direct sunlight for long periods of time, if this is the case. Medications may also need to be stored in a cool place or even refrigerated. This also applies to any medical equipment such as oxygen tanks that need to be kept away from sources of heat to prevent a fire from starting.
If you need more information on medications, consult your senior’s doctor or pharmacist to verify any potential side effects.
5. Know the Signs of Heat Stroke & Heat Exhaustion
It can be difficult for people to recognize they’re suffering from heatstroke, especially older adults with cognitive or physical disabilities. Knowing the signs of heat-related illnesses can save a senior’s life.
Signs of Heat Stroke:
- Core body temperature of 104 F or higher
- Confusion, delirium, or irritability
- Slurred speech
- Hot, dry skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Flushed skin
If you notice any of these signs, seek emergency assistance immediately. In the meantime, cool the body with cold, damp clothing and move them into a cool area. Don’t give them anything to drink until they’re stabilized.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
- Heavy sweating, followed by no sweating
- Cold clammy skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Faint pulse
- Muscle cramps
If you notice any of these signs, call 911. In the meantime, similar steps can be taken as listed above. Cool the body with cold, damp clothing and move them into a cool area. However, in the case of heat exhaustion, you can give them water or begin IV fluids.
6. Dress for the Season
Encourage seniors to wear light, loose clothing with natural fabrics to reflect heat. Additionally, direct sunlight can impact seniors’ eyes, resulting in dryness, discomfort, or even vision damage. Protective hats and eyewear that block UVA and UVB rays can help shield their eyes from the sun’s rays.
Moreover, wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher is recommended even on cloudy days. Caregivers should bring a bottle of sunscreen and help reapply as necessary.
7. Bring Mosquito Repellant
Summer is a time spent outdoors for everyone, including mosquitoes. Their bites not only cause discomfort, but they can also carry diseases like West Nile virus or Zika virus. Adults’ immune systems tend to weaken with age, so it’s vital to take precautions against these dangerous diseases. Caregivers can stay ahead of the game by bringing mosquito repellant and making certain seniors cover their arms and legs with light, loose clothing. Other tools such as citronella candles and essential oil diffusers can also combat pests.
8. Have a List of Emergency Contacts
Make a list of contacts such as your senior loved one’s pharmacist, doctors, neighbors, and close family and friends in case of an emergency. If your senior loved one enjoys spending time outdoors or runs errands on their own, having a list of contacts handy can literally save their life in the event of a crisis if and when you can’t get ahold of them.
If you or your senior loved one needs assistance with daily activities, TruCare Homecare can step in and help. 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, 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 our services, call our office at 610-878-2273 or fill out a contact form.