Summer can be the happiest time of the year but also the most dangerous for seniors. With simple precautions you can enjoy the great outdoors, the beauty of the season and everything that it has to offer, including mouth watering fruits, beautiful sunsets and a plethora of outdoor activities and events such as concerts, movies, parades and sports.
We are sharing our best tips for seniors to stay healthy during the long days of summer.
- We all know we should drink more water. But this is especially true for the summer months. Stick with water and electrolyte drinks and stay away from very cold drinks as they can cause stomach cramps. To stay hydrated, avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol and sugary drinks. It is helpful to sip fluids throughout the day to stay at your peak.
- It is important to check in with family and friends, especially during heat waves, in case you need assistance. In line with that, prepare a list or save emergency phone numbers in your cell phone for easy access. Keep in communication with your doctor regarding medicines you take. Note some medications can be affected if stored in higher temperatures.
- Staying cool and comfortable is crucial to staying healthy. Air conditioning is a must, especially during heat waves because fans are not enough to prevent heat-related illness. Cool showers and baths, along with cold food and drinks such as salads and smoothies will help the body stay cool.
- When going outdoors, sunscreen is a must. Buy the appropriate SPF and make sure it has UVA and UVB protection. Replenish as needed to save your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Hats, sunglasses and lightweight, light-colored loose fitting clothing will also keep you cool. Cotton is an excellent choice for fabric. Sunglasses should have UV protection.
- Eat well and maintain a regular meal pattern, even if your appetite is small. Lighter meals along with fresh fruits and vegetables will keep you energized and better able to keep you going throughout the long summer days.
- A tip for light outdoor activities is to do them in the early morning or evening when the sun is not at its peak. Also, limit the time of these activities, especially when it is very hot. Seniors should avoid strenuous activities during periods of high temperatures. Increase fluid intake even more than usual during periods of activity.
- Use mosquito repellent if outside for long periods, particularly at night. Seniors are more prone to West Nile Virus and encephalitis.
Following the precautions and being smart about the heat will help keep you healthy and safe. In the event that you do experience a heat issue, it is important to know the risks and symptoms of heat related illnesses such as Hyperthermia/Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion.
Heat Exhaustion is a milder illness but can develop easily after several days of sun exposure or unbalanced replacement of fluids. Symptoms may include heavy sweating, tiredness, weakness, muscle cramps, headache, nausea, paleness, dizziness, fast or weak pulse, and fast and shallow breathing.
Hyperthermia, or abnormally high body temperature, is common in older adults during the summer. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that is life threatening. It can develop because the body becomes unable to control its temperature; it rises rapidly and loses the ability to sweat so it can’t cool down. Warning signs include high body temperature (greater than 103 degrees); red, hot and dry skin with no sweating; rapid, strong pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness and nausea.
Both conditions require immediate treatments so do not delay is you are experiencing symptoms.
We wish everyone a safe, healthy and happy Summer Season.
“Your Journey. Our Passion.”
Kruse, Gillian, “12 Summer Safety Tips for the Elderly,” Care.com.
“Summer Safety Tips for Seniors,” Caregivers.com.