Summer Safety Tips for Seniors
Summer can be a dangerous time for anyone because of heat and overexposure to sun, but older adults are especially susceptible to these summertime issues such as dehydration, skin damage, and other health risks from excessive heat. Keep yourself safe this season. Follow these summer safety tips for seniors to make sure your summer is worry free and filled with fun.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Staying hydrated is an important aspect of maintaining your health during the summer months. Hydrating does not just mean drinking water when you feel thirsty. Once you realize you are thirsty, your body has already become dehydrated.
By consuming 6–8 glasses of water per day, you prevent dehydration and the symptoms that appear quickly in summer months, such as headaches and fatigue. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine when heat exposure is imminent; these beverages are diuretics and prevent you from staying properly hydrated when it is very hot outside. Drink plenty of water to maintain a healthy level of hydration.
Review Medications for UV Light Sensitivity Warnings
Some medications, such as statins used for lowering cholesterol or certain antibiotics, cause increased sensitivity to UV light, increasing the chances of sunburn. Talk to your doctor about your prescriptions to see if your medications react with UVA or UVB light.
If you discover your medication has adverse reactions to sunlight, wear long sleeves, pants, and wide-brimmed hats made of lightweight material that can block the sun and prevent sunburn while still keeping you cool. Wear proper protective clothing to prevent overexposure when outdoors.
Some prescriptions can also be less effective and lose potency if they are exposed to higher temperatures. These medications become weaker or stop working altogether if left out in the sun or in a hot space for too long. Your medications help keep you healthy; keeping them out of the heat is an easy way for seniors to stay safe this summer.
You may typically like to enjoy nature with a walk or jog outside, but on extremely warm days, switch it up and swim at a nearby pool or try indoor exercises like yoga. Staying out of the sun and heat while exercising lowers your chances of heat stroke. If you do wish to exercise outdoors, start your workouts early in the morning or later in the evening. Avoiding the hottest part of the day is imperative to stay healthy during the summer. While exercising, remember to drink even more water than usual. Even light exercise in the summer months can lead to dehydration quickly.
Be wary of heat stroke when exercising outdoors in the summer.Signs of heat stroke include confusion, dry skin, appearing disoriented, becoming easily tired, frequent and severe headaches, nausea, lethargy, and a quickening pulse. If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Keeping your body cool and well hydrated is key for a safe summer.
Use Air Conditioning
Everyone wants to save money, but turning off the air conditioning during hot summer months puts you at risk of overheating. Although not in direct sunlight, it is still possible for a too-warm house to cause heat stroke. You do not need to turn the temperature down extremely low to stay safe. Set the temperature around 74–76 degrees for a comfortable yet safe environment. Using air conditioning to keep cool is an important aspect of summer safety for seniors.
If you do not have air conditioning in your home, visit relatives or friends, spend a few hours at a public mall, or take a class at a local senior center during the hottest parts of the day. In the evenings and mornings, keep windows open to allow for airflow throughout your home.
Accessorize for the Sun
Sun hats and sunglasses protect eyes and face from sun exposure. Glasses that block UVA and UVB rays help reduce the chances of cataracts and vision degeneration that occur with age. Too much sun on your face increases wrinkles and skin damage. This becomes more of an issue for older adults as their skin loses its elasticity. Wear proper sun protection and keep your skin looking healthy this summer—at any age
Don’t Forget Sunscreen
When purchasing sunscreen, look for one that is SPF 15 or higher. If you sweat profusely or get in water, be sure to reapply sunscreen. Sunburn makes skin warm and red, but it sometimes results in painful blisters, peeling skin, and high fevers.
A cool shower or bath can help alleviate the pain of minor sunburn. Cream that contains aloe soothes and moisturizes skin damaged by the sun. Since sunburn effectively dehydrates your body, drink more water for a few days after any overexposure to the sun.
Proper sunscreen application will prevent sunburn or other skin damage during the summer.
Have a Communication Chain
Maintain constant communication family members or friends. In case of a health issue, these people will know that something is wrong much sooner. While emergency medical devices are extremely helpful in any event, a great backup is someone that expects to hear from you and can check up on you if they cannot get in touch. If family and friends do not live nearby, make friends with your neighbors to have a closer connection. Just having a person to check in will make your summer a lot safer.
Make a Travel Plan
When traveling, research weather conditions to be prepared for severe heat or impending precipitation. If traveling to a different time zone, talk to your doctor and adjust your medication schedule accordingly. Bring extra doses of your medications along just in case, and put these emergency doses in a different container. That way, if you lose your main supply of medications, you will still have enough to last until you can get to a doctor.
Before leaving for your trip, have your doctor write up a document that you carry at all times that lists your medications, any medical conditions, and the necessary treatments in case of an emergency.
While summer heat and exposure can be hazardous, good preparation reduces the risks and ensures your only focus is enjoying each day. Plan for activities and trips ahead of time to know what clothing is needed to prevent sunburn. If your medication increases these chances, continue applying sunscreen to uncovered areas and wear loose-fitting clothing that covers the rest of your body. Use every method available to keep cool and avoid direct sunlight. Exercise indoors, if possible, and set up a reliable point of contact as an additional safety precaution.