Summer is quickly approaching and with it comes family vacations, outdoor barbecues, long days at the pool, and a lot more time outside in the sun. It’s a time to celebrate being with friends and family, but it’s also important to remember that summer brings unique challenges and dangers to seniors. From extreme heat to sun overexposure and dehydration, it’s important to be aware of summer dangers so you can make the most of the season!
6 Tips for Summer Safety
Summer is a time of fun and relaxation but for seniors, the heat and sun can be dangerous. These six practical tips can help seniors and their families have a fun and safe summer!
1. Talk to your doctor
At your next appointment talk to your doctor about the approaching heat and how your medications may be affected. Some medications are affected by higher temperatures and need to be stored in cool places, which can be problematic for seniors without air conditioning. If these medications become affected they can become less effective and a preventable medical condition can become aggravated. Other types of medication require seniors to stay out of the sun. Be sure to talk to your doctor and read labels on medication to stay safe and keep medications working as they should.
2. Be aware of the temperature
Studies have shown that even a small increase in temperature can shorten the life expectancy for seniors with a chronic medical condition. When the temperature soars, find ways to stay cool if your home does not have air conditioning. Shopping malls, senior centers, movie theaters, and libraries all maintain a cool temperature throughout the summer and can be a great way to get out of the house without exposure to heat.
3. Stay connected
If you are planning on spending the day outdoors gardening or hiking, let a family member or friend know so that they stop by and check on you in case of an emergency. Additionally, if you are the family member or friend of a senior, check on them regularly. The heat can isolate seniors and regular contact can help ensure their safety.
4. Dress appropriately
Stock your summer wardrobe with natural fibers, like cotton, that tend to be cooler than synthetic fibers. Light colored and loose-fitting clothing can help you stay cool and be comfortable. Consider clothing that has sun protection built in if you are going to be spending time outdoors. Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats to keep the sun off your face and skin.
5. Know the signs of heat stroke
Abnormally high body temperatures are common in the summer and result in a condition known as hyperthermia. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that can be fatal. Knowing the warning signs of hyperthermia can help prevent heat stroke. Get medical attention immediately if you or a loved one experience these symptoms:
- Not sweating
- Heavy breathing
- Rapid pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry, flushed skin
- A sudden change in behavior (confusion, agitation)
- Body temperature higher than 104 degrees
6. Stay hydrated
Seniors are more likely to become dehydrated because as we age, we lose our ability to conserve water. Additionally, some medications increase the risk of dehydration and some medical conditions make it less likely for seniors to realize they are thirsty. Pack extra water for any outings and drink sweat replacement products to replace lost water. Avoid soda, coffee, and alcohol which can be dehydrating.
How do you stay safe in the summer heat? Share your tips with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!