Summer Safety Tips for SeniorsJuly 8, 2022
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy,” or so the song from “Porgy and Bess” says. But for seniors, extra precautions may be necessary to ensure that you can enjoy summer weather safely. That’s because as the body ages, it may be more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Older adults tend to sweat less, so your body may not regulate temperature as effectively. Certain medications may make you more vulnerable to heat and dehydration. In addition, the body’s fluid reserves become smaller, and the ability to recognize thirst can diminish. So, as you plan summer excursions to Lake Spivey, picnics at Panola Mountain State Park, family barbecues, or even a neighborhood walk, keep in mind these tips for summer safety for seniors:
You know to drink six to eight glasses of water a day, but in summer that may not be enough. To stay hydrated, make sure to bring water when you’re going on an outing. Take advantage of summer’s bounty and enjoy foods with high water content, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes. And consider reaching for a sports drink that can replace vital electrolytes, especially if you’re experiencing the symptoms of dehydration, which can include:
- Dry lips and tongue
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Passing out
- Irregular heartbeat
Avoid Extreme Heat
Plan outdoor activities or chores like gardening and lawn care for the cooler times of the day— before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. During heat waves, stay in air-conditioned spaces — libraries, malls and movie theaters are cool indoor havens where you can beat the heat. Keep an eye on weather reports, too. The “feels like” number factors in humidity and temperature and can give you a more accurate sense of how comfortable you’ll be outdoors. Also notice the dew point: Anything over 55 points to muggy conditions; over 65 suggests high moisture content in the air, which can make it harder to regulate body temperature.
Choose Appropriate Clothing and Accessories
Keep your cool in clothes that are lightweight and loose-fitting. Also choose light-colored outfits that will reflect, rather than absorb, the sunlight. Accessories can also be part of the summer safety for seniors strategy. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, and the delicate skin around your eyes, from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. And consider carrying your shade with you. A lightweight, wide-brimmed hat — such as a straw hat that allows your body heat to escape — can protect your face, scalp and ears from sunburn while offering a small amount of portable shade. Or carry an umbrella. According to research, the temperature under a parasol or umbrella may be 11 degrees lower than the air temperature beyond your personal shade.
While you’re prepping for the heat, remember to apply sunscreen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most cases of skin cancer are found in people over age 65.
Water is more than a thirst quencher. It can also help keep your body and your environment cool.
A tepid shower or bath or even a sponge bath can lower your body temperature if you get too hot, as can that classic summertime pleasure — a dip in the pool or lake. Also consider applying a cool washcloth or ice to parts of the body where the veins are close to the surface, such as your wrists, neck, temples or chest; this lowers the temperature of the blood running through your veins.
A misting fan can help keep the temperature in large outdoor spaces more comfortable.
Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness
As you consider summer safety for seniors, it’s helpful to know the signs of heat-related illness. In addition to dehydration and its symptoms (listed above), you should also be aware of these heat-related conditions:
Heat stroke: Warning signs include a body temperature of 104 F or higher; red, hot, dry skin, a fast pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, lethargy or passing out. If you notice these symptoms, call 911. Then move to a cool shady place, loosen or remove heavy clothing, douse yourself in cool water and try to drink fluids, if possible, while waiting for emergency medical care.
Heat exhaustion: Symptoms are high body temperature, heavy sweating or no sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, paleness, cold and clammy skin, dizziness, headache, nausea, fast pulse, fainting. Move to a cool, shady location and drink water or sports drinks with electrolytes. Call 911 if you don’t feel better promptly.
Heat syncope: This is a condition in which high temperatures cause fainting. Lie down with your feet up and drink water or sports drinks.
Cool as a Cucumber at Oaks Senior Living
Oaks Senior Living communities give active seniors the chance to do more of what they love, while we take care of the hot summer chores like grounds keeping or exterior home maintenance. Plus, with our dining options you don’t even have to stand over a hot stove — we’ll do the cooking, and you can partake in the tasty fare on our chef-prepared menus. Whether you want to strike out for adventures on your own or enjoy the many on-campus activities with new friends and neighbors, you’ll find plenty to enjoy, no matter what the weather is like. Contact us to find out more about the senior living options in Oaks senior living communities.