These summer safety tips for seniors will help prevent heat-related complications while allowing older adults to fully enjoy the warm summer months.
With the extra hours of daylight the summer months bring, there’s more time for outdoor fun: picnics, gardening, swimming, and more. Yet as the temperature rises, there’s also a heightened risk for a variety of heat-related conditions that can be extremely dangerous for older adults, such as:
Heat edema (swelling)
Heat syncope (dizziness or lightheadedness)
Heat stroke – the most serious condition, which necessitates immediate medical attention, with symptoms such as:
Dry, flushed skin
Elevated body temperature
A decrease in perspiration
Changes in pulse rate: strong and rapid or slow and weak
Loss of balance
Changes in behavior: agitation, confusion, moodiness, and others
Fainting, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness
An older adult with any of the following conditions is at an even greater risk of experiencing problems from overheating:
Heart, lung, or kidney disease and other chronic health conditions
High blood pressure
Taking certain types of medications, such as sedatives or diuretics
Poor blood circulation
Thankfully, there are some simple summer safety tips for seniors you can incorporate today to help the older adults you love enjoy summertime to the fullest. Keep these recommendations in mind:
Keep it cool. Ideally, the older person’s home is air conditioned, either centrally or with individual units in rooms where the senior spends most of their time. If not, close all of the blinds in the home during the day, and keep air circulating with fans. In the early morning and evening, open up the windows. If it still feels uncomfortable in the home, find cooler places for the older adult to visit during the day: see a movie together, spend time at a senior day program, settle into a comfortable chair at the library with a good book, etc.
Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is crucial throughout the year, but especially during the hot summer months. Plain water is best, but if it’s more palatable to the senior, flavor it with cucumber, lemon, or orange slices. Keep a small pitcher of cold water within easy reach of the older adult throughout the day.
Plan activities wisely. Exercise and any other physically-exerting activities should be done early in the morning or in the evening, especially if these activities are done outdoors. More sedentary activities are safer as the temperature rises.
Rethink your wardrobe. Cotton and other natural fibers that are breathable will be most comfortable. Add a large hat for shade and protection from the sun’s rays when stepping outside, and be sure to use plenty of sunscreen as well.
Stick with a buddy. It’s always a good idea to partner an older loved one with a friend or family member during get-togethers. This person can make sure the senior stays cool and comfortable and preempt any potential problems that may arise.
At Visiting Care Giving Services, the leading provider of at-home care in O’Fallon and the surrounding areas, we love helping older adults stay safely active and engaged all summer long. Our caregivers make great companions for fun activities and conversations, and we can help with a variety of tasks around the house as well, such as preparing meals, helping with housework, and much more.