Summer usually brings much excitement and readiness to get out of the house. That’s a positive thing in itself; however, seniors should take extra precautions against the heat before making summer plans. Excessive heat can be fatal for everyone, especially for seniors. Every summer, over six hundred Americans die from health issues that were caused by high heat and humidity.
And it isn’t just seniors who are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses. People with chronic health problems are also at greater risk of suffering from heat-related issues. So if you’re a senior with chronic health concerns, then you need to be even more careful.
However, you can still spend time outside by following the right precautions. With these summer safety tips, you can still enjoy your summer activities, included in your assisted living. Here are our 7 tips for seniors to safely enjoy their summer activities.
1. Look at Your Prescriptions
Check on your prescriptions and their side effects. For example, some medicines increase sensitivity to sunlight. Ensure that you understand your medications and whether or not you need to take extra precautions. It surely won’t mean that you can’t do outdoor activities this summer. More likely, the safeguards will include some of the things mentioned on this list.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
It’s commonly suggested to consume six to eight cups of water each day. This is especially important if you plan on staying out in the sun for longer periods. Also, it doesn’t hurt to go above that amount if you’ll be in the sun for extended periods. A good water bottle or two can go a long way in helping you to drink more water; you can challenge yourself to finish them off before heading home.
Also, you shouldn’t only rely on your body to let you know when you need to drink. A big issue that seniors face is becoming less aware of when they are thirsty. Therefore as a senior, you must be proactive in keeping hydrated. And be sure that you drink mostly water and not juice, soda (or any other caffeinated beverages), sports drinks, and definitely no alcohol. You want to limit alcohol and caffeine because they can make your body lose more water by causing you to urinate more.
3. Recognize Heat-Related Illnesses Before They Happen
These tips should be able to help you prevent a heat-related illness. However, it’s still a good idea to be prepared for a worst-case scenario situation. Learn more about the symptoms of heatstroke, dehydration, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion by reading up on them online. If you think you’re feeling any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to speak up and request some water, time indoors in air conditioning, or some extra shade. The discomfort you feel about speaking your mind will be more preferable to a trip to the hospital.
4. See the Weather Forecast Before Venturing Out
The last thing you want to happen is to be taken by surprise with a 100+ degree day. So ensure that you check up on the weather before heading out. That way, you’ll be able to dress the part and schedule your activities appropriately.
When it comes to dressing, here are some tips for what to wear:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing with lighter colors
- Avoid darker clothing as it can absorb heat
- Don a lightweight, broad-brimmed hat
For seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s, assisted living can help with planning and scheduling activities. After all, you don’t want to risk going on a hike too far from your car when the temperature is soaring in the afternoon. If the heat begins to feel unbearable, you’ll want to have an exit strategy from the outdoor activity so that you can get indoors and cool down.
5. Be Careful Not to Stay Outside for Too Long
We all know the California heat can be unbearable sometimes, so you should try not to stay outside for too long. Don’t plan out your entire day in the sun. It’s better to plan outdoor activities early in the morning or after the sun has set.
If it’s hot out, just do an outdoor activity for a couple of hours at most and then head on inside to cool off for a while. While inside, you could cool off with tepid (not too hot or too cold) baths, showers, or sponge baths. If it isn’t the right time or place for those things, you can always just use a wet towel or washcloth soaked with cool water. Dab it on your neck, wrists, armpits, and ankles.
People don’t always feel the effects of the sun right away, but the results can become more severe if you don’t monitor how long you stay outside on a hot day.
6. Keep Your Sunblock Somewhere Handy
It’s important to not only have sunscreen but to have the right kind of sunscreen. It should be a broad spectrum type and have an SPF of 15 or more. Apply it generously to all parts of the skin that are exposed. Bug repellent is also a good idea since bugs are especially prevalent outside during the summer.
For women, it’s best to always keep sunscreen in your purse. You can also put some in your car or wherever you think that you can easily reach it. If you think you’ll have to re-apply it, set an alarm to remind you on your phone.
7. Take Advantage of Your Air Conditioning
Yes, it’s not free, but you don’t want to be vulnerable to those devastating summer heatwaves. Ensuring your own comfort and safety in your own home is more than enough reason to spend that extra money. If you lack good air conditioning, consider it an investment into your health.
If you are having trouble affording it, spend your time during the hottest parts of the day elsewhere. For example, at your local mall, library, or basically any public place that’s easily accessible and has good air conditioning. Then, take advantage of that cool air while you’re there, and head back home when the weather starts to cool off.