With summer in full swing, the temperatures are tipping the scale and reaching triple digits. While summer means BBQ’s, beach trips, and late sunsets, it can also be hazardous to the senior population. Older adults are more prone to heat-related health problems and should be carefully monitored throughout the warmer months.
As a caregiver, senior summer health is imperative to keeping seniors safe and healthy. Senior home care services can help avoid summertime hazards, but here are some things to look out for and tips to help the senior population.
Summer Risks for Seniors
As we age, exposure to heat during the summer months poses a bigger threat. Elderly heat stroke, when the body’s internal temperature increases faster than it’s able to cool down, is common this time of year.
According to Health In Aging, every summer, more than 600 Americans die of health problems due to excessive heat and humidity. Seniors are at a greater risk because of increased medical conditions, side effects of medications, and physical changes to the body due to age. Risks also include:
- Lower body water content
- Sweat less
- Lack of awareness to thirst and temperature changes
- Heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
- Vision loss
- Diuretics (causing dehydration)
Seven Tips for Keeping Seniors Summer Safe
1. Keep Hydrated
Make sure seniors have access to plenty of water and sports drinks at all times. Keep liquids within reach of their bed, chair and table. Encourage them to drink, even if they are not thirsty. Steer clear of caffeine, sugar-packed drinks, and alcohol. If they do not like the taste of plain water, try adding fruit and herbs to their water to give it some flavor. Some good combinations are strawberry and oranges, mint and lime, lavender and lemon.
2. Stay Air Conditioned
Air conditioning is important, especially when the heat index is off the charts. Test out the air conditioning before summertime to make sure it is working properly. Spend time at the mall, restaurant, movie theater, library or senior center. Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps those 65 and over with limited income to cover air conditioning and other utilities. To reach your state’s program, call 1-888-674-6327.
3. Dress Appropriately
Wear loose fitting, light colored, and breathable clothing. Cotton and linen are great materials that allow air to flow easily. Dark colored clothes can actually absorb heat very quickly. Wear a wide brim hat when outside to block sun rays and prevent sunburn. Sunglasses are also very important to protect eyes from sun damage.
4. Wear Sunscreen
No matter your age or skin tone, sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is always important! Be sure to reapply after swimming, sweating or long periods of being outside. Even if it is a cloudy day, sunscreen is still very important as the sun’s rays can still cause sunburn.
5. Apply Bug Spray
Bug spray is also just as important to keep mosquitoes away in the summer. Mosquitoes can carry viruses turning them into more than just an evening pest. Older adults have a lower functioning immune system compared to younger individuals. Using bug spray to avoid bug bites can help avoid the potential risk for a virus or infection.
6. Keep Skin Cool
Drinking plenty of liquids helps keep the body hydrated from the inside out. Use tepid water (not too cold, but not too hot) to drink and cool off with. Washcloths or towels can also help keep body temperature down when dampened; apply to hands, feet, neck, arms, and armpits for best results.
7. Avoid Peak Sun-Hours
Stay indoors between the hours of 10AM and 2PM when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Plan outings first thing in the morning or after the sun goes down to avoid over exposure to the sun and humid temperatures.
How Can Senior Home Care Help Combat Summertime Heat?
Keeping seniors safe this summer is an important role of a caregiver. Having a professional, trained caregiver is critical to the health and well-being of seniors throughout the year; especially when the risks are heightened. Senior care services can aid in services such as meal preparation, medication monitoring, companionship, and fluid intake. The home care services provided by a professional caregiver ensure your loved one is staying happy and healthy in the summer heat.
For more information on how Commonwise Home Care can help with senior care services, call 434.202.8565.
Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise or medication routine.