Fresh air and sunshine is what summer is all about. It is a time for outside fun and relaxation. The sun helps ward off depression and sharpen cognition, and it’s a great way to get that important source of Vitamin D. We must also remember the damage that the sun’s harsh rays can have on our senior adults’ skin. We want to make sure our seniors know how to stay safe while getting the benefits of the wonderful summer weather, and taking the proper precautions is the best way to help prevent emergencies before they happen. Here are some great tips that aging adults, as well as their caregivers, can use to make sure they have a fun, safe summer.
1. Stay Hydrated
Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people. This is because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. They also tend to become less aware of their thirst and have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes. Family and caregivers should make sure seniors are drinking plenty of water or sweat replacement products (those that contain salt and potassium) such as Gatorade to replace water they lose while in the summer sun.
2. Talk to Your Doctor
Check with your doctor before spending time outside in higher temperatures. Make sure you aren’t on any medications that may be affected by temperature changes. For instance, amiodarone is known to increase the sensitivity of skin to sunlight. Too much sun exposure could cause serious sunburn. The last thing anyone wants is for a preventable medical condition to become aggravated or another condition occur due to high temperatures.
3. Avoid Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion, also known as hyperthermia, is a potentially life-threatening condition that happens when your body’s core temperature rises several degrees higher than is normal. This can be due to exposure to hot temperatures outside and dehydration. If you notice that you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms, get them to a cool, shady place, and seek medical attention immediately:
A body temperature at or above 104 degrees
Dry, flushed skin
Changes in behavior, like confusion, agitation, or episodes of anger
Heavy, labored breathing
Inability to sweat even though very hot
Nausea or vomiting
4. Protect from Insects
During the summer, the sunshine and the increase in active insects can be dangerous to your health, so take steps to protect your skin from what nature throws at it. Insects’ bites and stings can cause infections, diseases, and in some individuals, a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Find a bug spray or insect repellent that works best for you. If you have really sensitive skin, consider using area sprays, candles, and bug lights to cut down on summer pests.