Most people think summertime is filled with warm weather, sunshine and relaxation. It provides most with the opportunity to be outside and enjoy time with loved ones doing a variety of activities. For the elderly, however, those same appealing pastimes can be dangerous when seniors and their caregivers do not take the proper precautions.
We’ve compiled our top ways to make sure your loved one has a safe and happy summer:
1. Limit Sun Exposure
One of the greatest things about summer is the sunshine. Sunshine is a great source of Vitamin D, which 40%-75% are deficient in. However, too much sun can lead to things like skin cancer, heat stroke and hyperthermia. Seniors especially need extra sun protection to keep them healthy. Always apply sunscreen of at least 30 SPF when outdoors. If spending extended time outside, look into sun safety clothing like hats, UV protectant shirts and sunglasses.
2. Avoid the Heat of the Day
Similarly, one of the top things to consider for senior summer safety is to avoid being outside during the heat of the day. Temperatures for the summer months can get dangerously high. Heat like that can dehydrate and incapacitate a senior in less than one hour. Seniors who like to do activities like gardening, yard work and outdoor exercising should be encouraged to do so around dawn and dusk.
3. Know Signs of Heat Stroke
Heat strokes mainly affect people over the age of 50, and can cause serious brain damage, organ damage or even death if not recognized early on. Being informed about what causes heat strokes and the signs to watch for can save a life. The most common signs of heat stroke for seniors are:
- Throbbing headache
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Lack of sweating despite the heat
- Red, hot and dry skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Behavioral changes such as confusion or staggering
4. Be Careful of Slip & Falls
A great way to beat the summer heat is spending time in or near water! Boats and pools are fun and exciting activities, but senior safety is not always top priority in these scenarios. Caregivers should be extra aware during these activities of things like surfaces that are slick or uneven. Adding water to an already unsafe surface can get extremely dangerous. Always make sure seniors hold railings, are extra aware when moving and deliberate in their steps. Also, explore investing in some non-skid sandals for added safety!
5. Stay Hydrated
As one ages, bodies becomes more susceptible to dehydration because of several factors: A body’s ability to conserve water is reduced, thirst sense becomes less acute and the ability to adjust to temperature changes is decreased. Dehydration occurs when someone uses or loses more fluid than is being drunk and is a common occurrence in the warmer months. Make sure with any outdoor activities water intake is increased and monitored to remain at peak healthiness.
6. Stay in Touch
One of the most important parts of summer senior safety is communication between seniors and their friends, family and caregivers. During the summer, for optimal safety, communication should be scheduled on a regular basis. If a designated connection time is missed, actions should be taken to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. In the case of not being able to get in touch with a loved one, err on the side of caution and check in on them or have someone (neighbor, caretaker or police) come to ensure they are okay.
Following these guidelines gives seniors the ability to have a fabulous summer full of activities that everyone enjoys while ensuring they remain happy and healthy. What are some of your favorite summer activities to do? Share with us on our Oaks Senior Living Facebook using the hashtag #OaksSafeSummer!