Even though we’re still in the winter months, it’s never too early to prepare for the heat of the upcoming summer.
Along with children, seniors are at great risk for heat-related illnesses that can have catastrophic consequences. To prevent this, here are some health tips for seniors during the summer.
Stay Hydrated. Drinking water and other beverages is part of everyday life for most people; however, with seniors, it is common for them to forgo the proverbial eight (8)-ounce glasses a day. When it comes to water, you may hear “I just don’t like water” or “I have a glass with meals.” But water offers amazing benefits the most important being to stay hydrated especially during the summer. The key is not to wait until you are thirsty but to drink water and other beverages (soft drinks do not count) throughout the day. But, if you are not a fan of water, other drinks are good too – think Gatorade and juice (as long as it is 100% fruit or vegetable juice).
Find Indoor Activities. Probably the best way to avoid the summer heat is to find indoor activities. Residents at Conservatory At Keller Town Center senior living community are fortunate to have an activities director who plans outings to area attractions that are most often indoor during the summer. Think about going to the movies, malls to walk (and shop), museums, and other places that are air-conditioned.
Dress Appropriately. Your mother always says “it is best to layer.” That is especially true in the summer. Going from the comfort of your air-conditioning to the outdoor heat and back to the A/C can wreak havoc on your system. First you feel fine, then you are hot, then you get chilled. That is why she is right – it is best to layer and take a sweater where ever you go. Another item to always have with you is a hat with a wide brim. If you are outside, a hat is very helpful at blocking the sun especially if you are not as blessed with a full head of hair like you used to have.
Exercise Appropriately. If you like to walk or participate in outdoor sports, you have two choices: do it very early or take it indoors for a couple of months. Heat stroke is very common with the elderly and often hard to know it is imminent. Additionally, the elderly are not as prone to perspiration as their younger counterparts. It is just easier to modify it until the weather cools. Note that there are days here and there during the summer when the temperatures drop slightly allowing you to enjoy the outdoors. And, if you decide to go out, let a neighbor or someone at home know where you are going and when you should return.
Wear Sunglasses. It is very common for the elderly to have vision issues and loss which can be further aggravated by the sun. Sunglasses with UV protection are an essential item to have during the summer as they block the harmful rays not to mention make it much easier to be outside.
Apply Sunscreen. No matter your age, it is always important to wear sunscreen during the summer. If you plan on spending any time outside, be sure to lather up. There is nothing worse than sunburn.
Keep the Bugs Away. With mosquitos and other bugs transmitting West Nile Virus and other “bugs,” you should always have bug spray within arm’s reach as the elderly are very susceptible to these illnesses.
Forgo the Caffeine. Caffeine acts as a diuretic which may cause your kidneys to go into overdrive and increase your trips to the bathroom. When this happens, you can become dehydrated so it makes sense to forgo the caffeine. If you are like a lot of people, though, and literally need caffeine, get your caffeine fix in the morning at breakfast and limit it to a minimum – just enough to prevent that awful headache.
Not Only for Seniors
These tips are not only for seniors. Most anyone should be aware of ways to stay safe in the summer. Hospitals see an increase in the number of visits to the ER due to the heat. Taking a little extra time to think about being careful is the best way to go.