Beat the Heat: Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

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As we age, our bodies don’t adjust as quickly to sudden changes in temperatures, and various medical conditions and prescription medicines can contribute to heat-related illnesses.

This summer, many of us are looking forward to enjoying the warm weather, traveling and reconnecting with friends and family. But it’s important to keep ourselves and loved ones safe in rising temperatures while on vacation, visiting the pool or enjoying cookouts.

Long days in the summer sun can be dangerous for anyone if the necessary precautions aren’t taken, and this is especially true for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people aged 65 and older are more prone to heat-related health problems. As we age, our bodies don’t adjust as quickly to sudden changes in temperatures, and various medical conditions and prescription medicines can contribute to heat-related illnesses.

“Spending time outside can be very beneficial for older adults’ physical and mental health,” said Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead. “After a year of spending most of our time at home, getting exposure to vitamin D is more important than ever. However, seniors need to be aware of potential summer dangers and take proactive safety measures to prevent overheating, overexposure to the sun and dehydration.”

Hogan recommends the following tips to help older adults stay safe this summer.

  • Stay hydrated. Before heading outdoors, make sure to hydrate by drinking plenty of water. Pack extra water bottles for all outings, especially when expecting prolonged periods of time spent in the sun. Consuming water-rich foods like watermelon, lettuce, peaches, tomatoes or strawberries is also a great source of hydration. Be sure to avoid beverages like soda or alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.
  • Protect your skin and eyes. Stock up on sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and at least 30 SPF to protect exposed skin against UVA and UVB rays. Wear a hat and sunglasses to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your face. To stay cool and comfortable in the summer heat, opt for light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • Know when to stay inside. Plan accordingly for your day outside by checking the weather forecast for extreme heat alerts. Keep in mind, the sun is strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so limit outdoor activities to the morning and evening. If it’s too hot, stay indoors in air-conditioned areas, such as shopping malls, movie theaters or libraries. Try out a staycation this summer to beat the heat from the comfort of your own couch or by visiting local attractions.
  • Keep medications properly stored. Rising temperatures may affect your medications, as some need to be stored in cool places to work effectively. Additionally, some medications require seniors to stay out of the sun. Consult with your doctor about any concerns and make sure to read prescription labels to keep medications working as they should.
  • Run the A/C. Many older adults are tempted to save costs by limiting use of the air conditioner as the outdoor temperature rises. This can be dangerous, even fatal. To stay comfortable and save on your energy bill, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78F (26C) when you are home.
  • Stay connected. Having a family member, friend or neighbor visit regularly is a great way to stay connected and ensure your safety during these hot summer days. For those who enjoy gardening or taking a daily walk, make sure a loved one is aware of your routine so they can check-in in the case of an emergency. In addition, make a list of all emergency contacts including family, doctors and caregivers, so you have this information ready if you should need it quickly.

By minding sun safety guidelines and taking the necessary safety precautions, older adults can enjoy the fun and adventure of the summer season.

For more aging tips and resources, visit: http://www.homeinstead.com/care-resources/.

ABOUT HOME INSTEAD 
Founded in 1994 in Omaha, Nebraska, the Home Instead® franchise network provides personalized care, support and education to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Today, the network is the world’s leading provider of in-home care services for older adults, with more than 1,200 independently owned and operated franchises that provide more than 90 million hours of care annually throughout the United States and 14 other countries. Local Home Instead offices employ approximately 90,000 CAREGivers℠ worldwide who provide basic support services that enable older adults to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Home Instead franchise owners partner with clients and their family members to help meet varied individual needs. Services span the care continuum – from providing personal care to specialized Alzheimer’s care and hospice support. Also available are family caregiver education and support resources. Visit HomeInstead.com. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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