The hot, humid months of summer can present unique challenges for seniors. There are a variety of potential problems you need to be on the lookout for this summer ranging from sun poisoning to a heat stroke. We thought it would be helpful if we shared a few senior citizen summer safety tips as we head toward the official start of summer.
Tips for Staying Safe During the Summer Months
1. Stay hydrated. You’ve probably heard and read plenty of times by now that health experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water every day. In the hazy days of summer, make it a priority to hit that mark, especially when outdoors. It is one of the best ways to prevent heat-related illness and sun stroke. Many foods have a high water content that can help to improve hydration. Among them are watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, lettuce, green pepper, cauliflower and berries.
2. Limit sun exposure. The hottest time of the day is between noon and 4:30 pm. It is best to avoid going outdoors during those hours of the day when the mercury rises over 80 degrees. If you enjoy outdoor activities like walking or gardening be sure to do these things in the morning or later in the evening.
3. Review medications for side effects. Drugs commonly prescribed as we age can increase the risk for heat-related illness. They include medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and some of the anti-inflammatories. They could result in heat exhaustion and sunstroke occurring more quickly. Consult with your doctor to find out if any of your medications pose a potential problem.
4. Don’t Skimp On Sunscreen. One of the most common health mistakes people make in the summer is not using an adequate amount of sunscreen and not applying it frequently. As we grow older, our skin becomes thinner. It means we can experience sunburn more quickly and potentially even develop sun poisoning. Dermatologists recommend applying at least the equivalent of two tablespoons of sunscreen every two hours.
5. Cover up in the sun. While that might seem counterintuitive when you are trying to stay cool, it will help protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Make sure you have a hat that shades your face, sunglasses and a loose-fitting, lightweight shirt to throw on before heading outdoors.
6. Tick patrol can prevent Lyme disease. An increased amount of time spent outdoors puts people at higher risk for attracting ticks. That also applies to your furry friends. Before heading back indoors, make sure to go on tick patrol. Inspect your body and your pets for any signs of ticks.
7. Prevent food poisoning during summer barbecue season. No summer is complete without a few barbecues with family and friends. One of the difficulties of outdoor picnics and potlucks is maintaining food at proper temperatures. Foods that are considered high risk during the summer heat include prepared salads, dairy products not kept on ice, beef, seafood, fish, pork and poultry. Food poisoning can be especially dangerous for older adults who have health conditions that may weaken their immune system.
8. Overheated homes are especially hazardous for older adults. Rarely does a summer go by that we don’t hear about a tragic outcome for someone who lived in a home without air conditioning. Older adults may be more reluctant to use air conditioning even if they have it because of the expense. Make sure your family has a safe place to cool off during the hottest times of the day. Senior centers, the local mall and the library are all good places to go to stay cool.
9. Finally, be sure to review and learn the warning signs of heat related illnesses.
The key to helping someone who runs in to problems in the summer sun is to get medical attention immediately.