Did you know as summer temperatures soar, senior adults become increasingly vulnerable to heat-related health risks? While this may hold true throughout the nation, by taking certain precautions, Older Americans, their caregivers and adult children can help reduce or eliminate those risks. As we think about how to best protect you and your loved ones this summer, let us share nine tips for keeping aging adults safe during hot summer months in our blog.
1. Hydration. Staying hydrated is a foundational building block for overall health. Staying hydrated, however, can be challenging for seniors for two main reasons. First, summer heat induces increased sweating, and, second, most older adults have a diminished ability to conserve water. Be sure to increase your water intake during the warmer months.
2. Cover Up. Light-colored and loose-fitting clothes can help reduce the ill-effects of sun exposure, while keeping the body cool. Hats are also a great way to protect the head and neck from sun damage.
3. Visit the Doctor. It’s never a bad idea for seniors to check-in with their doctor. Doing so at the outset of summer offers an opportunity to evaluate whether any medications could make them more susceptible to high temperatures.
4. Sunscreen. Caregivers and adult children can help seniors protect their skin by reminding them to apply sunscreen when going outdoors. Keeping sunscreen in several convenient places can help create a routine.
5. Plan Activities Wisely. Plan activities inside air conditioned spaces whenever possible. If this is not an option, try to plan early morning or late evening outside excursions to avoid the hottest, and arguably the most dangerous, parts of the day.
6. Keep Emergency Numbers Handy. Dizziness and confusion can be early signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which can creep up without much forewarning. Seniors should keep a list of emergency contacts on hand to expedite medical care. If your aging loved one has a smartphone, be sure to fill out the emergency responder information or consider using a prescription management app to keep a list of medications on hand.
7. Hire Help as Needed. Gardening, yardwork, cleaning, and anything else that may heighten the risks of heat exposure, just aren’t worth the risks for Older Americans. Ask if a family member can help with these responsibilities. If there is no one close by, consider hiring someone for outside chores and projects.
8. Review Medications. It’s not only critical to review and understand potential side effects of a senior loved one’s medications, but medicines are typically heat sensitive and should always be kept in cool places. Again, be sure the Older American has an updated list of medications easily available at all times.
9. Stay in Touch. In the summer months, and throughout the year, keep in regular contact with senior loved ones and monitor their exposure to summertime heat as much as possible. Try to always be available to answer questions and do not wait to ask how you can help your loved ones.
We know this article may raise more questions that it answers for you. While it is not always easy or convenient to ensure that you or your aging loved ones have the necessary support, try to make time to address concerns as they arise. Do not hesitate to ask us your elder care related questions this summer or at any time throughout the year.