7 Summer Safety Tips for Seniors
But we’ll remember the summer of 2016 for another reason: record-breaking heat. Before summer had even started, the year was already trampling records for high temperatures.
For seniors, intense sun and extremely hot temperatures can pose serious risks. As we age, our ability to sweat declines and the chance of dangerous dehydration increases. To stay safe during the dog days of summer, consider these seven tips.
- Drink Plenty of Fluids
As individuals age, the ability to maintain water in the body declines, increasing susceptibility to dehydration. In addition, seniors may not notice thirst as quickly and may have trouble coping with drastic changes in temperature. Especially in hot weather, make sure you’re drinking frequently — take along a sports drink with salt and potassium on drives and walks.
- Know When to Get Help
Make sure you know the signs of hyperthermia, or very high body temperatures. Heat stroke, in particular, can be extremely dangerous. Get immediate medical attention if:
- Your temperature exceeds 104 degrees.
- Your skin is dry or flushed.
- You’re nauseous, vomiting or have a headache.
- You feel confused or agitated.
- Your pulse is fast or your breathing is heavy.
- You’re not sweating in the heat.
- You faint.
- Dress Appropriately
To stay cool, try natural fibers like cotton, and wear loose-fitting garments in light colors. If you frequently change environments and temperatures — for instance, going from the outdoor heat to indoor air conditioning — wear layers that you can quickly put on or remove.
- Skip the Caffeine
Caffeinated beverages can contribute to dehydration, so enjoy liquids sans caffeine — ideally, a sweat replacer or plain water — rather than a regular iced coffee or tea. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, flushing critical liquid out of the body through the kidneys.
- Communicate with Loved Ones
If you plan to spend time outdoors in the extreme heat, be sure to let loved ones or friends know. Even if you’re just gardening, the high temperatures can quickly cause health problems, and it’s important to have someone check on you periodically.
- Protect Eyes and Skin
Excessive sun exposure can damage and irritate your eyes; wear UV-protective sunglasses for maximum eye safety anytime you’re outdoors. And be sure to slather on some high-SPF sunscreen and wear a hat when you’re heading out to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
- Manage Your Medications
Many medications don’t mix with heat and sun. Some meds can cause photosensitivity, and extreme heat can affect quality and potency of both prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you understand any heat-related risks.
By taking the proper precautions, you can enjoy a fun-filled summer as you beat the heat and protect your health. At Havenwood Heritage Heights, we’re committed to the health and wellness of seniors. To find out more about our active retirement lifestyle, please contact us.