Top 5 Senior Summer Safety Tips
Summer is in full swing in Edmonton and we have some great senior summer safety tips. It is a time where everyone eagerly emerges from the long winter hibernation to frolic in the warm weather. Summer is a time to celebrate and enjoy the sunshine. It is important to ensure you set up everything for success. Summertime holds some challenges for the elderly. Our bodies respond differently to temperature and UV rays as we age. What was once an easy activity can become a difficult or even health-threatening experience. If you have elderly loved ones, read on for our senior summer safety tips on how to make this summer fun and safe for them.
1. Beat the Heat
Heat stroke and dehydration are key factors to maintain a close eye on for your aging loved one. Physiologically, seniors’ bodies struggle to handle the extreme temperatures. Aging bodies lose their ability to detect thirst and retain water, making the elderly more prone to heat-related issues. Tips to beat the heat and stay hydrated include:
- Drink water and/or electrolyte-replacement sports drinks (especially for seniors who tend to sweat more)
- Eat foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, and nuts
- Eat smaller portions; eating large meals produces more body heat
- Minimize consumption of dehydrating substances such as caffeine and alcohol
- Wear light-coloured loose clothing made of natural fabrics like cotton – breathable materials help keep the body cool and lighter colours absorb less heat
- Get out of the house with a trip to an air-conditioned location like the movie theatre or shopping mall
2. Check your Meds
This tip is twofold; first, check the temperatures that their medications are being stored at, as extreme temperatures can affect the potency and effects of a medication. Store medications no colder than 15 degrees or warmer than 30 degrees Celsius. Car interiors and homes without air conditioning often reach higher than 30 degrees during a heat wave. This is something to keep in mind throughout the summer. On this same note, be sure you store your medications in a cool, dry place (pro-tip: avoid the humidity of bathrooms or counter space that receives direct sunlight).
Secondly, check the medications you or your loved ones are taking for heat-related side effects. Some medications can interfere with the body’s thermoregulatory mechanisms. It is important to be aware if their medications are increasing their sensitivity to heat or sunlight. By knowing this, you can plan accordingly and be ready with extra sunscreen or more scheduled breaks from being outdoors.
3. Prepare for the Outdoors
It’s good for seniors to get out of the house and get some fresh air, and the summertime is a beautiful time to enjoy the outdoors. It’s important to ensure your loved ones are well prepared for their outings to set them up for success.
- Keep a water bottle on hand to maintain water intake any time they leave the house
- Plan frequent breaks to sit out of the sun and avoid strenuous outdoor activities.
- Exercise during the early morning or evening
- Protect your aging loved ones from the sun with a hat, sunglasses, breathable clothing that covers the body
- Frequent application of a good sunscreen
- Get a good insect repellent; mosquitoes can transmit diseases, so preventing those bug bites helps keep our immune-vulnerable seniors healthy
- Check the forecast before leaving the house
4. Be Ready for the Worst
Considering the worst case scenario may not be pleasant, but it does help with being prepared for any outcome!
- Be aware of the signs of heat-induced illnesses like heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Some signs to watch for include headache, feeling faint, lack of sweating, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and body temperatures exceeding 104 degrees. If your loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, get them out of the heat and cool the body down with ice packs. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
- Create a list of emergency phone numbers and place them on the refrigerator or another easy-access location.
- Call Alert buttons are a great investment in your loved one’s safety and your own peace of mind. With an alert device, seniors can be independent with the added security of having help if they need it. Devices like this are especially helpful if your loved one enjoys going on solitary walks or doing activities where falling is a potential risk.
5. Maintain Health and Fun Activities with a Caregiver
Aging affects the mind and the body; activities that seemed easy once can become much more challenging, and common sense may be lost as memory disorders and impaired reasoning develops. While dressing in light clothing and preparing for the outdoors with sun protection may seem an obvious thing to do, such things can be lost on someone battling a memory disorder. When self-sufficiency begins to fade, bringing in a caregiver to help your senior loved one make healthy decisions and enjoy activities can help them maintain their quality of life.
For example, if your loved one enjoys gardening but has lost the physical ability to keep up with it, have a caregiver spend time with them in the garden and tackle the more laborious tasks on their behalf.
Don’t have a garden of their own? Set up a day trip with their caregiver to take them to the Botanical Gardens to enjoy the foliage (in Edmonton, the Devonian Botanical Gardens and the Muttart Conservatory are stunning). It is essential to their mental and emotional well-being to find ways to help your beloved elders continue to enjoy the things that bring them joy.
These summer safety tips for seniors can help you and your elderly loved ones enjoy the warm summer weather with added security and peace of mind. For more information on how to keep your seniors living a full, safe, enjoyable life, explore our website.
Harmony Caregiving is a local Edmonton homecare agency bringing more peace and dignity to the seniors and families we serve. If you have questions or would like to talk to somebody about home care, call us at 780-328-3917 or fill out our contact form.