Summer is a time for outdoor fun! However, the heat and sun of summer can be dangerous if proper precautions are not taken, especially for seniors. A University of Chicago Medical Center study found that 40 percent of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over 65.
Use these tips to help you deal safely with the summer heat:
First and Foremost, Keep Hydrated
Seniors are more prone to dehydration, so drink at least eight glasses of water a day while avoiding the dehydrating effects of alcohol and caffeinated drinks. If you are spending time outdoors in the heat make sure to increase your water intake proportionately. One tip to ensure you remain hydrated is to weigh yourself both before and after going outdoors and replace any weight loss with water. Make sure you also bring a water bottle outside with you. Unfortunately, our sense of thirst diminishes as we age and we cannot conserve as much water.
Find Ways to Stay Cool
High temperatures can be life-threatening for anyone, but especially for seniors. If your home is not air-conditioned, visit a friend or relative’s home when temperatures soar. Senior centers, shopping malls, and libraries are further options to stay cool. Lookout for heatstroke symptoms! These include high body temperature, dizziness, headache, confusion, and nausea. Seek medical attention quickly if these signs are present.
Dress for the Season
Fill your summer wardrobe with light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Instead of synthetic materials, choose cotton and other natural fabrics that are more lightweight and breathable. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat will keep the sun off your face and neck while providing you shade.
Use More Sunscreen
Look for sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB and apply at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply as needed throughout the day.
Protect Your Vision
Exposure to the sun can irritate your eyes and cause vision damage. Wear sunglasses when exposed to the sun and keep a backup pair in case you lose them or they break.
Avoid Activity During the Sun’s Peak Hours
Plan outdoor activities for early in the morning before 10 a.m. or later in the afternoon after 4 p.m. when exposure to the sun’s rays is lower. Hydrate even more than usual when exercising.
Use Bug Spray
The elderly are more susceptible to the West Nile virus, so be sure to protect yourself with bug spray, especially at night. Keeping a small travel-size can or spray bottle of bug spray with you can help make sure you’re prepared.
There are so many enjoyable activities to take part in during the summer months. Taking a few common-sense precautions and making sure you are prepared will help ensure you have a safe and memorable summer.