Summer can be a season that is filled with dangers, especially for older adults. According to Health in Aging, about 200 Americans die each year as a result of humid, high heat weather. Some of the dangers the summer heat can cause include dehydration, heat stroke, and skin cancer. For some, being on certain medications can make their health problems worse by spending too much time in the sun. With the help of an elder care provider and these tips, your loved one can stay healthy and safe during the hot summer days.
- Turn on an air conditioner. If an air conditioner is available, use it. It will keep the home cool, even when the temperature continues to climb outside. If an air conditioner is not available at the elder’s home, take a trip to a place that is air conditioned. This could be a family member’s home, the library, the mall, or go to a movie theater.
- Drink a lot of water. Seniors’ bodies lose water quicker than any other age group, causing them to become dehydrated easier. Some medications may also result in dehydration at a rapid rate. In order to keep your loved one hydrated, they should be drinking water throughout the day. Encourage your elderly parent to carry a water bottle with them and remind them to drink up. Older adults often are not able to recognize that they are thirsty until they become dehydrated, so they will need you or an elderly care professional to constantly have them drink water. Iced tea, fruit juices, and juicy fruits (such as watermelon) are also ways to keep the elder hydrated.
- Make good clothing choices. Wearing the right clothing will keep the elder cool, while also keeping them covered in order to avoid sunburn. They should wear loose-fitting, lightly colored clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses in order to keep their skin protected without becoming overheated.
- Wear sunscreen. Because the bodies of older adults are more fragile than others, they are also more prone to sunburns. To keep the skin protected from the hot sun, elders should wear broad spectrum with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Wait to go outside. The hottest parts of the day are between 10 am and 4 pm. Going outside either early in the morning or at night will prevent your loved one from spending too much time in the hot sun.
- Stay cool. Some additional ideas to keep your loved one cool are to encourage them to take lukewarm baths or place wet washcloths on their faces, arms, ankles, or neck.
With these tips, older adults will be able to have fun in the sun without worrying about heat-related health problems.