Summer is many people’s favorite season, but high heat, humidity, and sunshine can pose safety concerns for the older population. If you care for an aging loved one, keep these senior care tips in mind to make summer safe and healthy for everyone.
Sun Protection Tips for Seniors
Overexposure to the sun’s UV rays can be harmful at any age, but older adults are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. After all, the skin becomes thinner and more brittle with age, and seniors often take medication that can increase light sensitivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even lists “older age” as a risk factor for skin cancer.
To help protect your loved one from sun exposure, follow these senior care tips:
- Avoid spending time outside during the peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm.
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
- Check the sunscreen bottle from last season and throw it out if it has expired.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Reapply hourly or anytime you towel off while swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
- Seek shady spots when spending a long time outside to reduce sun exposure.
- Read medication warning labels to see if they make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. If so, stay in the shade or remain indoors while on that medication.
Hydration Tips for Seniors
Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but it’s especially critical for seniors. The body loses some of its ability to conserve fluids with age, and older adults are often less aware of being thirsty. They may also take medications that make them dehydrated. As a result, seniors have a higher risk of being hospitalized for dehydration.
Summer is the most important time to stay hydrated because of the high temperatures and extra exertion that typically come with the season. Here are some tips to help your aging loved one drink more water:
- Provide water flavored with fruit, cucumbers, or a dash of lemon and lime juice to make drinking water more enjoyable.
- Prepare more fruits and vegetables, which are naturally hydrating.
- Set an alarm as a reminder to pause the current activity and take a drink.
- Carry a water bottle everywhere and drink from it regularly.
- Cut back on caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and increases the likelihood of dehydration.
Tips for Seniors to Keep Cool
It doesn’t have to be 100 degrees outside for seniors to develop hyperthermia, or an abnormally high internal temperature caused by the body’s failing heat-regulation mechanisms. Because the body loses some ability to manage temperature changes with age, most people who die from hyperthermia are over 50 years old. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, high or low body weight, and heart, lung, or kidney disease.
If you’re concerned about an older loved one succumbing to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, provide proper senior care in summer with these tips:
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothes when walking, gardening, or simply spending time outside.
- Exercise in the morning or evening when temperatures aren’t so extreme.
- Escape to a cooling center such as a library, movie theater, or shopping mall if there’s no air conditioning at home.
- Install AC if possible. Even a window air conditioner in one room provides an “oasis” to escape to when the temperature climbs outside.
- Eat cool foods, such as salads, sandwiches, fruit smoothies, and cold soups.
- Take a cool shower to bring the body temperature down.
- Open the windows at night to let cool air inside the house.
Summer Exercise Ideas for Seniors
There’s no shortage of ways for seniors to be active in the summer. Pleasant weather makes this the perfect time for outdoor activities, but there are also plenty of indoor options when it’s too hot. Here are some ideas:
- Spend time in the garden planting and watering flowers, herbs, or vegetables. Container gardens and raised flower beds prevent having to kneel on the ground, so consider growing plants this way.
- Swim a few laps at the neighborhood or city pool. Just remember to wear sunscreen! Swimming in an indoor pool is another option to prevent excessive sun exposure.
- Take a walk around the block. Nature walks and hikes are also an option for more physically fit seniors. Call a friend or invite someone to join in to make the walk a social affair.
- Do 10 to 20 reps of an exercise or movement during commercial breaks while watching TV.
- Walk around the mall or other air-conditioned indoor space to avoid overheating.
- Try yoga at home, outside, or at a local studio. Just avoid hot yoga this time of year, which involves exercising in a heated room.
- Check out the fitness classes offered at a local senior center. These may include spinning, tai chi, water aerobics, yoga, and more.
Arrange Senior Care This Summer
Many find summer vacation to be restful and relaxing, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially while raising a family and simultaneously providing care to a senior loved one. To help minimize stress, you may want to arrange in-home senior care this summer. This provides peace of mind, knowing your family member is in good hands when you can’t be there. It also allows you to go on vacation without worrying about leaving your loved one alone.
The compassionate team at BrightStar Care is dedicated to providing knowledgeable, trustworthy care to seniors experiencing any level of physical or cognitive decline. We offer a full range of home care services, including non-medical personal care, companion care, and skilled nursing care, depending on your needs. To learn more about arranging senior care during summer, please contact us at 866-618-7827.