May 23, 2017 by Kristina Butler
There's no denying it – summer is just around the corner. While there are a plethora of amazing summer activities for seniors to participate in, there are some precautions that should be taken in order to maximize safety. For seniors who count on in-home senior care to help with daily living activities, a senior care provider should also help ensure proper planning and care.
Hydration. The primary key to safe summer fun for all ages is proper hydration. This is even more important for seniors, as seniors dehydrate faster than younger individuals. The standard of eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day should be increased when activity levels increase or summer activities lead to an increase in sweat and perspiration. Water intake should also be increased if caffeinated or alcoholic beverages are consumed since these drinks increase the risk of dehydration.
Medication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average senior over the age of 65 takes 5-8 different medications each day, and many take upwards of 10. Many medications commonly taken by seniors are called "sun-sensitizing", since they have side effects when the person taking them is exposed to the sun. Among the most common of these medications are a number of non-steroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-depressants, antibiotics, and many allergy medications. Taking one or more of these medications does not mean that a senior cannot go outside or enjoy the sun, but they should drink extra water, ensure they are properly covered, and take extra precautions when using sunscreen.
Cover. While a nice tan is sometimes viewed as a sign of health, it can also be the first step to skin problems, including cancer. Seniors who want to slow age damage to their skin, dramatically decrease the risk of cancer, and reduce the effects the sun has on medication should limit the amount of skin exposed to the sun, especially when its rays are the most potent (10am to 3pm). Wearing long sleeves and long pants made out of light, breathable material is the best. Today, there are even clothes that have a UV sunblock built into the material. All exposes skin should be covered with a broad spectrum sunblock of at least SPF 15. An SPF of 30 or greater is recommended for hot, sunny days. Hats and sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection are also highly recommended.
Regulation. Moving from extreme to extreme is hard on the body. Try to avoid frequently moving back and forth from high heat to air conditioning. If possible, plan to stay indoors during the hottest portions of the day. That said, homes should be kept below 80 degrees. If the home gets too hot, consider going to the mall, library, theater, or another public place during the hottest portions of the day.
Information. Every senior care provider should know the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. In the event that a senior starts to overheat, it is important that first aid is provided quickly. In the event of heat stroke (dry skin, flushed face, high body temperature, headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, or a loss of consciousness), call 911 immediately, get the senior out of the heat, and start to lower the body temperature with ice.
Most seniors look forward to summer all year long and have enjoyed them since they were children. Sadly, summers can be hard on seniors if they do not take proper safety precautions. For more information, contact a Comfort Keepers senior care coordinator today.
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