Life is pretty good right now in the Pacific Northwest. School is out for the year; the sun has come out to stay for a while and everyone is happy. Summer has officially arrived!
We are just a little bit excited. After all, we have had to live through months of rain and cold weather to get to this point. If you’re anything like us, then you likely have Summer activities planned every weekend from here until Labor Day.
However, with all the fun in the sun planned, the Summer weather and increased outdoor activity can pose significant health and safety risks for your elderly loved one.
As a matter of fact, statistics show that high summer temperatures can increase the risk of death for people who suffer from chronic lung disease, diabetes, heart attack sufferers and heart failure sufferers. In addition, researchers found that mortality risk for those aged 65 and older increases slightly during the summer.
Fortunately, with the proper knowledge of what to look for and how to remedy it, you can ensure your loved one stays safe during these hot months. Below you will find 8 ways to help your elderly loved one have a safe, fun and memorable Summer.
Dress for Success
As in any season, dressing appropriately for the weather during the Summer is critical. We suggest wearing clothing that fits loosely and is light in weight and color. The darker the color, the more it soaks up the heat. In addition, wearing full coverage hats and sunglasses that block out UVA and UVB rays can keep your head and eyes safe from the rays.
Lather on the SPF
Whether its cloudy or hot with clear skies, whenever your elderly loved one ventures outdoors make sure you have them apply sunscreen to their skin. This prevents them from burning and harming their skin. Experts recommend opting for sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher.
Drink the Right Liquids
Staying hydrated in the Summer could mean the difference between a good time and a hospital visit, and not all liquids are created equal. During the hot summer months, you will want to limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine your loved one drinks because they accelerate dehydration. Your loved one should aim to drink 8 or more 8 ounce glasses of water or juice each day. Finally, since your body is losing sodium and potassium through sweating it is good to drink sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade to stave off dehydration.
Enjoy the Cool of the Day
Everyone loves the Summer because the good weather makes getting outside for activities that much more enjoyable. However, during periods of extreme heat you should plan your outdoor activities/chores for early in the morning or in the evening once the temperature cools off. As a matter of fact, many recommend staying out of direct sunlight during the peak hours of 10 am- 3 pm.
Huddle Around the Air Conditioning Unit
Ok, so you don’t really have to huddle around it, but we do recommend spending Summer days with extreme heat in a cool, air conditioned building. Fans will work good as long as the building temperature does not exceed 85 degrees. If you do not have an air conditioning unit and your building is uncomfortably hot, there are many public buildings that have air conditioning including libraries, malls and community centers to name a few.
Check Your Medicine
Many elderly loved ones take daily medication. Since there are some medicines with side effects that include increased sensitivity to sunlight, it is important to check your medications. If your loved one does take a medicine with that side effect, consult a doctor to see what their options are.
Don’t Forget the Bug Spray
As we all know, Summer is synonymous with mosquito season. Not only are bug bites annoying, elderly loved ones are more susceptible to contracting diseases such as West Nile Virus. So, before your elderly loved one treks outside, make sure they spray on some insect repellant.
Know the Signs of Heat Stroke/Exhaustion
If your loved one spends extended periods of time in the heat, please be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you would like to know more about heat exhaustion you can read our blog regarding the topic here: Heat Illness.
Finally, if you care for an elderly loved one and would like help developing a care plan of any kind please feel free to contact us. Wiser Home Care Services can help your family establish a care plan to personally accommodate your loved one’s needs.