With the recent hot summer weather the heat and sun can be dangerous especially for the elderly. Proper precautions should betaken – below are some tips that the elderly can use to make sure they stay safe and have fun in the sun this summer.
- Stay Hydrated
Elderly people lose their ability to conserve water as they age. They also can become less aware of their thirst. Remember to drink water often, and be sure to pack some for long summer journeys.
- Talk to Your Doctor
Check with your doctor or nurse to make sure any medications you are on won’t be affected by higher temperatures. Some medications are less effective if stored at temperatures higher than room temperature.
- Keep Your Cool
Even small increases in temperature can shorten the life expectancy for older patients who are coping with chronic medical conditions. “Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature.
- Stay in Touch
High temperatures can be life-threatening, so communication plays an important role in ensuring the safety of the elderly. You should let friends and family know if you’ll be spending an extended period of time outdoors, even if you’re only gardening.
- Know Who to Call
Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and place them in an easy to access area. This way, the right people can be called to help quickly.
- Wear the Right Stuff
Remember to dress for the weather. When it’s warm out, some people find natural fabrics (such as cotton) to be cooler than synthetic fibres. Stock your summer wardrobe with light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes to help feel cooler and more comfortable.
- Protect Your Eyes
Vision loss can be common among the elderly, and too much exposure to the sun can irritate eyes and cause further damage. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and preserve your vision.
- Know the Risks of Hyperthermia
During the summer, be particularly cautious about abnormally high body temperatures — a condition known as hyperthermia. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that can be life-threatening. Make sure to know the warning signs and get medical attention immediately if you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms:
- Body temperature greater than 104 degrees
- A change in behaviour, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy
- Dry, flushed skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse
- Not sweating, even if it’s hot out
If you (or an elderly loved one) start to feel any of these symptoms, ask for medical help and then get out of the heat, lie down and place ice packs on your body.
- Rub on Sunscreen and Wear Hats
Every one, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. The elderly especially need the extra sun protection to help keep them healthy. Hats are also a great idea, especially for those with light coloured hair and those with only distant memories of a full head of hair.
10. Apply Bug Spray
If you live in areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes and if you spend a lot of time outdoors (particularly at night), use mosquito repellent to help reduce the risk of getting bit and getting a disease.
More Than Mobility Team