Summer’s longer days bring plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and family gatherings. However, it’s also a time when the heat can pose significant health risks, especially to your senior loved ones.
They’re particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of high temperatures due to various factors, including chronic medical conditions, medications and the natural aging process.
With this, caregivers play a critical role in looking after their safety during summertime. By following key summer safety tips for seniors, caregivers can help your loved ones enjoy the sunny season without compromising their well-being.
Here are seven essential strategies caregivers can use to make sure your elderly loved ones are safe during the warm season.
7 Things caregivers can help to keep senior citizens safe during summer
1. Staying hydrated and eating healthy
One of the cornerstone summer safety tips for adults, particularly seniors, is maintaining proper hydration.
To prevent the risk of dehydration, caregivers can encourage your senior loved ones to drink plenty of fluids, even if they do not feel thirsty.
They can also offer water-rich fruits to prevent hydration while providing essential nutrients. These include:
Eating light and healthy meals is equally important for hydration too as heavy foods can increase metabolic heat and water loss. Caregivers can help by preparing nutritious and refreshing food, such as:
- Vegetable dishes
- Lean proteins
2. Avoiding peak heat
For your loved ones’ safety, caregivers can schedule outdoor activities in the early morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are cooler, all while avoiding the sun during the peak heat hours, which is typically from 10 AM to 4 PM.
It’s also beneficial to keep the living environment cool using fans or air conditioning and to dress your senior loved ones in loose and lightweight clothing.
3. Using sunscreen, hats and other sun protection
Sun exposure poses a higher risk for seniors, who may have more delicate skin or have pre-existing health conditions exacerbated by sun damage. Caregivers can help seniors in applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30, which blocks out most harmful UV rays.
Additionally, wearing the following can offer further defense agains the sun:
- Wide-brimmed hats
- Sunglasses with UV protection
- Long sleeves
4. Bringing bug spray and repellents
Insects are more than just a nuisance. As disease carriers, their bite can lead to:
- West Nile virus
- Lyme disease
Caregivers can carry bug spray and repellents, especially if your senior loved ones prefer to spend time in wooded areas or gardens. Look for EPA-registered insect repellents and follow the instructions on the label for safe application.
5. Making sure to cover up the body
While it might seem counterintuitive to cover up in hot weather, wearing the right kind of clothing can protect seniors from UV rays and keep your loved ones cool.
With the caregiver’s help, your senior loved ones can cover up and wear light-colored and loose-fitting garments made from breathable fabrics such as cotton. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants can also shield the skin from direct sunlight, which reduces the risk of sunburn and overheating.
6. Knowing signs of heat stroke
One of the most vital summer safety tips for seniors is for caregivers to recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.
Symptoms may include:
- High body temperature
- Red and dry skin
- Rapid pulse
If your loved one is experiencing any of these, a caregiver can immediately act and move them to a cooler place, offer water if they’re conscious and seek medical attention promptly.
7. Taking breaks and knowing when to avoid the outdoors
Caregivers encourage seniors to take regular breaks during activities to prevent overheating. It’s essential to create a cool and comfortable space where seniors can rest.
On days with extreme heat advisories or high pollution levels, it’s best to stay indoors altogether.
The summertime can be full of joy and relaxation, but the heat can also bring about significant health risks, especially for your senior loved ones.
Caregivers can play an invaluable role in ensuring their well-being during these warm months by incorporating summer safety tips for seniors. This doesn’t only protect seniors from the immediate dangers of hot weather, it can also contribute to a higher quality of life and long-term health.