Summer Fun in RecoverySummer is a wonderful time to enjoy the great outdoors, but the harsh sun and high temperatures can present dangers to aging adults. Heat exposure can put seniors at an increased risk of health problems, from dehydration to heat stroke. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the summer sun without risking a medical emergency. To keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and prevent heat related illness, follow these tips for staying safe in the hot weather this summer.

  1. 1. Avoid Direct Sun Exposure

    While exposure to sunlight in moderation is good for people of all ages, it has its dangers as well. Sunburn affects the elderly just as much as younger people. The sun's UV rays can damage your skin, causing sunburn in the short term and eventually leading to skin cancer. When you go outside, make sure to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

    Spending time in the sun for just 10 to 15 minutes three times per week is enough for older adults to reap the benefits of sunlight. Schedule outdoor activities carefully: try to venture outside in the morning or evening to avoid the harsh midday sun. Check the heat index before going outside, and take frequent breaks to rest, cool off, and stay hydrated.

  2. 2. Stay Hydrated

    Staying hydrated is essential all year round, but it is especially important in hot weather. Being hydrated aids in your body's ability to regulate its temperature so you have less of a chance of overheating in the hot weather. It also helps with joint mobility, sleep, and cognition, allowing you to make the most of the summer weather.

    Drink plenty of water and clear juices, and try to avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine-- these can actually cause your body to lose water. Food can also help your body get the water it needs: raw fruits and vegetables have the highest water content and taste great on a hot day.

  3. 3. Stay Cool

    The best way to beat that heat is to stay cool indoors. Spending time in a building with air conditioning is extremely important in extreme heat. If your home does not have air conditioning, go somewhere that does. A friend or family member's house, a shopping mall, the movie theater, or a community senior center are all great options.

    If you need to cool down, try taking a cool shower or bath-- but make sure the water is not too cold. If you don't have the time or energy, you can wet a washcloth or towel with cool water and place it on areas like your neck and forehead.

  4. 4. Dress Appropriately

    Dressing for the summer weather goes a long way in protecting you from the sun and heat, so choose appropriate clothing. It is best to wear clothing that is light in color so that it reflects the sunlight rather than attracting it. Loose fitting clothing and breathable fabrics like cotton and linen are also great for staying cool. To protect your skin and eyes from the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses while outside.

  5. 5. Know Your Medications' Side Effects

    Certain medications have side effects like increased sun sensitivity and drowsiness. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to learn if any of your medications have harmful interactions with sunlight.

  6. 6. Watch Out for Heat Exhaustion

    Excessive heat can cause health problems that are serious and even deadly. To avoid heat related illnesses like dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, know the early warning signs, which include the following:

    • Disorientation
    • Dizziness
    • Dry and/or hot skin
    • Heavy sweating or no sweating
    • Lethargy and fatigue
    • Nausea
    • Stomach cramps
    • Flushed face
    • Rapid heart rate

    If you notice any of these symptoms, get out of the heat immediately. Move to a cool place away from direct sunlight and drink plenty of liquids, like water or a sports drink. If your symptoms do not improve, call 911.

  7. 7. Utilize a Home Health Aide

    If you or an elderly loved one are in need of extra support while at home, utilizing a home health aide (HHA) could be a great option. Home care through senior care specialists like Gallagher Home CareĀ allow aging adults to live at home and retain their independence with help from a trained HHA.

    HHAs are hand-selected to provide individualized care to patients. HHAs can help seniors with tasks such as:

    • Bathing
    • Cooking
    • Taking vitals
    • Monitoring general health
    • And more.

The summer months can be a scary time for aging adults and their families. However, having a trained professional around to ensure that aging adults are staying safe and healthy in the heat can ease some of that anxiety.

If you are concerned about the health of a loved one this summer, Gallagher Home Care can help. We provide a full range of home care services to ensure that your loved one is safe, comfortable, and well taken care of. Schedule your free evaluation today, or call us at (412) 279-2257 to learn more!