We all look forward to summer and the fun it holds. People of all ages enjoy activities under the sun, but when seniors are involved, staying cool takes on added importance. Caregivers need to make sure that fun and safety go hand in hand so that seniors can enjoy being outdoors without ending up in the emergency room. Sun stroke can occur quickly and without notice, but thankfully there are easy ways to avoid it. Here are some ways to make sure that caregivers keep seniors safe in the summer heat.
Drink, Drink, Drink
As people age, and/or are experiencing ill health, their body may lose its ability to signal thirst. Sometimes it is a factor of declining senses and other times it is a side effect of medication. Regardless of the cause, caregivers of seniors need to keep a close eye on fluid intake to make sure they stay well hydrated, especially in the summer heat. If the senior has a history of heart failure or kidney disease, make sure to strike the right balance so they don’t become over-hydrated.
- Keep track of every cup of fluid the senior drinks and aim for at least eight, 8 ounce glasses of fluid each day. Offer them fluids throughout the day- every sip adds up!
- Ice cream, popsicles or slushies count as good fluids, but sugary drinks, coffee and tea can actually dehydrate.
- It’s best to drink in the morning and afternoon to avoid waking frequently, and/or incontinence at night.
Fun in the Sun, Relaxation in the Shade
- Walking is great exercise and it’s best to do so during the cooler hours of the morning or the evening. Walk a shady route, preferably one with benches for resting. If shady routes aren’t available, bring along an umbrella and wear hats that provide shade.
- Always bring water along on a walk.
- For those who are fragile, a short walk from the house to a chair on the deck, porch or garden is good exercise. It will increase mobility, lubricate the joints, and give the senior a pleasant view of the outdoors and some fresh air.
- If the senior has access to a pool, water exercise is one of the best activities to maintain strong, flexible muscles. The water provides resistance to exercise muscles, while providing buoyancy that protects the joints and avoids injury.
It’s important to remember that those who are aging or in ill health may have diminished mental capacities. Think twice before leaving them in the car alone. Those suffering from dementia may play with the air conditioning controls, or try to operate the car. They may lock themselves inside or out of the car, creating additional hazards. Caregivers must always remain one step ahead of the senior to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.