Summer Safety Concerns for Seniors to Be Aware Of

Summer Safety Concerns for Seniors to Be Aware Of
Almost everyone loves summer. It typically brings the triple-pronged joy of sunshine, the great outdoors, and more time spent with family. As we age, however, hotter temperatures require us to develop a whole new awareness of how the heat affects the body.

Seniors Should be Aware of These Summer Safety Concerns

Seniors are typically more vulnerable to heat-related problems than the rest of the population. They are also less likely to sense changes in temperature. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of the safety concerns they face once the thermometer starts heading north of 80.

Here’s a quick guide to those concerns. Whether you’re reading this for yourself or a senior loved one, it’s good advice to follow as we head into the summer months.

Exercise and the Heat

Seniors who follow regular exercise routines are certainly on the right track as far as wellbeing is concerned. However, the dog days of summer don’t always provide the ideal conditions for sporty ventures. In fact, top dangers for seniors in summertime are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Seniors who want to stay fit and healthy should consider modifying their workouts to accommodate higher temperatures and humidity. Here are a few ideas for your senior loved one (or you) to try:

  • Join a gym and take advantage of their air conditioning.
  • Exercise in the early morning before the sun is at its peak.
  • Switch to swimming or water aerobics for the summer.
  • Drink lots of water (unless your doctor has you on a fluid-restricted diet – then check with your doctor first).

Indoor Air Temperatures

Another concern is not having air conditioning. A common solution is to spend one’s days in public places that are air conditioned. Even if you can stand spending every day at the mall or the library, you’ll have to go home eventually. That’s when the hot indoor air can be a hazard to your health.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to never let your (or your loved one’s) home get above 85 degrees — and that’s pushing it! Using fans makes a big difference but the CDC warns not to rely upon them in extremely hot weather.

Some states, such as New York, have programs that provide air conditioners for residents who have medical conditions. Check with your state and local agencies on aging to see if there’s a program in your area and whether you or your loved one qualifies.

Medications and the Heat

It’s not just seniors who suffer in the heat. Prescription drugs need to be kept cool, too. According to the FDA, medicine should be kept between 75 and 77 degrees (24-25 C). A hotter medicine cabinet may mean your medications can lose stability. That presents any number of risks including that they can be inactive or less effective. Both of which mean you’re effectively changing the dosage.

Chronic Medical Conditions and the Heat

Having a chronic health condition is hard enough on seniors, but the heat may make the situation worse. Plus, the medication some seniors take for chronic illnesses can cause the body to respond badly to higher temperatures. Ask your or your senior loved one’s doctor or pharmacist to see if the medications that have been prescribed cause sun or heat sensitivities.

More Resources for Seniors and Their Families

The list of heat-related concerns for seniors doesn’t stop here, but this covers the most pressing of them.

Do you have further concerns about helping a loved one (or yourself) stay safe this summer? Please feel free to browse our family resources area to learn more about senior safety and for more tips on family caregiving.