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5 Tips for Keeping Seniors Safe This Summer

June 4, 2015

5 Tips for Keeping Seniors Safe This Summer
Summer is the time of year many older adults and caregivers look forward to all year long. It is usually a welcome relief from the cold and snowy winters in the Hoosier state. But summer can present unique risks for seniors. One of the most serious ones is Hyperthermia. While most of us are familiar with Hypothermia – that dangerous condition that can occur in winter months – not as many people are aware of the risks associated with too much exposure to sun and heat. For a variety of reasons, older adults are at higher risk for sun-related illnesses ranging from sun poisoning to heat stroke.

Sun Safety Tips for Seniors

Health experts encourage older adults to remember three words that can keep them safer in the summer heat: water, rest and shade. To help you keep the older adults you love safe, here are a few sun safety tips:

  1. Limit Sun Exposure: The sun is usually strongest during the middle of the day. Limiting sun exposure to early morning and evening can help you avoid peak heat and humidity.
  2. Encourage Hydration: Remind the older adults in your life to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. If they perspire a lot, a sports drink may help replace lost electrolytes. Just be sure to read the labels and not overdo it on these drinks. Many are surprisingly high in sugar and sodium. Both can increase the risks for dehydration.
  3. Monitor Medications: If your senior loved one takes prescription or over-the-counter medications, be sure to review potential side effects. Some medications can increase sun sensitivity and cause sunburn or sun poisoning to occur faster than it normally would.
  4. Wear Sunscreen: Many of today’s generation of seniors grew up not wearing sunscreen. As a result, they are less likely to use it when they are outdoors. Encourage your aging parent or loved one to apply it liberally whenever they will be outdoors or riding in the car. In most cases, it should be reapplied every two to four hours.
  5. Good Food Choices: While some foods can help promote hydration, others can contribute to dehydration. On hot summer days a diet rich in foods with a high water content – cucumbers, melon, berries, lettuce – can help prevent dehydration. High protein foods like chicken, fish, yogurt and cheese can help keep blood sugar levels steady.

For more tips on Successful Aging, we invite you to follow our Senior Living Resources blog. We share new information there several times each week.