Beat the Heat With These Tips on Summer Safety for Seniors
Barbecues, vacations to the beach, fishing trips at the cabin — enjoying the great outdoors is what summer is all about.
Aging shouldn’t stop you from taking pleasure in summer activities.
Extreme heat, over-exposure to the sun, or too little hydration can all lead to a very dangerous situation if you aren’t careful.
Thankfully, you don’t have to risk your health to have a great time this summer. Follow these summer safety tips for seniors so that you and your loved ones can enjoy summer and the activities that come with it.
Table of Contents
10 Summer Safety Tips for Seniors
#1: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Research shows that if you’re thirsty, you’re already becoming dehydrated.
But older adults are typically less aware of thirst, and as we age, our bodies naturally lose the ability to conserve fluid — which makes it even more important for seniors to …
… especially in the summer months.
Instead of risking your or your loved ones’ health during those hot summer days, our number one summer safety tip for seniors is to drink consistently throughout the day.
Consider setting an alarm as a reminder to help create a routine of drinking six to eight cups of water a day.
#2: Wear Proper Sun Protection
As we age, so does our skin. Aging affects the elasticity of our skin, the amount of moisture it retains, the amount of collagen it produces, and how sensitive it is to outside factors like the sun.
But the effects of aging don’t end there.
Our immune systems become weaker over time, so seniors’ bodies may struggle more to repair sun damage. This is why not only wearing sunscreen but knowing how to wear it correctly is vital as we age.
When choosing sun protection, it’s important that seniors:
Opt for a broad spectrum sunscreen
Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more
Apply a generous amount of sunscreen every two hours
Look for water-resistant sunscreen
#3: Dress Right
Summer safety for seniors involves more than just wearing sunscreen outside. Seniors should wear protective clothing when hanging out in the heat.
Consider wearing …
Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts
Lightweight, long pants
Clothing designed to filter UV rays; and
UV filtering sunglasses
… to not only protect your body from UV rays but also help maintain a reasonable body temperature.
#4: Avoid Going Out in High Temperatures
High heat and humidity can mean risky business for seniors. Temperatures that may have been tolerable at one point in your life can have a bigger impact on your health as you age.
Avoid unsafe temperatures by looking at the day’s forecast before leaving the house. Don’t forget to check the level of humidity throughout the day, too.
On days where temperatures are just too hot to handle, or may negatively affect your health, consider getting outside early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the worst of the heat.
#5: Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two serious medical conditions that can quickly become dangerous for seniors.
Knowing what signs to look for during the summer is vital to staying safe. Some of the most common signs of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses include:
Red or flushed skin
If you or your loved one start to experience any of the above symptoms, don’t wait — find a cool place to sit down, relax, hydrate with water or an electrolyte drink, and apply a cold compress to the skin.
If symptoms persist, seek medical care as soon as possible.
#6: Know Your Medication Interactions
Some medications may cause your body to be more sensitive to the sun. These may include:
Antibiotics — ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, levofloxacin
Antifungals — flucytosine, voriconazole
Antihistamines — cetirizine, diphenhydramine, loratadine
Cholesterol-lowering medicines — simvastatin, atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin
Diuretics — thiazide diuretics: chlorthalidone, chlorothiazide, and other diuretics such as furosemide and triamterene
NSAIDS — ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen
Oral contraceptives and estrogens
Retinoids — acitretin, isotretinoin
Sulfonamides — acetazolamide, sulfadiazine, sulfasalazine
Sulfonylureas for type 2 diabetes — glipizide, glyburide
Make sure you and your loved ones know if your prescription medicine requires you to take extra precautions in the sun.
Seniors taking these prescriptions may not have to forego outdoor summer activities altogether, but it is important to talk with your doctor to ensure that any guidelines for summer safety for seniors are being followed.
#7: Keep It Cool
Remember, as we age, it becomes harder for our bodies to maintain a specific temperature. And although your electric bill may be a nagging reminder of the heat during the summer months, summer safety for seniors involves keeping cool — or at least comfortable.
Keep your or your loved one’s home cool by letting the air conditioning run, especially as temperatures reach 90°F and above. Room temperature can significantly affect a senior’s:
Ability to communicate; and
Risk for hyperthermia
These reasons alone make it vital that seniors and their loved ones learn about the ideal room temperature for their unique lifestyles.
8: Prevent Trips and Falls
When you think of weather-related trips or falls, you’re likely imagining a time when it’s cold and icy outside — but summer can be just as risky.
When on unfamiliar terrain, especially, seniors should still take caution. Outdoor rugs, pool decks, sandy shores, and even uneven patio flooring can quickly become a safety hazard.
Our tips for summer safety for seniors to avoid unnecessary slips and falls include:
Keep areas well-lit and clean
Wear comfortable, well-fitting, non-slip footwear
Make sure glasses and walking devices are in top shape
#9: Check In With Loved Ones
Summer safety for seniors tends to involve a group effort. One of the best ways to help the seniors in your life practice summer safety is to help them stay in contact with family or friends.
Check in with your loved ones regularly throughout the summer. Learn more about their daily activities, encourage them to drink water regularly, ensure their air conditioning units are working, and help them limit their exposure to the sun.
Try to schedule a visit regularly during extreme temperatures for an added comfort layer.
#10: Always Consult A Doctor
Before summer heats up and the activities begin, you or your loved one should consult a doctor. Find out if there are any limitations they recommend or learn about any concerns they may have.
Talk with your doctor about any concerns and what you can do about them to remain healthy and safe while still enjoying the season.
Practicing Summer Safety for Seniors Is Critical to Their Health & Well-Being
Seniors are more vulnerable to heat and dehydration, so taking extra precautions during extreme heat or humidity is an absolute must.
By encouraging senior loved ones to …
Wear protection from the sun’s UV rays; and
Understand the signs of heat-related illnesses
… you can reduce the risk of accidents and incidents due to summer heat.
Senior Services of America: Promoting Health and Wellness in Seniors Throughout Every Season
At Senior Services of America, we understand the importance of the safety, health, and well-being of every individual in our communities.
That’s why each of our communities offers a wide range of services and amenities including:
Comforts of home
Daily meal options
Assistance with activities of daily living
We encourage residents to remain as independent as possible and to continue to live meaningful and purposeful lives.
Our goal at Senior Services of America is to help residents stay engaged in life mentally, physically, and emotionally.
We offer a positive environment that inspires and encourages our residents — and our team members — to reach their full potential.
Find your nearest community to speak to an advisor.