The longer days of summer mean additional time for swimming, family cookouts, gardening, and all of those other delightful seasonal pursuits. However, it also means an elevated risk for a variety of health concerns for the elderly, who happen to be more vulnerable to heat-related complications such as:
- Heat syncope (faintness/dizziness)
- Heat cramps
- Heat edema (swelling)
- Heat exhaustion
- And the most serious: heat stroke, an emergency necessitating prompt health care, presenting with symptoms such as:
- Fainting, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness
- Behavioral changes including moodiness, irritation, confusion, loss of balance, and others
- Increased body temperature
- Flushed, dry skin
- Pulse rate that is either weak and slow or rapid and strong
- A lack of sweat
Compounding the risk are factors such as:
- Acute conditions, for example lung, heart, or kidney disease
- High blood pressure
- Certain medications, such as diuretics and sedatives
- A BMI that is above or below average
- Consumption of alcohol
- Poor blood circulation
- And others
What are ways to best help the seniors you love enjoy everything summertime offers, while preventing a medical crisis? Our caregivers put together some important summer safety suggestions.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Ensure an abundance of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages are always within easy reach of your older relatives.
- Maintain a cool home environment. In case the house is not air conditioned, make sure window shades are kept shut throughout the day, fans are utilized, and windows are opened every night. If it is still uncomfortably warm, consider alternative arrangements during the day, such as attending an adult day program or spending time at the shopping mall or library.
- Plan activities appropriately. Restrict exercise and other physically-exerting activities to the coolest times during the day: in the early morning or evening. It’s also recommended that you try to avoid running errands during peak times when stores tend to be more crowded.
- Dress wisely. Loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibers, such as cotton, are most comfortable. When outside, add a large hat for shade, and naturally, an abundance of sunscreen.
- Assign a buddy. During family get-togethers, designate someone to be readily available to maintain a close watch on older family members to make certain they remain comfortable.
For more summer safety suggestions for seniors, get in touch with Hearts at Home In-Home Care, providers of top-rated home caregivers in Kansas City and the surrounding areas. We’re also the ideal companion for seniors through the summer season and beyond, providing as much or as little care and support in the home as necessary to ensure optimal health and wellbeing, including meal preparation and monitoring food and fluid intake, engagement in pleasurable conversations and pastimes, transportation to fun outings, and much more.