Summer Safety Tips for Seniors
- Contact Your Doctor
Check with your medical team to make sure any medications you are on won’t be affected by higher temperatures — especially if you don’t have air conditioning in your home. Some medications are less effective if stored at temperatures higher than room temperature (approximately 78 degrees Fahrenheit), and the last thing anyone wants is for a preventable medical condition to become aggravated due to high temperatures.
- Drink Plenty of Water
Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. They also can become less aware of their thirst and have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes. Remember to drink water often, and be sure to pack some for those long summer drives. Caregivers should make sure seniors are drinking sweat replacement products (that contain salt and potassium) to replace water they lose during the summer.
- Dress Right
Everyone, including seniors, should dress for the weather. When it’s warm out, some people find natural fabrics (such as cotton) to be cooler than synthetic fibers. Stock your summer wardrobe with light-colored and loose-fitting clothes to help feel cooler and more comfortable. Sunscreen & Hats everyone, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. The elderly especially need the extra sun protection to help keep them healthy. Caregivers, family and friends can help by gently reminding loved ones about applying sunscreen and helping to put it on when necessary. Hats are also a great idea, especially for those with light colored hair and those with only distant memories of a full head of hair. And Put Shades On Vision loss can be common among the elderly, and too much exposure to the sun can irritate eyes and cause further damage. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and preserve your vision.
- Stay Cool
Even small increases in temperature can shorten the life expectancy for seniors who are coping with chronic medical conditions. Shopping malls, movie theaters and libraries provide welcome, cool spaces if a senior’s own home isn’t air conditioned. They also afford a great opportunity to get out of the house and get some exercise, without the exhaustion of the heat. Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. Some chronic medical conditions and prescription medications can impair the body’s ability to react efficiently to rising temperature.
- Beware of Hyperthermia
During the summer, be particularly cautious about abnormally high body temperatures — a condition known as hyperthermia. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that can be life-threatening. Make sure to know the warning signs and get medical attention immediately if you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms:
1-Body temperature greater than 104 degrees 2-A change in behaviour, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy 3-Dry, flushed skin 4-Nausea and vomiting 5-Headache 6-Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse 7-Not sweating, even if it’s hot out 8-Fainting
If you (or an elderly loved one) start to feel any of these symptoms, ask for medical help and then get out of the heat, lie down and place ice packs on your body. Do not stay out for long periods and make sure to drink even more water than usual.
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