Summer is the season to travel and enjoy the great outdoors. But spending time outside is a little more complicated for seniors. They are vulnerable to conditions and reactions that younger adults simply don’t experience.
It’s vitally important to help seniors get out of the house and spend time getting some fresh air. But, remember these 5 things before you spend any extended time outside in the hot summer elements with a senior citizen.
1. Always Check the Forecast
Don’t let the weather surprise you. Before you spend time with a senior outdoors in summer, take a look at the forecast so that you can be prepared. You can use the forecast to help a senior choose the right attire and to take along the right things.
For example, if the temperature is going to be in triple digits, dress lightly. If there aren’t going to be clouds, take a hat. If it’s going to rain, you’ll need an umbrella or a jacket.
If your area is experiencing severe heat or humidity, it might be best to stay home and wait for better weather.
2. Understand Medication Side Effects
Many seniors are taking several medications, and each of those medications comes with its own set of side effects. Understand what medications a senior is taking before spending time outside, and plan ahead for those specific side effects.
For example, some medications can make seniors more sensitive to the sun, which means you’ll want to take it slow, drink lots of water, apply sunscreen and limit time spent outdoors.
Medication side effects are no reason to stay home altogether. Just be sure you understand them entirely so that you can plan and respond in case any of the side effects emerge.
3. Emphasize Hydration
Seniors need to stay even more hydrated than other adults when spending time outdoors in summer. Start by hydrating before an outdoors adventure begins, and then take along plenty of water so that you can stay hydrated during your outing.
What should you be drinking? Keep it to water and sports drinks only. Drinking too much coffee, soda or alcohol can actually make a senior even more dehydrated, which can lead to serious health issues.
4. Keep Sunscreen Handy
Sunburn is always painful, no matter how old you are. But the effects of sunburn for seniors can last much longer and be much more intensive. So apply plenty of sunscreen before heading outdoors, and take along even more sunscreen for reapplication later on.
It’s always a good idea to set an alarm for reapplication of sunscreen. Set an alarm on your phone to go off about 2 hours after your time outdoors begins. And make sure you and others reapply, too. Stopping what you’re doing to make a senior reapply sunscreen alone can be humiliating for that elder adult.
5. Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
Get to know the early warning signs of heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, heat exhaustion and dehydration. For example, signs of heat stroke include headache, a lack of sweat, hot skin, cramps, nausea and shallow breathing. Signs of heat exhaustion include many of the same symptoms as heat stroke. And signs of dehydration include dizziness, rapid breathing, confusion and irritability.
Know these signs, and have an escape plan if these symptoms start to appear. You’ll want to have a quick path to get indoors and into a cool environment with lots of water when you need to.
Get Additional Support for the Senior in Your Life
Caring for a senior can be incredibly difficult. Family members want to help seniors live life to the fullest, but there is often a range of things complicating their ability to do so.
At First in Care, we provide home-health services to seniors in Bradenton and surrounding communities. No matter the season and no matter a senior’s needs, we can provide the support and assistance required to help him or her live life to the fullest.