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12 Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

 

By Gillian Kruse, Freelance Writer - July 2018

The summertime is a time of fun and relaxation for most people. But for seniors, the heat and sun can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren't taken. Here are some great tips from senior care consultants that aging adults, as well as their caregivers, can use to make sure they have a fun, safe summer.

1.  Stay Hydrated

Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. They can also 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. Dr. William Greenough, of Johns Hopkins Geriatric Center, says caregivers should make sure seniors are drinking sweat replacement products (that contain salt and potassium) to replace water they lose during the summer, especially in hot and humid cities like Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Williamsburg.

2. Talk to 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 (about 78 degrees Fahrenheit), and the last thing anyone wants is for a preventable medical condition to become aggravated due to high temperatures.

3. Keep Your Cool

Even small increases in temperature can shorten the life expectancy for seniors who are coping with chronic medical conditions, say senior care services experts. 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. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to inquire if there are any programs to assist seniors with fewer resources to get air conditioners. "Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature," says Dr. Lubna Javed, formerly of HealthCare Partners Medical Group in Las Vegas. "Some chronic medical conditions and prescription medications can impair the body’s ability to react efficiently to rising temperature."

4. Stay in Touch

High temperatures can be life-threatening, so communication plays an important role in ensuring the safety of aging adults. Seniors should let friends and family know if they'll be spending an extended period of time outdoors, even if they're only gardening. "Caregivers should check on the health and welfare of their loved ones at least twice a day," Javed says.

5. Meet Your Neighbors

Get in touch with those who live in your neighborhood and learn a bit about them and their schedules. If you're a senior, see if a younger neighbor — perhaps even one of their kids — can come by and check on you occasionally to make sure everything is all right. The extra company and friendship that can result is a bonus!

6. Know Who to Call

Prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and place them in an easy-to-access area. This way, the right people can be called to help quickly preventing any further issues or preventing medical problems from getting worse.
>> Fill out this Senior Care Emergency Checklist.

7. Wear the Right Stuff

Everyone, including seniors, should dress for the weather, say senior care consultants.  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.

8. Protect Your Eyes

Vision loss can be common among seniors, 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.

9. Know the Risks 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, say senior care services experts. Make sure to know the warning signs and get medical attention immediately if you or anyone you know is experiencing these symptoms:

- Body temperature greater than 104 degrees
- A change in behavior, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy
- Dry, flushed skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Headache
- Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse
- Not sweating, even if it's hot out
- Fainting

"Elderly individuals have a harder time knowing when they are dehydrated and their bodies have more difficulty regulating their temperatures," says Dr. Ronan Factora, of the Cleveland Clinic says. "As a result, they are more prone to heat stroke." If you (or an elderly loved one) start to feel any of these symptoms, ask for medical help and get out of the heat, lie down and place ice packs on your body.

10. Put on Sunscreen and Wear Hats

Everyone, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. Seniors 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.

11. Apply Bug Spray

Seniors are particularly prone to West Nile Virus and encephalitis, Factora says. If you live in areas like Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk, or Williamsburg where there are a lot of mosquitoes and where West Nile Virus is present, and if you spend a lot of time outdoors (particularly at night), use mosquito repellent to help reduce the risk of getting bit by a mosquito carrying this virus, say senior care services experts.


12. Exercise Smart

If you enjoy outdoor activities, such as walking or gardening, make sure to wear the proper clothing and protective gear. It's also important to keep track of time. Don't stay out for long periods and make sure to drink even more water than usual when exercising. Also, consider getting outdoor exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun is not at its peak.
If you follow these tips, there's no reason you can't have an enjoyable and fun-filled summer — no matter how old you are.

If you are searching for senior care services, senior care consultants or a geriatric care manager, we can help. Since 2006 we've served many families in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, and Hampton Roads.

For a confidential consultation, please contact us at (757) 271-4270 or cdboyd@careconnecthr.com.



About Care Connect of Hampton Roads
Christina Drumm-Boyd is a VA Accredited claims agent. She and the staff at Care Connect of Hampton Roads are experts at providing care for seniors, care for elderly, nursing home care, long term care, home care, senior care, eldercare, care for mom, care for dad, assisted living, alzheimers, dementia, adult day care, help with senior care, nursing care, elderly care, elder care planning, geriatric care manager, geriatric case manager, caregiver, in home care, long term care, and caregiver support for the elderly in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Newport News, Hampton, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Hampton Roads, North Carolina, Currituck, and the Outer banks. Christina Drumm-Boyd is a certified senior advisor who can help with medicaid rules, VA benefits, VA pension, medicaid, medicare, veterans benefits, aid and attendance pension, veterans aid and assistance, veterans aid and attendance, power of attorney, guardianship, advanced medical directive, will, conservatorship, paying for nursing home care, paying for long term care, legal advice for seniors, elder law, asset protection, estate planning, long term care insurance, health insurance, life insurance, and annuities.

Our Hampton Roads Locations:


VIRGINIA BEACH:
200 S. Kellam Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462



NEWPORT NEWS:
12350 Jefferson Ave., Suite 140, Newport News, VA 23602



WILLIAMSBURG:
217 McClaws Circle, Suite 1, Williamsburg, VA 23185



Reach any of our offices at: Ph: (757) 271-4270 Toll Free: 1 (855) 872-2529 Email: cdboyd@careconnecthr.com

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