What’s not to love about love the warmer, longer, leisurely days of the summer season? With family get-togethers and festivities such as graduations, weddings, holiday gatherings, and more, many seniors are more active through the summer season. And since it’s easy for older adults to rapidly become overheated, it’s crucial to know how to recognize heat-related health issues, and to know what to do to protect against them.
Leading Summer Health Concerns for Seniors
If any of these complications are suspected, it’s crucial to get medical help immediately.
Dehydration: For older adults, feelings of being thirsty are decreased, making it more challenging to confirm they stay hydrated. Even if the senior says she isn’t thirsty, it’s essential for her to drink at least 8 – 10 cups of liquid every day, and more when spending time outdoors. Plain water is ideal, but sports drinks that contain electrolytes are also helpful during warmer weather. Symptoms that could point to dehydration include headache, weakness, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and losing consciousness.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is an extremely serious condition that can be life threatening. Symptoms include higher body temperature (103 degrees or more), a rapid pulse, red, hot, dry skin, headache, dizziness, vomiting or nausea, and loss of consciousness. Call 911 immediately if heat stroke indicators are evident, and get the older person to a cooler environment, placing cool, damp cloths on the ankles, wrists, neck and armpits to help lower body temperature, encouraging the person to consume some water or a sports drink if at all possible.
Heat exhaustion: A combination of overheating and dehydration, heat exhaustion can result in stroke if not treated immediately. It’s evidenced by either no sweating or heavy sweating, lethargy, cold/clammy skin, headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, and a quickened or faint pulse. Help the older person move to a cooler location if heat exhaustion is suspected, and use the cooling strategies noted for heat stroke above until help arrives.
Helping Seniors Remain Safe
Prevention is the best solution for summer-related health issues. Try the following protective steps to avoid complications and ensure the older adult remains healthy and well this summer.
Try to avoid mid-day outside activities. It’s safer to enjoy being outside in the summer early in the morning or later in the day, when the sun isn’t as intense. If taking part in an outdoor function during the day, it’s best for the senior to stay in a shaded area.
Plan indoor excursions. There are plenty of fun activities older adults can enjoy in the comfort of an air-conditioned environment. Plan a shopping trip at the mall or a visit to a museum, take in a movie together, spend time at the local senior center or library.
Stay hydrated. Keep plenty of bottled water with you when venturing out with a senior, and steer clear of alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, which are dehydrating.
For more guidelines for helping seniors fully enjoy the summer months, turn to Live Free Home Health Care. As the highest quality New Hampton NH caregivers, we’re always available to share educational materials or to partner with you to ensure your senior loved one stays safe, healthy and happy, no matter the season. Contact us any time at 603-217-0149.