The weather is finally warming up, and you’re probably ready to get outside and beat off the winter blues! Unfortunately, warm weather can create risks for people of all ages, and older adults are no exception. In fact, the CDC reminds us that individuals 65 or older may be more prone to heat-related health concerns while soaking up that sunshine.
So, before you step out to enjoy the pleasant temperatures, be sure you know how to keep yourself safe. Here are five safety tips for summer to keep you living your best life this season:
Staying hydrated is arguably the best (and most refreshing) way for you to keep cool this summer. Drinking enough water is imperative to preventing heat-related illness. Experts recommend older adults drink between 6 to 8 cups of water each day. Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies aren’t always as good at letting us know when we are thirsty. Keep a water bottle or insulated cup with you at all times. Opt for one that has notches or reminders of when to drink. If you show signs of dehydration (i.e., fatigue, dry mouth, headaches, irritability, etc.), find yourself an electrolyte-rich beverage like Gatorade to enjoy. Additionally, try to cut back on alcoholic and caffeinated drinks as they can further dehydrate you.
Use Sun Protection
Our skin naturally begins to change as we age, and maintaining a healthy skin routine is more important than ever. To protect your skin from the sun, apply sunscreen daily. Choose an SPF 15 or higher option that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. If you’re in direct sunlight, reapply sunscreen often. Check the expiration date on last year’s sunscreen and discard it if needed: the ingredients deteriorate over time and may not work effectively. Opt to sit in shaded areas outdoors like a covered patio or beneath a tree for extra protection.
Dress for the Heat
While it is essential to keep your skin protected from the sun, be sure you’re dressing in proper clothing to keep you cool. Choose light-colored, loose-fitting clothes when you plan to be outside. Lighter colors will reflect the sun, while loose fabrics will help your body breathe. Opt for natural fabrics like cotton over warmer, synthetic fibers. Some clothing lines have sun protection built-in.
When in doubt, stay inside! Unfortunately, some days (or parts of the day) are too hot to be outside. The sun is the strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you want to get some fresh air, venture out in the early morning or later in the evening for less risk. You might even enjoy a popsicle or glass of lemonade to help keep you cool! Fortunately, Vineyard Senior Living is well-equipped with air conditioning and many activities to keep you safe and entertained indoors.
Know the Signs of a Problem
In some cases, our bodies don’t respond well to the heat as we age. Maybe once you could spend hours in the sun without issue, but now you feel overheated or light-headed after just a brief period. Be sure you know and understand the types and symptoms of hyperthermia or overheating. Here are four heat-related illnesses that can occur with over-exposure:
- Dehydration: fatigue, dizziness, headache, or muscle spasms
- Heat exhaustion: excessive sweating, weakness, cold or clammy skin, nausea, or vomiting
- Heatstroke: hot, dry skin, increased heart rate, confusion, or seizures
- Heat Syncope: fainting due to intense temperatures
If you or your loved one shows any of the above symptoms, quickly move them to a safe and cool spot. Offer water, then call for medical attention if their symptoms do not quickly resolve.
Stay Safe This Summer
Warm summer weather is the perfect follow-up to a cool spring. Do what you can to prevent heat-related illnesses ahead of time before venturing out to enjoy the sun! Listen to your body and know when you need to move indoors. A senior living community is a beautiful way to promote healthy aging by getting outside and enjoying the weather while also having a system to give you the support you need, whenever you need it!