We all love the warmer, longer, relaxing days of summer. With family get-togethers and celebratory occasions such as graduations, weddings, summer holiday gatherings, and more, many seniors are more active during the course of the summer season. And because it’s easy for older adults to suddenly become overheated, it’s important to know how to recognize heat-related health issues, and to know what to do to avoid them.
Leading Summer Health Concerns for Older Adults
If any of these difficulties are suspected, it’s imperative to get medical help immediately.
Dehydration: For seniors, feelings of thirst are diminished, making it more challenging to confirm they remain hydrated. Even if the senior says he isn’t thirsty, it’s important for him to consume at least eight to ten cups of liquid per day, and more when spending time outside. Plain water is best, but sports drinks that contain electrolytes are also beneficial during warmer weather. Symptoms that could suggest dehydration include headache, weakness, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and losing consciousness.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is an extremely critical condition that can be life-threatening. Signs include increased 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 apparent, and get the older person to a cool environment, laying 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 possible.
Heat exhaustion: A combination of dehydration and overheating, 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 cool location if heat exhaustion is suspected, and use the cooling techniques mentioned for heat stroke above until medical assistance arrives.
Helping Seniors Stay Safe
Prevention is the best treatment for summer-related health concerns. Try the following protective steps to avoid complications and make sure that the older person remains healthy and well this summer.
Avoid mid-day outside activities. It’s less hazardous to enjoy being outside in the summer in the early morning or later in the day, when the sun isn’t as powerful. If taking part in an outdoor event during the middle of the day, it’s best for the older adult to remain in the shade.
Plan indoor outings. There are loads of pleasant activities seniors 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 adequate bottled water with you when venturing out with a senior, and stay away from alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, which are dehydrating.
For more tips for helping seniors thoroughly enjoy the summer months, turn to Enhanced Home Care. Providing the highest quality home care Prairie Village seniors deserve, we’re always available to share helpful resources 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 913-327-0000.