A deadly heat wave is melting most of the country but as it turns out, many senior citizens, most vulnerable to the heat, may be ignoring the warnings. A study out of Kent State University shows 90 percent of respondents over the age of 65 were aware of heat warnings, but most seniors thought the messages were targeted toward “older Americans,” a group to which they did not think they belonged.*
Heat safety has changed… from new FDA guidelines on sunscreen to health recommendations for water intake seniors need to stay hydrated. It often takes an extra set of eyes and ears to make sure seniors are doing everything they can to stay protected.”
Proper Precautions to Beat the Heat :
Stay well hydrated – Caregivers remind seniors to drink water throughout the course of the day, even if they’re not particularly thirsty. As adults continue to age, the amount of water retained by the body decreases substantially.
Maintaining a cool environment – Caregivers close blinds and curtains keeping the house cool, even in triple digit temperatures. Caregivers also have battery operated/hand-held fans readily available to keep their seniors comfortable. Most seniors are budget-conscious, so it’s important for caregivers to be sure the AC is set to a proper, cool level and it’s working. Caregivers can also be responsible to check filters once a month.
Stay In air conditioning in the afternoon – The hottest part of the day is from 3-5 p.m. Caregivers provide inside activities like playing cards, going to movies or the mall to keep seniors active inside to avoid spending time outside during the most dangerous hours of the day.
Eat plenty, but eat light – Caregivers prepare light food because heavy foods, like meat and cheese, tend to make the body work harder to digest, using more water and generating more body heat .
Follow new sunscreen guidelines – Caregivers are well versed on the FDA’s newly released guidelines about sun protection. Seniors are more prone to sunburn because their bodies have less water. Caregivers educate seniors about these new regulations such as there’s no such thing as “sweat proof” or “water proof” sunscreen. Or that you must re-apply sunscreen every two hours for it to work effectively (new guidelines listed at the bottom of the release).
Copies of health care information – In the event of an emergency, caregivers can have copies of senior’s prescriptions, health insurance card, and phone numbers of health care providers on-hand.
Sources: American Cancer Society, the Skin Cancer Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Journal of Public Health.
What We’ve Learned From the FDA’s New Sunscreen Guidelines:
There is no such thing as “sweat-proof” and “waterproof” sunscreens. These words are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels.
Sunscreens can claim to be “water resistant” but the company has to put a label on their product stating the sunscreen only offers 40 or 80 minutes of protection while swimming or sweating.
You must re-apply sunscreen every two hours for continued sun protection.
Use sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection, also known as “broad spectrum” protection.
Only broad spectrum sunscreens with 15 SPF or higher provide any type of sun protection (15 – 30 SPF is recommended).