Summertime means more time spent outdoors soaking up the sun, and unfortunately battling the sun’s rays as well. Fresh air is healthy for seniors, but over exposure to the sun and heat is not. Make sure you are familiar with the following summer safety precautions related to senior health.

Dehydration

Dehydration is a common health risk in the summer. Not only should seniors increase their water intake during the summer, it is also vital to decrease their consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks.  Doctors recommend seniors drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, even if they do not feel thirsty. This is especially important because seniors do not always realize they are thirsty.

Food

Food can also play a part in maintaining a healthy body temperature. Avoid foods that are high in protein, which increase metabolic heat. Sandwiches, salads, fresh fruit, and vegetables are good choices. It is also important to eat many, light meals as opposed to a few large meals.

Sun Exposure

Seniors are highly encouraged to stay indoors during the hottest times of the day – usually between 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm. If outside, seniors should regularly apply sunscreen and wear protective, light-colored clothing. It is also important to take steady breaks from outdoor activities. If seniors must be outdoors, choose the coolest part of the day—usually between 4:00 pm and 7:00 am.

If air conditioning is not available in the senior’s home, have them spend time at an air-conditioned shopping center, senior center, library, movie theater, restaurant or place of worship.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when a person exercises or works in a hot environment and sweating cannot dissipate the heat generated within the body. Often dehydration occurs because the person hasn’t replaced the water lost by sweating.

It is important to know the signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Profuse sweating,
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps,
  • Headache,
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Medications

Discuss with your doctor how medications and/or chronic conditions may affect your body’s ability to manage heat.

Finally, it is also extremely important to check in with seniors on hot days to make sure they are making healthy choices in the heat.