As we age, we become more susceptible to smaller increases in heat, the rays of the sun and the various illnesses spread by bug’s bites.
This makes summer a particularly difficult time for seniors – especially those who wish to stay active and social.
Of course, you could just sit inside your home in the A/C all day – but you don’t want to do that. Where’s the fun?
Here are some summer safety tips for the active senior:
There’s no better way to stay safe in the summer heat than to remember to stay hydrated.
Water is the best hydration, and you should shoot for at least 8 ounces for every hour that you’re in the sun.
Sipping on Gatorade or another electrolyte-rich drink can help in extreme cases, but your best bet is always good old fashioned H20.
If you get bored with water, fruit juices are another good way to hydrate. Another great hydrating tip is to eat foods that are mostly water, like watermelon, cucumbers, and radishes.
You should avoid over consumption of beverages like coffee and beer, as caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate you.
Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen
Illnesses spread by bugs like mosquitoes and ticks do more damage in the elderly. This includes diseases like West Nile and Lyme. Make sure you pack a bug spray with DEET for any outdoor event.
Protecting your skin from the sun is also of vital importance. Sunburns are a painful, but a temporary annoyance. What can spring from them – cancers like melanoma – are much worse. Any sunscreen you apply should be waterproof, broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays), and have an SPF value of at least 30.
If you can, you should cover as much of your bare skin as possible on sunny days. You can do this and still stay cool if you wear thin, loose-fitting clothing.
You should layer when you go outside, so that you can remove articles of clothing as you get warmer.
Don’t forget a hat – seniors tend to get burned on top of their heads and on their face more often than others.
And remember to protect your eyes!
The elderly are at a greater risk of vision loss, and long-term exposure to the sun can do just as much damage to your eyes as it can your skin. Wear sunglasses.
Stay indoors during times of extreme heat
All of the preparation in the world won’t help you if it’s scorching outside. If the temperature is simply too hot, it’s best to stay out of the sun. You should consider asking or hiring others to do outdoor tasks for you when it’s really hot. For example, many sharing economy sites make it easy to hire help with mowing the lawn and/or walking your dog.
Don’t isolate yourself at home, however. You can find cool temperatures at a friend’s house, a movie theater, a bookstore, the mall, or at a church event.
It’s a fact that as a senior, you are more susceptible to summer dangers than those of other age groups.
It’s also a fact that you don’t want to let this affect your life in a negative way. Take proper precautions to protect your skin and eyes, stay hydrated (and avoid drinks that dehydrate), and dress appropriately, and you can enjoy hours of fun in the sun…
Unless it’s simply too hot for anyone – in that case, just stay indoors and let someone else handle your outdoor responsibilities.
Steve Johnson is a health nut and wants to use his writing to make the world a healthier place. As co-creator of PublicHealthLibrary, he enjoys helping people find the health and medical information they need most.
“Thank you Steve for sharing these summer survival tips with us…”
Until next time…