Summer is finally on its way to Chicago – and we couldn’t be more excited!
It’s crucial to keep in mind that hot weather can pose a unique health and safety risk to seniors. Every year, many older adults are hospitalized due to health problems caused by high heat and humidity.
As the season warms up, it’s helpful for family caregivers to prepare their senior and themselves for the skyrocketing temperatures. With a few simple steps, you can help your elderly loved one protect their health, while still enjoying summertime to the fullest.
Want to take care of your loved ones, and empower them to make the most of summer weather? Here are eight important summer safety tips to keep in mind:
1.) Stay hydrated
Older adults are particularly susceptible to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, due to a number of different factors. Hot, dry summer days can often make matters worse. In many cases, caregivers are going to want to keep a close eye on their senior loved ones, to help make sure they’re drinking water regularly throughout the day, and increasing their fluid intake on particularly hot days or during periods of increased activity. Make it easy for your older loved one to stay hydrated by always packing water bottles when you go out. You can also stock the fridge with high water content foods, including cucumbers, apples, berries, tomatoes, and soup.
2.) Use sunscreen, hats, and other sun protection
On bright, sunny days, it can be hard to resist the chance to get outside and soak up some vitamin D. Before heading outdoors, always take care to make sure your senior loved one is protected from sun exposure. Carry broad-spectrum, high-SPF sunscreen with you at all times, and help your elderly loved one apply it before going out. Also, make sure that they refresh their sunscreen as the day goes on. You can also help your senior loved one protect themselves by encouraging them to wear a shady sun hat, along with breathable, warm-weather apparel.
3.) Have a list of contacts ready to go
In a pinch, will your elderly loved one be able to get in touch with the right people? To help minimize the dangers of a scalding summer day, make sure your loved one is well-connected with their local caregiving network. As a family caregiver, you may want to get in touch with friends, family, or neighbors who live near your senior, so that they can check in with the elderly adult when you can’t. On particularly hot days, it may help to have someone on hand who can check in with your senior loved one frequently, to help make sure they’re staying cool and feeling all right. At the same time, make sure that you have a list of emergency contacts ready to go, and keep it somewhere that is easily accessible to your senior loved one. This way, they have the names and numbers of neighbors, doctors, emergency services, professional caregivers, and other helpful groups on hand when they need them most.
4.) Shield your eyes
Many older adults experience major and minor vision loss as they age. During the summer months, bright, direct sunlight and UV rays can take a further toll on seniors’ eyes, causing problems ranging from discomfort and dryness to lasting vision damage. Make sure your senior has a pair of sturdy, protective sunglasses to shield their eyes and help preserve their vision.
5.) Bring bug spray and repellents
Flying bugs and mosquitoes can be a real nuisance during the summer months. Beyond being an outdoor annoyance, mosquitoes can carry numerous diseases that often prove dangerous to older adults, including encephalitis and West Nile Virus. To help your senior steer clear of irritating, infectious bug bites, make sure to help them apply plenty of bug repellent before they go outside, and bring an additional supply to help them touch up as the day goes on. You may also want to look into bug repelling outdoor features, like candles, traps, or essential oil diffusers, which can help safeguard your loved one’s yard from disease-carrying pests.
6.) Take precautions with medications
As the hot weather settles in, take some time to talk with your senior loved one about medication safety. You may want to bring in a doctor, such as your senior’s primary care physician, for this conversation. Some medications can cause sun sensitivity as a side effect; others may have other effects that will be exacerbated by the hot weather, like dehydration or muscle cramps. In other cases, increased temperatures and humidity might cause some medications to spoil or lose effectiveness. Be sure to get a handle on your senior loved one’s medications before there’s any chance for an unwanted incident to occur.
7.) Take breaks and know when to avoid the outdoors
On a fun summer day, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. However, don’t forget that older adults are going to need plenty of chances to rest and relax. If you’re going outdoors for long stretches of time, remember to build in plenty of time for your senior loved one to take a break. Help your senior loved one to keep track of the time, to make sure they’re not overdoing it on hot, humid days. You may also want to encourage your loved one to go outside early in the morning or later in the evening, when the conditions are generally a little cooler. As a caregiver, it may also be up to you to keep an eye on the forecast, and encourage your loved one to stay inside on extremely hot, dangerous days.
8.) Bring on a helping hand
Helping your senior loved one enjoy the summer weather, while also making sure they feel safe and healthy? That can be a lot to tackle alone – particularly when you’re already busy with so many of the other day-to-day aspects of family caregiving. During the summer and all year round, a professional companion or caregiver can be an excellent resource for busy families. Available on a flexible schedule that works for your needs as a family caregiver, a senior companion can assist your elderly loved one in many different ways, from providing transportation services, to assisting with activities of daily living, to helping with housekeeping and meal prep, to simply adding an extra set of eyes and hands to help out.
Companions for Seniors Is Here to Help
Want to talk in more depth about what the steamy summer months may mean for your elderly loved ones? Are you looking for professional help in caring for your aging family members as the summer heat rolls in?
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Companions for Seniors to discuss the best plan of action for you and your family!
At Companions for Seniors, we help provide the elderly with a higher quality of life, while also offering respite and peace of mind for a family caregiver who might need some support. Our trained and bonded companions help stimulate our clients physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, empowering them to live an active and enriched lifestyle without having to leave the comfort and safety of home.
Ready to get started? Want to keep the conversation going? Give us a call at 866-910-9020, or reach out through our handy online portal today!