10 Summer Health Tips for the Elderly

July 17, 2014

As we head into the hotter months of the year,  we need to be aware of and monitor the particular health risks that are unique to our seniors.  

There are at least ten easy preventative measures that we can enlist.

  1. Dress appropriately. Wear loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics like cotton. Light colours are best as they reflect the sun unlike the darker colours that absorb the heat.
  2. Avoid extreme outdoor heat by staying indoors.  In high heat and humidity, the body must work very hard to maintain a normal temperature. In these dangerous situations it is best to stay indoors. If you need to get out of the house, don’t drive; call a taxi, a friend or a transportation service. Do NOT wait outside for the bus in extreme heat.
  3. Air conditioning. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, go somewhere that does. A movie theatre, the mall a friend or relative’s home or a community senior centre are all good options. Floor and ceiling fans will help especially in your bedroom. Temperatures inside the home should not exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit for prolonged periods of time.
  4. Stay Hydrated. The best form of hydration is drinking water. Seniors should consider carrying water bottles. Seniors should always check with their physician to ensure that an increase in fluids is medically safe. As persons age, their sense of thirst decreases and by the time an elderly person feels thirsty, he or she may already be dehydrated. Sometimes seniors need reminders from family members, friends and caregivers to help them stay well-hydrated.
  5. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.  Alcohol, soda, coffee and even tea can leave you dehydrated quickly. If at all possible, try to reduce the amount of these beverages, especially during hot weather. Plain or flavoured water is a good substitute.
  6. Rest. Extra naps with a cool cloth on your head or neck and proximity to a fan or air conditioner will help keep your senior's strength up. 
  7. Sunblock/Sunglasses and a Hat.  When outdoors, protect your skin from damage by wearing hats, sunglasses and a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen one-half hour before heading outdoors. Apply ample sunscreen to all exposed areas, including under the sleeves and collar of a shirt or blouse.
  8. Take a cool shower or bath. If you are absolutely unable to leave the house and do not have air conditioning, take a cool bath or shower to lower your body temperature on extremely hot days. This can be done several times a day. 
  9. Know the signs of heat stroke. If you experience a flushed face, high body temperature, headache, nausea, rapid pulse, dizziness and confusion call for help immediately.
  10. Stay connected to family and neighbours. Care givers should be in touch with their seniors at least twice a day during extreme heat. Know where they are, what they are doing and how they are feeling. As back--up, meet the neighbours and enlist their help if needed.

Summer is a wonderful time for fun family outings with the whole family, including the older members of your family. Be vigilant with their health and the heat and it will be a summer to remember.

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