Summer is officially here, and the country can expect hot weather for the next several months. Heat can take an extra toll on seniors. According to the Center for Disease Control, people over 65 are prone to heat-related problems because:
- They are more likely to take medication that causes difficulties handling changes in temperature.
- They cannot adjust to temperatures as quickly.
Here are a few tips for staying cool all summer without sacrificing mobility and activities.
Wear light-colored clothing that is loose and easy to move in. Linen is a great choice since it is very breathable and lightweight.
- If seniors take medication that reduces sweating or causes hot flashes, try carrying a small, battery-powered fan to cool off.
- Carry water at all times in a small bottle and encourage your senior to drink regularly.
- Wear a hat when in direct sun to avoid sunstroke and sunburn. Sunburn can be particularly difficult for seniors.
- Cool showers can help seniors cool down if they get overheated.
- Avoid strenuous activity outdoors during peak daylight hours when the sun is highest and at its strongest. If your senior must be outside, wear long, thin clothing and a hat, and try to stay out of direct sun.
Senior care in summer means it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of sunstroke. There are five levels of heat-related illnesses: heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
According to the Center for Disease Control, heat rash appears as clusters of red blisters in areas like the neck, chest, groin and creases of the body. Heat rash should be kept dry and clean. Baby powder can help soothe the inflamed skin.
Sunburn is the result of spending too much time in direct sun. It can be painful, red skin and even blister if the sunburn is severe enough. To treat sunburn, stay out of direct sun while it heals, apply cool cloths (but not cold or ice) and moisturize regularly until the skin is healed. Regular use of sunscreen can prevent future sunburns if it is applied regularly.
Heat cramps present with heavy sweating and muscle pain. Heat cramps can be treated by ceasing physical activity and moving to a cool or shaded place. Your senior should drink water or a sports drink and try to stretch out the cramp. If your senior is on a low-sodium diet or has a history of heart problems, seek immediate medical attention.
Heat exhaustion occur when there is too much physical activity performed outside. Symptoms can include heavy sweating, tiredness, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, nausea, racing pulse and cold, clammy skin. Seniors with heat exhaustion should remove tight clothing, put cool cloths on their bodies, sip water and stay out of direct sunlight. Seek immediate medical attention if your senior is throwing up or have symptoms lasting more than one hour.
Heat stroke presents with a body temperature of 103, hot skin, speedy pulse, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness and dizziness. Heat stroke needs to be treated by professionals since it is a medical emergency. Move the senior to a cool place and apply cool, damp cloths to their body. Do not give them anything to drink since the sudden temperature change can cause further issues.
There’s no doubt that keeping your aging parent healthy and safe during the summer months is particularly challenging. With the help of friends, family members and senior care providers, your mom or dad can get through the season without issue.