Sun exposure provides a valuable dose of vitamin D, but too much time in the sun can pose risks to a variety of health risks including skin cancer, heat stroke, and vision loss. In addition, the high summer temperatures can be especially dangerous for seniors. To help protect yourself and your loved ones, we have put together 6 summer safety tips for seniors to put into practice as they age.
1. Check medications
Before going out in the summer sun, check with your doctor or pharmacy to understand any side effects your medications may have related to sun exposure. Many don’t realize that medications can contain ingredients that make you more sensitive to sunlight, causing severe sunburns, blistering, or toxic or allergic reactions. These include antibiotics, some over-the-counter medications and some diabetes and blood pressure meds. The heat can also reduce the effectiveness of some medications, making it important to store in a cool place. If you are unsure or have any concerns, it is best to speak with your physician directly to ensure your health is protected during the warm summer months.
2. Stay hydrated
Hydration is always important, but when summer hits, staying hydrated is more difficult and many people don’t realize the health risks dehydration can cause. Seniors are especially susceptible to dehydration as they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. Some seniors can become less aware of their thirst and forget to drink water or other hydrating liquids throughout the day.
3. Protect your skin and eyes
While the summer sun can cause health issues, it’s especially dangerous to your eyes and your skin. Vision loss is already a risk to the elderly and excessive exposure to the sun can irritate the eyes and cause further damage. Wearing sunglasses can protect your vision by shielding your eyes from harmful UV rays. For your skin, it is important to wear sunscreen, a hat, and thin long sleeve clothing to shield from harmful UV rays and protect against skin cancer.
4. Exercise with caution
If your daily exercise usually involves outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, or swimming, you should consider making adjustments to your workout routine during the summer to avoid potential health risks from the heat. Consider taking that morning walk or swim earlier before the sun is overhead and the temperatures are high. Another option is waiting until evening after sunset or exploring new indoor activities such as a stationary bike. If you are outdoors and moving, remember to bring your water. If you are unsure if an activity is safe for you to take on as you age, consult your physician or nurse practitioner.
5. Know signs of heat related illnesses
Heat related illnesses such as dehydration, heatstroke, hyperthermia, heat exhaustion, etc. can be fatal if not caught and treated quickly. To lower your risk, know the signs to look for such as dry skin, headache, lethargy, disorientation, a flushed face, nausea, rapid pulse, dizziness, confusion and high temperature. If you feel any of these symptoms while outside during the summer, call 911.
6. Have emergency contacts
If you are planning to spend an extended period of time outdoors in extreme weather (hot or cold), it is wise to let friends or family know. Even if you’re just gardening or going for a neighborhood walk, keep your mobile phone nearby. Most importantly, prepare a list of emergency phone numbers and have them handy in a place that’s easy-to-access. While summer brings longer and often more relaxing days, taking steps to keep yourself and loved ones safe and healthy from the heat and sun is vital. Yes, it’s the season for vacations, time with family and friends, and enjoying activities outdoors, but for aging individuals it is important to keep summer safety tips for seniors top-of-mind. Remaining healthy and injury free is the best way to enjoy the summer months.
Adobe Health & Wellness is dedicated to helping individuals live a healthier, more active quality of life as they age. To learn more about our case management services and innovative technology for health care visit adobepophealth.com