Marianne Bailey Apr 30, 2023
Marianne Bailey Feb 16, 2023
As the temperatures rise and the days lengthen, summer presents seniors with a perfect opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether it’s strolling in a park, gardening, swimming, or bird watching, outdoor activities provide not only enjoyment but also numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased strength and flexibility, and enhanced mental well-being. However, the season also brings unique challenges that can put seniors’ health at risk. Here are ten essential tips to ensure you or your loved one can practice summer safety.
1. Dress for the Weather
When it comes to summer attire, it’s important to strike a balance between protection and comfort. Choose lightweight, loose-fitting clothes that are light in color. Such clothes are breathable and reflect heat, helping you stay cool under the sun. But summer clothing isn’t just about beating the heat; it’s also about skin protection. Opt for long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever possible to shield your skin from harmful UV rays and pesky insect bites. And remember, a wide-brimmed hat isn’t just a stylish accessory—it can provide much-needed shade for your face and neck.
2. Apply Sunscreen Regularly
Many of us associate sunburn with long days at the beach, but you can get a sunburn whenever you’re outside without adequate protection. Besides being uncomfortable, sunburn can significantly increase your risk of skin cancer. To avoid this, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin, and don’t forget to reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Dehydration is a significant concern for seniors, especially during summer. As we age, our ability to recognize thirst decreases, which can lead to inadequate water intake. To prevent dehydration, aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. If you’re engaged in physical activities or if the weather is particularly hot, increase your water intake. Remember, by the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated.
4. Wear Proper Footwear
Preventing falls, a common source of injuries among seniors, starts from the ground up—with the right pair of shoes. Summer activities may take you across varied terrains—from sandy beaches to forest hiking trails—and having non-slip, supportive, and comfortable footwear is crucial. Proper footwear can enhance stability, reduce the risk of falls, and keep your outdoor adventures pleasant and pain-free.
5. Beware of Bugs
Summer is the peak season for many insects, some of which carry diseases. Mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs can be more than just an annoyance; they can pose a real threat to your health. Protect yourself by using an EPA-registered insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially in wooded areas or places where mosquitoes are prevalent.
6. Be Careful with Medications
Did you know that some medications can increase your sensitivity to the sun or interfere with your body’s ability to regulate heat? It’s true, and it’s another reason why you should always consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist about the possible side effects of your medications, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors.
7. Don’t Forget Your Sunglasses
Your skin isn’t the only thing that needs protection from the sun—your eyes do, too. Prolonged exposure to the sun without adequate eye protection can lead to cataracts and other eye conditions. When buying sunglasses, look for a pair that blocks out 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation.
8. Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
As seniors, we need to be extra cautious about heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially during the sweltering summer months. Heat exhaustion symptoms may include cool, moist skin with goosebumps despite the heat, heavy sweating, faintness, dizziness, fatigue, weak and rapid pulse, low blood pressure upon standing, muscle cramps, nausea, and headaches. Heat stroke presents with more severe symptoms like a high body temperature, altered mental state or behavior, change in sweating patterns, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, and headache. If you suspect you or someone else is suffering from a heat-related illness, seek medical help immediately.
9. Practice Safe Swimming
Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise for seniors and a great way to cool down during summer. However, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Never swim alone; always have someone else around in case a medical emergency arises. Ensure that the swimming area is safe and secure – avoid areas with high waves, strong currents, or excessive marine life.
10. Stay in Touch
In this age of technology, staying connected is easier than ever. Whenever you’re venturing outdoors, carry a cell phone for emergencies. If you’re going into unfamiliar areas or places with limited reception, consider a GPS device. And of course, old-fashioned communication works, too. Always inform a loved one or caretaker about your plans, including where you’ll be and when you expect to return.
Summer is a wonderful time for seniors to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature. By following these ten outdoor safety tips, you can ensure that your summer adventures are not just fun and fulfilling, but safe as well. After all, safety isn’t just about preventing accidents; it’s about giving you the confidence to explore and enjoy life’s experiences.
So go ahead—put on your hat, lace up your shoes, and step into the sunshine. And remember, summer safety is no accident—it’s a choice you make each time you step outside.