Don’t we all love the warmer, longer, relaxing days of the summer season? With family get-togethers and celebratory occasions like graduations, weddings, summer holiday functions, and more, many older adults are more active during the summer season. And considering that it’s easy for older individuals to swiftly become overheated, it’s critical to know how to detect heat-related health concerns, and to know what to do to avoid them.
Top Summer Health Concerns for Older Individuals
If any of these health conditions are suspected, it’s vital to get medical help immediately.
Dehydration: For aging adults, feelings of thirst are diminished, making it more challenging to assure they stay hydrated. Even if a senior says she’s not thirsty, it’s necessary for her to take in at least eight to ten cups of fluid per day, and more when spending time out of doors. Plain water is best, but sports drinks that contain electrolytes are also effective during warmer weather. Red flags that could signify dehydration include headache, weakness, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and losing consciousness.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is an extremely critical condition that can be life-threatening. Warning signs include increased body temperature (103 degrees or more), a rapid pulse, red, hot, dry skin, headache, dizziness, vomiting or nausea, and loss of consciousness. Call 911 immediately if heat stroke indicators are apparent, and get the older person to a cool environment, laying cool, damp cloths on the ankles, wrists, neck and armpits to help lower body temperature, encouraging the person to consume some water or a sports drink if at all possible.
Heat exhaustion: A combination of overheating and dehydration, heat exhaustion can lead to stroke if not addressed immediately. It’s evidenced by no sweating or heavy sweating, lethargy, cold/clammy skin, headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, and a quickened or faint pulse. Help the senior move to a cool location if heat exhaustion is suspected, and use the cooling techniques mentioned for heat stroke above until help arrives.
Helping Seniors Remain Safe
Prevention is the best remedy for summer-related health problems. Try the following preventative measures to protect against complications and ensure that the individual continues to be healthy and well this summer.
Try to avoid mid-day outdoor activities. It’s safer to enjoy summertime outdoors in the early morning or later in the day, when the sun isn’t as strong. If attending an outdoor function during the day, it’s best for the older adult to stay in a shaded area.
Plan indoor excursions. There are loads of pleasant activities seniors can enjoy in the comfort of an air-conditioned environment. Plan a shopping trip at the mall or a visit to a museum, take in a movie together, spend time at the local senior center or library.
Stay hydrated. Keep an adequate amount of bottled water available when venturing out with a senior, and steer clear of alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, which are dehydrating.
For more suggestions for helping seniors thoroughly enjoy the summer months, get in touch with Grace Home Care. Providing the highest quality Topeka respite care, we’re always available to share resources or to partner with you to ensure your senior loved one stays safe, healthy and happy, no matter the season. Contact us any time at 785.286.CARE.