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Summer safety for seniors

Summer is almost here, and the greater Houston area is preparing for its notoriously sweltering conditions.  Summer is a time for fun and activity, but certain precautions need to be taken to ensure that the heat does not interfere.  This is especially important for populations that are at slightly higher risk for problems, like our seniors.  The following tips can help to keep our seniors healthy so that they can enjoy all that summertime has to offer.

  1. Stay hydrated.  Increased temperatures lead to increased chances of dehydration.  This is especially true for seniors, who are more susceptible. As one ages, one’s body starts to lose the ability to conserve water.  Seniors may also be less aware of thirst and be more sensitive to changes in temperature than younger people.  For these reasons, it is important that seniors get plenty of water, as well as supplements to replace the salt and potassium that is lost through sweating.
  2. Make sure that medications are stored in places that are kept room temperature or below. Many medications become less effective when heated above about 78 degrees, so try to avoid carrying those when you are going to be in the heat for an extended period of time.
  3. Try to stay cool. This is especially true for seniors who suffer from chronic medical conditions.  As we age, the body becomes less able to adjust to changes in temperature, and certain chronic conditions and prescription medications can exacerbate this problem even further.
  4. Use sunscreen, wear hats and sunglasses, and use bug repellent when out in the sun.  Seniors are more susceptible to the unhealthy effects of sun exposure, so they require more protection, though everyone needs to wear sunscreen when outdoors.  Seniors are also more susceptible to insect-borne pathogens like West Nile than younger people, so bug spray is a must.
  5. Observe for warning signs of hyperthermia and heat stroke. As we mentioned before, seniors are at greater risk for dehydration and are physically less able to adjust to temperature changes.  So look for these signs that hyperthermia may be setting in:
  • A body temperature greater than 104 degrees
  • Not sweating, even when it’s hot
  • Dry, flushed skin
  • Headache
  • Heavy breathing or rapid pulse
  • Changes in behavior like agitation or confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

These tips should help keep your senior’s summer safe, enjoyable and fun.  For more information or to ask about our availability, contact Unlimited Care Cottages today!