While many people love the long, sunny days of summer, the extreme temperatures and changing weather conditions put senior citizens at risk. You should take the proper precautions to protect the elderly people in your life. This guide lists a few summer health hazards that you need to be aware of.
Many senior citizens enjoy outside activities, such as gardening and walking. Unfortunately, when temperatures start to rise, this makes it easier for elderly individuals to suffer from dehydration. Seniors who suffer from dementia are extremely vulnerable, as dementia cause the senior to forget to drink fluids.
Some seniors also take medications that act as diuretics; this makes it difficult for the body to hold onto water. Other seniors receive instructions to limit their fluids due to concerns from their doctors. All of these factors put seniors at risk.
Encourage your elderly loved ones to avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Instead, they should drink water, fruit juice, or vegetable juice. If your loved one has fluid restrictions, then consider making water-rich produce (such as watermelon, celery, cucumbers. tomatoes, and strawberries) readily available, as these foods will help your loved one stay hydrated.
Due to either lack of mobility or a poor understanding of the importance of regularly using sun protection, elderly individuals may choose to skip using sunscreen. This puts them at a higher risk of suffering from an uncomfortable sunburn or skin cancer. The more damage the skin incurs from UV radiation, the higher the chances of the cells turning cancerous.
Seniors should apply sunscreen every single day, even if they have no plans to spend a notable amount of time outside. If they have trouble with the application process, then a lotion applicator with a long handle can help them expand their reach and apply the sunscreen evenly.
3. Heat Disorders
As you age, the body has a harder time regulating its temperature. This makes it more likely that seniors will suffer from a heat disorder. A number of heat disorders affect seniors, including heat syncope, heat edema, and heat exhaustion.
Heat syncope occurs when hot temperatures cause dizziness. Typically, the dizziness goes away once the afflicted individual can sit in a cool space, consume fluids, and rest.
Warm temperatures can cause the ankles and legs to swell; this condition is known as heat edema. Have your elderly loved one sit down and elevate their legs if you notice puffiness.
Heat exhaustion is one of the most serious heat disorders, as it means that the body can no longer control its temperature. Symptoms include excessive thirst, dizziness, feelings of weakness, and nausea.
Since heat exhaustion can progress to a heat stroke, it is important to seek medical attention if your loved one's symptoms do not quickly improve with rest, fluids, and cooler temperatures.
See that your elderly loved ones have access to an air-conditioned space at all times. Even if your loved one remains inside, a home without air can quickly reach dangerous temperatures.
In many areas of the country, the humidity levels soar during the summer months. Scientists believe that there may be a correlation between high humidity levels and depression.
Research suggests that extreme humidity levels may alter the chemicals in the brain that manage mood levels; the result is a seasonal mood disorder that occurs in the summer instead of the winter.
Though individuals of any age are susceptible to seasonal mood changes, seniors are particularly at risk simply because their depression has a higher chance of remaining undetected. Some mistakenly believe that mood changes are an inevitable aspect of aging, but this is not the case.
If you notice seasonal changes in your elderly loved one's mood or behavior, then it is time to schedule an appointment with their doctor.
One thing that may improve your loved one’s mood is interacting with others. If you’re concerned about your loved one living alone, then contact us at Oakridge Gardens Rehabilitation & Memory Center to learn more about our assisted living facilities.