Summer can be a wonderful time of outdoor activities, relaxation and spending time with family and friends. Many seniors enjoy the summer months and their warmer temperatures and sunshine. But for some seniors and elderly folks, summer brings safety concerns that family members and caregivers should monitor.
While summer doesn’t have winter’s cold snaps or icy weather to contend with, it does increase risk for heat-related conditions. Plus, with many families choosing the summer time for vacations, seniors can experience complications with travel and other summertime fun.
Safety Tips for Seniors this Summer
Keeping your elderly loved one safe all summer long usually just requires a little extra care. Here are our best summer safety tips for seniors and the elderly.
Hydration for Seniors and the Elderly in Summer
One of the biggest concerns for the elderly in the summer is dehydration. Many seniors already struggle with staying hydrated, whether due to changes in their diet, not “feeling” thirsty or side effects from medications. Once the temperature rises and an elderly person starts to sweat more, they could become dangerously dehydrated even faster than in the winter time.
It’s important that your loved one gets enough fluids throughout the day, especially if they are outside often or moving more frequently. If your elderly loved one has trouble remembering to get enough water, here are a few tips that can help:
- Increase Overall Fluid Intake
Eating lots of fresh summer vegetables, especially those with high water content, can be helpful in increasing your elderly loved one’s overall fluid intake. You can also incentivize water intake by adding fresh fruit to water. Summer drinks like iced tea and lemonade can also help (though mind the sugar content!). Summer soups and gazpachos are packed with flavor and low-sodium soups can support hydration. Even low calorie ice pops can add to fluid intake.
Be careful with alcoholic summer drinks, which can pair well with laid-back vacations or visits with friends, but contribute to dehydration. Coffee and other high-caffeine drinks are diuretics and can also cause dehydration. Help your loved one at least go “one-for-one” (follow one alcoholic or high-caffeine drink with one glass of water) if they choose to partake.
- Make Hydration a Habit
It can be easy to overlook hydration on busy summer days, especially if you are on vacation or away from home. As early in the season as possible (and beyond the summer months!) make hydration a habit. Try having your loved one drink at least one full glass of water with every meal. Make a habit of keeping a large water bottle nearby at all times, and make a goal of drinking a full one each day. You could even set reminders in your loved one’s phone so that each time they hear it go off, they remember to take a sip of water.
- Talk to Your Loved One’s Doctor
If you’re still concerned about your elderly loved one’s hydration, or suspect their medications are making it difficult to stay hydrated, talk to their doctor. Their doctor may be able to switch their medications or suggest other strategies for staying hydrated.
Summer Heat and the Elderly
Seniors and the elderly often have difficulty regulating body temperature as they age. That means they are less likely to notice overheating or the signs of heat stroke when it’s happening.
Make sure your elderly loved one stays indoors or in the shade during the hottest parts of the day (typically between noon and 3pm). If they are out during that time and tend to feel cold, have them dress in lighter cotton layers (think long sleeved cotton button ups) instead of sweaters or jackets. Hats can also help keep the sun at bay. Ask them regularly if they’re feeling warm or need to sit. And of course, help them stay hydrated which will help keep body temperatures constant.
You may also need to check at home to make sure they are running the air conditioner regularly. If you’re not able to check regularly, a home health aide or home companion can help you monitor this task.
Summer Vacation Concerns for Seniors
Many seniors look forward to travel well into their golden years, but summer vacations bring along their own safety concerns for the elderly. It is especially important to plan ahead for any vacations in the summer. Long travel times, running out of medications during travel or exhaustion are real safety issues during warm months. Here are a few ways to plan a worry-free summer vacation for (or with!) your elderly loved one:
Travel Arrangements: Try to choose the shortest travel time possible and call ahead to airlines for accommodations with boarding. Nearly every hotel is ADA compliant, but you might also want to call ahead to see if you can have ground floor rooms, or accessible bathrooms.
Medications: Make sure your loved one has enough of each of their medications for the full trip. If there are time zone changes, talk with their doctor about how this might affect how your loved one takes their meds. If they do run out of medications, have a plan in place for how to get refills. And, of course, always be sure to keep medications in carry-on bags or personal items, and not checked luggage.
Itinerary and Activities: It’s tempting to pack every museum, attraction and “must-see” into a trip with your elderly loved one, but scale back a bit. Heat stroke, dehydration and exhaustion are all possibilities on vacation (just like at home!) and can be even more complicated when your loved one is away from their primary physician and medical team. Plan activities for times of day when the weather is cooler and build in lots of time for rest.
Summer can be a wonderful time to relax, recharge and create new memories with your elderly loved one. When you work together with your loved one and their care team, you can be sure that this summer is your best and safest yet.
Home Health Aides and Companion Care for Seniors in Akron, Ohio
Our goal is to help seniors enjoy the independence of home for longer. My Family Home Health Care in Akron, Ohio offers a variety of in home health and companion care services to help your elderly parent continue to experience the joys of summer. Let My Family take care of your family. Contact us today for an assessment.