Most people think of outdoor activities when they think of the summer season. From pool parties to baseball games, and from tending gardens to picnics, there are a variety of outdoor activities that can truly only be enjoyed during summer.
Yet, the summer season can be challenging for many older adults. Too much time outside can lead to problems such as sunburn and dehydration. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over the age of 65 are more at risk of heat-related health problems. Older adults lose the ability to regulate their body temperature effectively, due to age and/or chronic medical conditions. Certain prescription medications can also interfere with an older adult’s ability to control body temperature or produce adequate sweat.
It’s good to know that with a few precautions, seniors can safely enjoy the great outdoors. Here are five practical ways seniors can stay safe in the sun this summer.
Wear Sunscreen Daily
Many seniors are in the habit of skipping sunscreen, thinking that they’ll only be outdoors for a short amount of time. Yet, it’s important for seniors to wear sunscreen no matter how long they plan to be outside. Older adult skin has less fat and water, causing it to appear thinner. Thinner skin offers less protection against UV rays. To prevent sunburn and skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen at least 15 minutes before outdoor activity. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
Seniors are also guilty of neglecting to drink water. As we age, our thirst response dimities. This means that many seniors don’t even realize that they are dehydrated. Dehydration puts seniors at risk for an assortment of health problems, including heat stroke. Seniors can stay safe in the sun by staying on top of their hydration. Aim to drink between six to eight glasses of water each day. Carry a water bottle with you while you’re outdoors. If you’re more active, increase your hydration to replenish fluids lost through excessive sweating.
Wear the Right Clothes
The right clothing can prevent sunburn and protect older adults from the risk of heat stroke when outdoors. Choose loose long-sleeved shirts and pants made from lightweight, breathable materials. These garments are ideal sun protection for older adults because they don’t need to be reapplied like sunscreen. Moisture-wicking material can help older adults regulate their body temperature and reduce their risk for heat stroke. Seniors should avoid wearing thicker sweaters and pants, even if they feel cold. Clothing made from thicker fabrics aren’t as breathable and can trap heat.
Stay in the Shade
The outdoors can be a safe place for seniors to relax, if they stay in the shade. The shade offers more protection from the sun than sitting in the sun itself. If your outdoor space lacks shade, purchase a large outdoor umbrella that can add more shade to your patio. Wear a wide-brimmed hat when you go for a walk or work in your garden so that you always have shade with you. Keep your eyes safe in the sun by wearing sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV protection.
The last way seniors can stay safe in the sun is to slow down. High humidity doesn’t allow sweat to evaporate as quickly. Hotter temperatures require the body to work harder to keep its core temperature regulated. Seniors can stay safe in the sun by slowing down. Choose outdoor activities wisely. Slow down how fast you walk around the neighborhood and don’t try to tackle too much lawn care on hot days. Pay attention to the heat index. Stay inside, in the comfort of the air conditioning, on extremely hot days.
Speaking of slowing down, if you are a senior who is currently exploring residential care options, let Senior Living Solutions assist you in the process. We offer a comprehensive solution that provides a secure and valuable service to our clients, at no cost to you. Our clients never receive a bill for our service. Whether you need help discerning which senior living option is appropriate for you, are looking for a referral for estate planning, or want to explore in-home care, we can help. We have already vetted senior care options in the area and can save you a lot of time. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today by calling 501-650-3013.