Summer is well and truly here which for most of us is fantastic!
Summer is the season for outdoor fun, BBQ’s and relaxation. But with higher temperatures and stronger sun rays it can also pose some serious health threats if the proper precautionary measures are not taken. This is even more important when it comes to the elderly and for those caring for elderly loved ones to bear in mind.
See below 7 top tips for keeping healthy and well this summer for seniors:
Keep your cool
Older people are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. Keeping your body temperature under control this summer is key to keeping healthy and well. Follow below as an easy guide:
Drink cold drinks and eat smaller cold meals such as salads and fruit.
Wear light coloured, loose fitting clothes made from natural fibres like cotton.
If you must go outside, apply sunscreen and wear a hat.
Plan your day around the heat – avoid being outdoors between 11am and 5pm.
Put wet towels or cool packs on your arms or neck or put your feet in cool water.
Take cool showers or baths.
Minimise physical activity, do all household chores early in the morning when it is coolest.
2. Drink plenty of H20
The elderly are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people as we lose the ability to conserve water as we age. The elderly can also become less aware of thirst and have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes.
It’s important to keep well hydrated, especially in the hotter summer months. Drinking the recommended eight to ten glasses of water a day can help prevent illness, keep your bones and muscles healthy, help you maintain your weight, improve brain function and best of all, fuel your activities throughout the day!
Drink plenty of water even if you do not feel thirsty – check the colour of your wee – if it’s pale, you’re drinking enough. Go easy on alcoholic drinks and tea and coffee as they are more likely to dehydrate you. If you go outside, carry a bottle of water with you and keep your fridge stocked with cold water and ice.
3.Slip, slop, slap
Everyone, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. The elderly especially need the extra sun protection to help keep them healthy.
Vision loss can be common among the elderly, and too much exposure to the sun can irritate eyes and cause further damage. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and preserve your vision.
We all love the summer heat, but it is important to stay in the shade whenever possible. Try to limit your time in the direct sunshine between 10am and 4pm, when UV exposure is at its peak. If you are going to be outside, be sure to apply plenty of sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure. It is also a good idea to wear a hat and sunglasses whenever possible.
Remember to get your skin checked too!
More info here
4. Keep your food safe
Make sure food that needs refrigeration is properly stored (the temperature in the fridge should be between 0°C and 5°C). Defrost foods in the fridge, not on the kitchen bench. For more information about keeping food safe please refer to the NSW Food Authority.
If your fridge and freezer is affected by a power failure, please refer to the NSW Food Authority.
5. Stay active
Remember summer exercise doesn’t have to stop because of the rising temperatures. Instead of exercising outside, change your exercise plan and take it indoors or to the pool. Join a gym, take up an activity class, or get a group of friends around for a walk in the cooler evening.
If you enjoy outdoor activities such as walking or gardening, be sure to wear suitable clothing and protective gear. It is also important to keep track of time. Do not stay out for long periods and make sure to drink even more water than usual when exercising.
6. See your doctor
Check with your GP to make sure any medications you are on won't be affected by higher temperatures -- especially if you don't have air conditioning in your home. Some medications are less effective if stored at temperatures higher than room temperature.
If you have any nagging pains or concerns, seeing your doctor is very important. Regular check- ups are also crucial as we age. You want to feel your best during the summer months, so you can enjoy all of the pleasure summertime offers. Schedule an appointment for a check-up to make sure illness doesn’t impact you this summer.
7. Keep in touch
High temperatures can be life-threatening, so communication plays an important role in ensuring the safety of the elderly. For seniors, you should let friends and family know if you will be spending an extended period of time outdoors, even if you are only gardening. Elderly carers should check on the health and welfare of their loved ones at least twice a day.
If you follow these easy tips, there's no reason you can't have an enjoyable and fun-filled summer -- no matter how old you are. Enjoy summer fun!