Who doesn’t love the longer, warmer, relaxing days of the summer months? With family get-togethers and reasons to celebrate such as graduations, weddings, summer holiday gatherings, and more, many older adults are more active during the summertime. And since it’s easy for older adults to rapidly become overheated, it’s critical to know how to spot heat-related health concerns, and to know what to do to protect against them.
Top Summer Health Concerns for Older Individuals
If any of the following health conditions are suspected, it’s imperative to get medical help immediately.
Dehydration: For the elderly, feelings of thirst are diminished, making it more challenging to make sure they remain hydrated. Even if the older person says he isn’t thirsty, it’s important for him to drink at least 8 – 10 cups of fluid per day, and more when spending time out of doors. Plain water is best, but sports drinks containing electrolytes are also beneficial during warmer weather. Symptoms that could identify dehydration include headache, weakness, dizziness, confusion, muscle cramps, and losing consciousness.
Heat stroke: Heat stroke is an extremely critical condition that can be deadly. Indicators include heightened body temperature (103 degrees or more), a quickened pulse, red, hot, dry skin, headache, dizziness, vomiting or nausea, and loss of consciousness. Call 911 immediately if heat stroke signs are evident, and get the individual to a cooler environment, placing cool, damp cloths on the ankles, wrists, neck and armpits to help lower body temperature, encouraging the person to sip some water or a sports drink if possible.
Heat exhaustion: A combination of dehydration and overheating, heat exhaustion can result in stroke if not treated immediately. It’s evidenced by either no sweating or heavy sweating, lethargy, cold/clammy skin, headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, and a quickened or faint pulse. Help the older person move to a cool location if heat exhaustion is suspected, and use the cooling strategies noted for heat stroke above until assistance arrives.
Helping Seniors Remain Safe
Prevention is the best remedy for summer-related health issues. Try these preventative steps to avoid complications and make sure that the individual stays healthy and well this summer.
Avoid mid-day outside activities. It’s safer to enjoy being outside in the summer in the early morning or later in the day, when the sun isn’t as strong. If going to an outdoor function during the day, it’s best for the senior to remain in the shade.
Plan indoor excursions. There are loads of pleasant activities older individuals can enjoy in the comfort of an air-conditioned environment. Plan a shopping trip at the mall or a visit to a museum, take in a movie together, spend time at the local senior center or library.
Stay hydrated. Keep an adequate amount of bottled water with you when venturing out with a senior, and steer clear of alcoholic and caffeinated drinks, which are dehydrating.
For more tips for helping seniors thoroughly enjoy the summer months, get in touch with Compassionate Nursing Services, a Chesterfield companion care provider for the surrounding areas. We’re always here to share educational materials or to partner with you to ensure your senior loved one stays safe, healthy and happy, no matter the season. Contact us any time at 314-432-4312. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the communities where we offer care.