Summer's heat can be physically exhausting for anyone, but elderly people may not feel heat like younger people do. By the time an elderly person notices they're too warm, they may be in grave distress. It's important for elderly people and their caregivers to know how to stay safe in heat and sunshine.
Keep the Elderly Safe this Summer
- Try to make sure the elderly person avoids strenuous physical activity, especially during the hottest time of the day (typically between 10 AM and 3 PM). Try to schedule any exercise or other physical tasks for the cooler hours of the evening, after the sun has gone down.
- Encourage the elderly person to take frequent breaks so that they can cool down. Be sure that they have a place available to them that's out of the sun, preferably indoors and with air conditioning. This may be the home, or it may be a public indoor space such as a library or a shopping mall.
- If the person must be in the sun during peak hours, be sure that they're protected from the sun's UV radiation, which can cause sunburns and skin cancer. Ideally, they should wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect themselves. Steer them toward light colors, short-sleeved shirts and pants, and fabrics that breathe.
- Insect-borne diseases like West Nile can be especially dangerous to elderly people. Be sure that the person is using bug spray when going outside, especially at twilight, by water, or in tall grass.
- If the elderly person lives at home and does not have a full-time caretaker, do your best to get to know their neighbors. See if the neighbors are willing to check in on the person occasionally, especially on dangerously hot days.
Summer can be a dangerous time of year for the elderly, but with these tips your patient or loved one will be safe and comfortable.