Visiting senior relatives, whether they reside in assisted living or are independent, is enjoyable when you can include outdoor activities. However, hot temperatures can make it difficult or even hazardous for older loved ones to be outside. Here are some suggestions on how seniors can stay safe and enjoy summer fun and sun.
5 Summer Outdoor Safety Tips for Seniors
1. Choose the Right Clothes
Layers and loose clothing are perfect for summer outings with seniors. If your parent is always cold, start with a light, long-sleeve top and loose, comfortable trousers. Bring a sweater or two for extra layers. Sandals allow feet to breathe and stay cool, but bring along a pair of socks in case your loved one gets chilly. A hat and sunglasses are necessary to protect vision and to keep the eyes and face from getting too much sun. Choose light colors and fabrics that reflect rather than absorb sunlight.
2. Keep Hydrated
Seniors often don’t have strong physical feelings of thirst, so watch their hydration and remind them to drink. Make sure any outing, even a picnic at the assisted living center, is supplied with plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as these substances can contribute to dehydration, and don’t eat too many salty foods.
3. Watch for Heat Stroke
The symptoms of heat stroke are dizziness, high body temperature, headache, confusion, and nausea. Pay attention to your loved one’s engagement in the activity and check in regularly to see if they’re feeling OK. Heat stroke can be life-threatening for seniors, so ensure they’re properly dressed and have access to shade and water.
4. Avoid the Middle Part of the Day
If possible, plan activities that avoid the hot part of the day, between 10-11 a.m. and 3-4 p.m., depending on where you are. The sun’s rays are most intense at these times, making it easier for heat stroke to occur. If you have an outdoor activity where they will be out during midday, ensure that shade of some kind will be available and keep a close eye on their well-being.
5. Use Sunscreen & Bug Repellent
Seniors’ thin skin is more fragile and, as they generally spend less time outdoors, prone to burning. Use a sensitive-skin sunscreen with at least 30 SPF — don’t forget hands and feet. Use a water-repellent formula if lounging at the shore. An unscented bug spray helps repel mosquitoes, ticks, and flies, which can carry West Nile virus or Lyme disease.
Hillview Health Care Center in La Crosse, WI, is a community that offers independent senior living, assisted living, and skilled nursing services. They provide quality, compassionate care with a beautiful outdoor setting and programs and services for independent and assisted living lifestyles. Call (608) 789-4800 to inquire about vacancies, or visit them online to learn more about their facilities.