This article provided by Comfort Keepers, an independent caregiving provider in the Masonic Value Network
From picnics and barbecues to baseball games and festivals, summer often presents numerous opportunities to spend quality time with friends and family – all under the warm sunny skies. For many seniors, summer is the perfect chance to get out and make connections with new people and strengthen existing relationships. But while the nice weather may be enticing, the excessive heat that comes with the sun’s powerful rays can be life-threatening.Those of all ages should take proper precautions in the summer, but seniors especially need to safeguard themselves from the threat of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration.
In this article, we’ll explore what makes seniors more sensitive to the sun, and look at ways they can reduce their risk of the aforementioned conditions, so that they can enjoy a relaxing summer.
As we age, it becomes increasingly difficult for our bodies to adjust to shifting temperatures. For one, our ability to perspire or sweat – arguably our primary heat regulation mechanism – loses efficiency the older we get. Other factors that influence heat sensitivity include decreased blood circulation, certain prescription medications (particularly diuretics or those taken for hypertension), and being overweight or underweight. These factors can all contribute to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
One of the other major threats that warm weather can bring about is dehydration, when water/fluid loss is greater than water/fluid intake. Similar to how we don’t perspire as well as we used to, our body also has a harder time conserving water the older we get. Seniors’ sense of thirst also diminishes. If a senior relies solely on thirst to stay hydrated, his or her risk of becoming dehydrated can increase significantly. Dehydration that goes unchecked can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, reduced blood volume, urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney failure, and even death.
As you can surmise, the threats are real and the consequences are quite serious when it comes to summer heat. However, it’s important to note that these conditions are not unique to seniors and certainly don’t represent an inevitable part of aging. Seniors can still experience a fun, enjoyable summer if they follow a few simple tips:
Summer should never be viewed as a time of restriction. Seniors should be able to experience all the fun, laughter, and excitement that comes along with summer – but in a smart, safe way. At Comfort Keepers®, we can help make that happen. Our professional caregivers can see that seniors are staying hydrated, taking breaks from the heat, and taking all the proper precautions. Comfort Keepers can also provide transportation to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, or wherever senior clients may need to go. Call (888) 778-9619 to find a local Comfort Keepers’ office.
It’s estimated that, from 1999 to 2009, approximately 40% of all heat-related deaths in the United States were of those 65 and older.
AgingCare.com “Protecting Seniors from Dangerous Summer Heat” by June Fletch. Web. 2018.
SeniorAdvisor.com “Summer Safety Tips for Seniors” by Kristen Hicks. Web. 2018.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Heat and Older Adults.” Web. 2017.
Drip Drop ORS Dehydration Relief. “Seniors and Heat Illness: Why the Elderly Are More Affected by the Heat.” Web. 2014.