Summer Safety and Health for Fairfax Seniors

August 3, 2012

We’re well into the beginning of summer, and what better way to celebrate than by spending time in the sun? It’s good, though, to keep in mind our health and safety when heading into the heat. Whether you are elderly yourself, or an in-home caregiver, you’ll want to prepare for and be aware of these heat-related health issues by taking steps that include the following.

Sunburn Prevention

Be sure to always use plenty of sunblock before stepping outside. Depending on the fairness of a person’s skin, the recommended SPF (sun protection factor) may vary. You can determine which SPF to choose by factoring in what type of skin you have, and how long you plan to be spending in the sun. Of course, the longer you are in the sun, the more sunscreen should be re-applied.

Dehydration

Sometimes, unknowingly, you can become so distracted in your activities that you forget to stop to take a drink. Dehydration is especially likely in the heat, because sweating drains even more water out of you, requiring more to go in. Some symptoms of dehydration could include:senior activities

  • Dry mouth
  • The eyes stop making tears
  • Sweating may stop
  • Muscle cramps
  • Heart palpitations
  • Light-headedness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased urine output

Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and remember that some drinks, like coffee, actually contribute to dehydration.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat injury, and is to be considered a medical emergency. If you suspect that someone has heat stroke (or sunstroke) you should call 911 immediately and render first aid yourself until the paramedics arrive. It is considered so serious because it can cause damage to the brain or other internal organs. It occurs from a prolonged exposure to high temperatures in the heat. So if you live in an area where the temperatures rise above 90 degrees often, you should be especially careful. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness and light-headedness
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
  • A temperature of 105+
A person suffering from any of these symptoms needs to by hydrated and cooled down immediately. If ice packs and fans will not help to lower a high fever, a cold shower or bath is important.
Adults over age 65 are particularly vulnerable to heat related illnesses because they adjust to heat more slowly than do younger people. No matter what your summer activities are, always be sure to limit your time in the sun and in extreme temperatures, and of course, have fun.

Writer, Kristy Billiingslea

Growing up working on classic hot rods with her father, Kristy and her dad restored a 1953 Ford pickup that she still owns. A big photography buff, Kristy's main passion is writing, and she loves any opportunity to support those who care for our seniors.

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