senior woman overheated Summer is the perfect time of year for outdoor fun. We enjoy beach days, backyard barbeques, open air shopping malls and holiday parades in the warm sunshine. Despite the carefree nature of summer, it’s important for seniors to take precautions against the sun and heat.

Keep the following 7 tips in mind for a safe summer season.

1. Communicate with Others

If you live on your own, make sure someone knows where you are before going outside. On a hot day, ask your child, a neighbor or friend to check on you after an hour spent outdoors. If that person doesn’t hear from you after 60 minutes, he or she will know something might have happened.

2. Dress Appropriately

Dark colors attract the sun, so always wear light-colored clothing when spending time outdoors. Protect your face and neck from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat and wear sunglasses or transition lenses to preserve your vision.

3. Keep Cool Inside

When it’s hot outside, the best thing to do is stay inside. Older adults can keep cool in an air-conditioned home, shopping mall, movie theater or senior center. Take tepid showers or baths and use cool washcloths if you start to feel overheated.

4. Know the Signs of Hyperthermia

Hyperthermia is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body becomes dangerously overheated. Heat stroke is one of the most common forms of hyperthermia. This condition is characterized by:

  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headache

According to the University of Chicago Medical Center, 40 percent of heat-related fatalities in the US affect people 65 years and older. To prevent heat stroke, stay inside during peak daylight hours, take breaks in the shade when outside and drink plenty of water.

5. Read Your Medications

Check the side effects of any prescribed medications, which may include increased sensitivity to the sun. Before gardening, walking or playing tennis, talk with your doctor about spending time outdoors. While you’ll likely be able to enjoy your favorite summer activities, it may be recommended you wait for cooler days or after sundown.

6. Stay Hydrated

Many experts advise drinking eight glasses of water a day, but seniors often experience increased thirst. Up your water intake when spending time outside and limit caffeinated beverages – soda, coffee and alcohol do not contain the electrolytes needed to hydrate. Keep a reusable water bottle on-hand and make sure it stays filled throughout the day.

7. Wear Sunscreen

Skin cancer is commonly diagnosed in older adults after continuous exposure to the sun over the years. Keep your skin protected with high SPF sunscreen and reapply after every couple hours spent outside. Even on an overcast day, UV rays can pass through the clouds.
Have an enjoyable summer at any age with these seven tips for senior sun safety. To learn more about the care we can provide your aging loved one, contact West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center today.