Summer is a time meant to be enjoyed by everyone, included older loved ones. But oftentimes, a lack of pre-planning can render seniors defenseless during heat waves and high temperatures.
According to dripdrop.com, from 1999-2009, statistics showed that more than 40 percent of all-heat related deaths in America involved seniors over 65. And each year, 200 adults age 50 and older die because of high heat and humidity – many of which were preventable.
So, how do your keep your older loved one safe while making sure they’re able to make the most out of the hot, summer months?
Protect Against Skin Cancer
Because seniors have had the most the most exposure to the sun in their lifetimes, they’re likely to experience the most harmful effects. Over the years, sunburn and sun tanning begin to harm the skin’s DNA, causing premature aging. Experts say, five instances of sunburn can double a person’s chances of developing skin cancer. That, along with a thinner skin, a weakened immune system, and a lessened ability to heal, each increase the risk of melanoma.
Fortunately for our loved ones, skin cancer is preventable. Encourage them to stay indoors when the weather is the hottest. Early morning and evening are the best times to venture out. When outdoors, wear protective clothing, like long-sleeved shirts and pants, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
Check for Unusual Skin Growths
One of the best defenses against skin cancer is early detection. Make sure your senior or a home health care professional from a reputable home care agency does a routine check for abnormal growths on the skin. Lesions that change in color or increase in size OR cause pain, itching, bleeding or irritation, contact a doctor right away.
Wear the Proper Shoes
We all want to look our best no matter what time of year it is. But as we age, fashion begins to take a backseat to comfort and safety. Our loves ones’ skin gets more and more sensitive-especially on the hands and feet. That’s why its important to buy shoes that not only keep they feet cool, but also protect against sunburn and falls.
Beware of Bugs
It seems like summer is primetime for bugs and other pests to make their annual debut both inside and out of your home. Many insects, like mosquitos, are more than just a nuisance – they can also be carriers of harmful diseases including malaria, West Nile Virus and yellow fever. If your loved one is planning to be outside for an extended amount of time, encourage them to apply bug or mosquito repellant to both exposed and non-exposed areas of their bodies and leave bug spray within reach at home.
We can’t say this enough. As we age, we don’t always feel as thirsty as we actually are. Seniors don’t sweat as much as younger adults, making it harder to regulate their body temperature. This leaves them at higher risk for dehydration and heat stroke.
Remind your loved one to take water with them on outings and keep things like ice, popsicles and fruit on hand, while avoiding caffeine or alcohol which makes them more thirsty.