Jun 1, 2017 by Glenn Savage
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines."
From Shakespeare's' Sonnet 18
It does not take famous poetry to let us know that summer is here with its increasing heat and longer days. It is a nice reminder, however, to enjoy it while we can because, before we know it, fall will be here. While most seniors have been waiting all winter and spring for the joys of summer, there are some summer tips for any caregiver to remember to increase summer safety and enjoyment.
For many seniors, aging has added a number of challenges. From a plethora of medications to assistive devices, there are many considerations and boxes to be checked prior to setting off on a summer adventure, even if it is only for a few hours. Seniors with a caregiver, who takes the time to plan their summer activities, have dramatically lower instances of age-related problems and mishaps. Let's take a look at some of the most important areas of summer trip planning:
Medication: Prior to going out for the day, make sure medications have been taken and that those which may be needed are packed. A caregiver should plan accordingly if medication needs to be taken with a meal. Several medications common to seniors cause photosensitivity, which makes a personal more sensitive to sunlight. Check with your loved one's doctor or pharmacist to see if any special precautions need to be taken, especially if the photosensitivity impacts vision since this can lead to an increased fall risk.
Sun Protection: A senior's skin is more prone to burning and cancer than the skin of younger individuals. By wearing clothing that limits the exposed skin and using liberal amounts of broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 30, risks can be minimized. Hats with wide brims and sunglasses are also highly recommended.
Timings: By planning activities carefully, a caregiver can arrange for seniors to be indoors during the peak of the summer heat (11am to 1pm). Not only does this help prevent heat exhaustion (or worse) but it limits the skin's exposure to the most intense of the sun's rays.
Parking and Lines: When it is 90 degrees outside, the blacktop can be well over 100 degrees. By the time the air temperature rises to 95, the blacktop can be upwards of 140. Long walks across parking lots should be avoided, especially for seniors who have difficulty walking, are frail, or have other impairments that increase the risk of a fall. Plan to arrive at locations early enough to find parking in covered areas or that is close to your location. The same precaution should be taken if there is a likelihood of long lines or spending long periods of time standing in the sun.
Hydration: In conjunction with proper attire, the best way to beat the summer heat is to stay properly hydrated. For most seniors, this means a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water should be consumed each day. This amount should be increased with exercise, long periods of time in the sun, or drinking caffeine or alcohol.
In short, summer is a great time for seniors to get out of the house and enjoy life. A caregiver needs to ensure that it is done safely, and, with proper planning and a little foresight, it can be.
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