The dog days of summer are officially here! Kids are home from school, mom and dad are working summer hours, and there’s now plenty of time to spend with friends and family. Your family members who are likely most excited by this opportunity are your older loved ones who know you’ll finally have time to be around more.
Although the peak summer months are some of the most fun for these reasons, this time of year also comes with some challenges, especially for those older loved ones who you may now be seeing more often.
Here are some summer safety tips to keep in mind when spending time with older loved ones these next few months.
Summer-Specific Safety Tips
Starting off with the basics, hydration is one of the most important things to keep in mind when temperatures start to rise. Seniors are especially susceptible to dehydration thanks to pre-existing medical conditions, or even due to certain medications like beta-blockers or diuretics.
Advise them to limit their consumption of caffeine or alcohol or encourage them to alternate water with whatever else they may be drinking.
When visiting an older loved one, make sure their living space is properly insulated and air-conditioned. Make sure their fans and air conditioners are working, and also keep an eye out for any open windows that might be bringing in more hot air than cool.
When traveling with your older loved ones, also keep their environmental needs in mind and try to go places that are climate controlled, like libraries, shopping centers or movie theaters. Limit outdoor time at parks or the beach to avoid dehydration and sun exposure.
Offer to help your loved one swap out their winter wardrobe for their summer clothes. Pack up the parkas and snow boots and bring out the lightweight, breathable fabrics. Stick to light-colored clothing to avoid absorbing heat.
This applies to all ages, not only older adults. Use sunscreen on exposed skin, whether it’s cloudy or sunny, wear wide-brimmed hats, and use sunglasses when going out midday. Peak UV radiation is typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so this is when you and your loved ones are most susceptible to sun-related illness.
Lastly, take the time out of your day to visit or call. Your loved ones know you have extra time during the summer and these interactions go a long way. You can also use these interactions to gauge their wellness or any household needs.
While you’re spending some extra time with your loved ones this summer, it couldn’t hurt to also check in on some hazards that seniors face year-round. According to the CDC, one of the most common threats is the risk of falls, as over 36 million older adults in America fall every year.
To help mitigate this risk, here are some fall prevention tips to keep in mind while spending your summer days at your older loved one’s house.
Perhaps the easiest fix is to make sure your loved one’s home is clean. Don’t leave piles of laundry, pillows, or other clutter lying idly on the floor. Pick things up and put them where they belong to allow for clear pathways to limit the risk of falls.
Make sure that all light fixtures in the home are working properly and that there aren’t any dark nooks and crannies, which leave the possibility for a fall.
If your loved one has trouble moving around, the bathroom can pose a major obstacle. Consider installing handrails or grab bars near the toilet and shower or bathtub to allow for easier mobility and support while getting up and down, or in and out.
Another bathroom precaution is utilizing non-slip mats or adhesive strips on the bathroom floor. Bathroom floors are typically very slippery and represent one of the most common causes of senior falls. You can easily remedy this on your own by laying down some mats for a better grip.
This likely goes without saying, but make sure the flooring and stairs of your loved one’s home are in good condition. Address any issues regarding loose flooring or tiling and make sure surfaces are even.
Summer is meant to be the most fun time of the year for all ages. You can make sure this is still the case for your older loved ones by taking some of these precautions to keep their spirits high and their health in check.
For more information on how you can limit an older loved one’s risk of falling or other potential hazards in their home, you can download SYNERGY HomeCare’s Fall Prevention Guide or contact us.
For more information on caring for a loved one with dementia, download SYNERGY HomeCare’s free Memory Care Guide.