We may only be in Spring at the moment, but the warmer weather is approaching! Be prepared to enjoy more outdoor activities by following these simple safety tips to ensure your elderly loved one, and yourself, are protected.
We have all heard the advice about drinking 8 – 10 cups of water each day, but this is even more true during the warmer months! As the weather heats up, you and your loved one, or those in your care, may spend more time outside, requiring you to drink more than the expected 10 cups.
Dehydration can set in quite quickly, and many aging seniors, and those in memory care, may miss the signals telling them that they are thirsty. Keeping a re-usable water bottle within easy reach and drinking throughout the day (whether indoors or out) is a great way to prevent the effects of dehydration. Stick to water, juice, or flavoured water (see yesterdays blog about flavour-boosting ice cubes!) rather than sugary drinks and coffee.
Limit Your Time Outdoors
Yes, it may be a beautiful day out with the sun shining and a light breeze, but staying too long outdoors can be problematic. Staying longer than a couple of hours outside may lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion and can cause serious health concerns. Plan for shorter outings to the garden or nearby park. Take breaks indoors to cool down and find shade, or plan your activities in the early morning or closer to sun set, as you may not realize the effects of direct sun exposure right away.
What you wear is important when spending time outdoors. Function over style is key! Avoid dark-coloured clothing as they absorb heat and become uncomfortable to wear after a short period of time outside. Applying sunscreen on face, hands, and other exposed areas of skin is vital to protect from sunburns and harmful UV rays.
Wearing hats, sunglasses, and light coloured, loose-fitting clothing can make a day outside more enjoyable and safe for all!
Some medications make people more sensitive to the effects of the sun, so check prescriptions or speak to your doctor about any possible reactions and precautions to take before heading outside.
Taking breaks from the outdoors, putting on the air conditioner or a fan, and keeping a cool, wet sponge or cloth to place on the back of your neck, wrists, arms, and ankles can help to ease the any discomfort.
Know the Warning Signs
Prevention is key, but knowledge is power. By following the steps outlined above, you are aiming to prevent any discomfort and challenges that may arise while being active in hot weather. However, serious health concerns may still arise, so know the warning signs:
Dehydration – Weakness, headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, confusion, and passing out.
Heat Stroke – A body temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher; red, hot, and dry skin; a fast pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea or vomiting; confusion or lethargy; and passing out.
Heat Exhaustion – Heavy sweating or no sweating, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, paleness, cold or clammy skin, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fast and weak pulse, fainting. Body temperature is generally between 98.6°F (37°C) and 104°F (40°C).
Heat Syncope (fainting caused by high temperatures) – Dizziness or fainting.
If you or those in your care experience any of the above symptoms, consult a doctor right away, move to a cool, shady place, and drink plenty of water or cool liquids.