Young and old alike love summer. It’s a time to be with friends and family, enjoying the outdoors and celebrating with festive picnics and activities. Because we tend to be more active during warmer months, summer can pose additional health and safety risks, particularly for older adults. Use the following 6 tips as a guide to ensure a memorable and safe summer.
1. Be aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re walking from the car to a nature trail, or making your way to a picnic spot, pay attention to your surroundings. Seniors should be careful to walk on flat surfaces and be very careful when walking on sand or grass, which might not provide stable footing. Wear comfortable shoes and carry a walking stick for support if needed.
2. Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water at all times. The ability to be aware of and respond to thirst slowly diminishes as we age. As a result older people are at risk for not staying properly hydrated. It’s a good idea to carry a water bottle and remember, you may need to drink more if you're going to be active in the summer heat.
3. Food safety. Adults older than 65 years of age are more likely to get sick from harmful bacteria found in food. You can't tell if a food is safe to eat by how it looks or tastes. Proper storage, cooking and handling are the only ways to ensure safe food. You want to pay particular attention to food safety in warm weather. Avoid foods that may have been sitting out for long periods of time. When going out, carry non-perishable snacks. A granola bar is easy to carry and may do the trick if you’re hungry and unsure of the food that’s available.
4. Apply sunscreen. Remember to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outdoors, even on cloudy days (that's because UVA rays can go right through the clouds and still cause damage). Use generous amounts of UVA- and UVB- blocking sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply every two hours or more often after swimming or sweating.
5. Protect against bugs. Bugs can be very annoying during the summer months and can ruin outdoor celebrations if you’re not protected against them. But insects such as potentially disease-carrying insects can also be harmful. Use insect repellents to guard against ticks, which can carry Lyme disease, and mosquitoes, which can carry the West Nile virus and other viruses. West Nile virus is especially dangerous for older adults. Most of the deaths due to West Nile virus have been among people over 50 years old, and half of those deaths were among people over 77 years old.
6. Crowds, crowds and more crowds. It seems that everywhere you go there are large groups of people gathering. With crowds, there can be lots of pushing and shoving, and it can be easy to get separated from family and friends. If you are an older adult, a family member or friend should stay nearby to help keep you safe. It’s like having a designated companion.
Remember, with careful planning your summer will be enjoyable and one that you’ll remember for a long time. So review the tips, gather your friends and let the celebrations begin! With a little care, you’ll find summer is a great time to be outdoors!
About Hebrew SeniorLife Outpatient Health Services
The Outpatient Services at Hebrew SeniorLife offer high-quality, specialized care to Boston-area seniors. We provide a wide range of services including treatment for conditions such as hearing loss, memory disorders, osteoporosis, difficulty with speech and language, chronic illness, rehabilitation and wound care. Our Outpatient Services providers are experts who understand the unique health needs of older adults and work to improve each patient’s health and quality of life.