We live with wide seasonal changes. We prepare for extended periods of cold. Spring’s mild temperatures lead to long days when we welcome air conditioning! We pride ourselves on being ready for anything nature sends our way. But are we? This article offers safety tips for helping your elderly parents safely enjoy our lovely summer days!
Safe Fun in the Sun!
Regardless of skin type, your parent can promote skin health by using ultraviolet ray (UV) protection. Steps include the use of UV protective eyeglasses, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat and loose clothing with ample coverage. It is wise to seek shade and avoid strong, direct sunrays from mid-morning to mid-to-late afternoon.
Staying hydrated and using sunscreen adds protection. These are important because our skin thins with age, allowing UV rays to be more deeply absorbed.
The AARP (2014) suggests using sunscreen that:
- Is SPF 30-50
- Offers UVA and UVB ray protection
- Is water-resistant with 80 minutes of protection
Consider testing the sunscreen on a small area of the forearm to assure compatibility with your parent’s skin. People with skin concerns are advised to consult with their physician about sunscreen recommendations.
How to Avoid Becoming Overheated
Summer outings can extend into the warmest parts of the day. Your elder mom or dad is more likely to be harmed by heat than someone younger because of physical changes that come with age. Chronic illness and medications can also affect a person’s response to heat. Steps to take to protect your parent on outings include:
- Drinking water—and if on a fluid restriction, getting the doctor’s advice about how to adjust the amount during hot spells.
- Avoid outdoor time in the middle of the day
- Limiting any activity that is the least bit strenuous to the day’s cooler hours
- Using the National Weather Service’s Heat Index that shows temperature about humidity. This guide indicates when to use caution. A day when the temperature is 86 degrees and the humidity is 60% is one of ‘extreme caution
- Viewing the CDC’s Heat-Related Illnesses chart that lists signs and treatment of heat exhaustion, cramps, and stroke. Fainting, headache, nausea, and weakness are concerns that need immediate attention
Periods of high or extended heat can cause indoor temperature extremes that also contribute to heat-related illnesses. Keeping your parents’ home cool is one step toward safety in hot weather. If their dwelling becomes too warm, consider a temporary move or methods to cool part of their space.
Ticks Can Spell Trouble!
Unfortunately, some tick bites result in illness. Ticks cling to grass, a passing dog’s fur, or our pant legs. Any time spent outside is best followed by ‘tick check!’ It’s made most easy by wearing light-colored clothing. After clothes are checked and removed, it’s time to do a full-body inspection, aided by a mirror or a helper.
The CDC shows that tick removal is best done by:
- Using tweezers and pulling straight up with steady pressure
- Disposing of the tick by flushing in the toilet or immersing in alcohol
- Not touching it with your fingers
- Washing the bite area well with alcohol or soap and water, and then scrub your hands!
- Calling your doctor or going to urgent care right away if it is embedded
Even if you do not find a tick, routinely check your parent for rashes or areas of inflammation and call the doctor with any concerns, as ticks can bite and move on unnoticed.
Home Instead Senior Care professionals will offer you other tips that promote summer health and safety for your elderly loved ones. They are a good resource for information about eldercare. Be sure to plan a free consultation to learn more about home care options and the ways these provide assurances for your family.