Summer is a time for backyard barbecues, lazy days at the beach, and road trips to see family and friends. But hot summer weather can also pose dangerous health risks and adults over age 65 are particularly vulnerable to heat-related conditions. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to help you recognize and prevent common summer senior health risks.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are caused when one’s core body temperature rises too high. Heat exhaustion is the first stage of hyperthermia and some of its symptoms include heavy bouts of sweating, dizziness, faster and then weaker pulse, nausea, and headache. If your loved one shows these symptoms, move out of the sun and into an air-conditioned building and drink plenty of water or a sports drink with electrolytes.
Another senior health risk is heatstroke, which is the next stage of hyperthermia. Heatstroke is far more severe than heat exhaustion. It takes place when a person heats to an internal temperature above 104 degrees and can include symptoms like rapid breathing, confusion, vomiting, slurred speech, or even seizures. In the case of heatstroke, take your loved one to an emergency room or call 911 right away, as heat stroke can cause internal organ failure.
Dehydration is another summer health threat to seniors. As we age, our sense of thirst diminishes and seniors may consume fewer fluids throughout the day than their bodies require. Senior dehydration can occur anytime, even without exposure to extreme heat. To prevent the dangers of dehydration, make sure your loved one is drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Some foods like watermelon are very hydrating and can supplement seniors’ fluid intake throughout the day. Especially after physical activity, it’s important to replenish with water or a sports drink containing electrolytes to prevent the dangers of senior dehydration.
Sunburn and Sun Poisoning
Getting sunburned is painful and can be particularly dangerous for seniors. Sunburn is characterized by red skin, peeling skin, blisters, and sometimes fevers. Sun poisoning includes itchy bumps on the sunburned skin and can also cause nausea. Seniors may have more sensitive skin than younger adults, causing them to burn more quickly. You can prevent sunburn and sun poisoning by limiting the amount of sun exposure and wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, even if it’s cloudy outside. Sunglasses and wide-brim hats can also help seniors avoid the harmful rays of the sun, whether they’re taking a walk, on the beach, or enjoying a round of golf.