Sunny Days, Healthy Ways: The Crucial Role of Summer Wellness for Seniors

Jun 12, 2024 | Blog

Summer in New England is a time to embrace the warmth and enjoy the outdoors. However, it’s essential to stay vigilant about health and safety during these hot months, especially for seniors who can be more severely impacted by the heat. We’re happy to provide these tips for summer wellness for seniors to help you navigate the season comfortably.

Hydration: The Foundation of Summer Health

Hydration is a cornerstone of wellness, especially during the summer. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at conserving water, and our sense of thirst diminishes. This increases the risk of dehydration, which can lead to serious health problems such as urinary and kidney issues, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water. Aim for at least 8–10 glasses of water daily. Carry a water bottle to remind yourself to drink regularly.
  • Eat hydrating foods. Incorporate water-rich foods like cucumbers, watermelon and strawberries into your diet. These foods help keep you hydrated and provide essential nutrients.
  • Limit diuretics. Reduce consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as they can increase urination and lead to dehydration.

Recognizing Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Understanding the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is crucial for preventing severe health outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 119,605 emergency room visits in the U.S. for heat-related illnesses between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023, with 92% occurring between May and September.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache

Signs of Heat Stroke (a medical emergency)

  • High body temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Confusion or slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or someone else exhibits signs of heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention. Move to a cooler place, use cool cloths or a bath to lower body temperature and hydrate if possible.

Sun-Sensitive Medications: Protecting Your Skin

Certain medications can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn and skin damage. These sun-sensitive drugs include some antibiotics, antihistamines, and medications for blood pressure and diabetes.

Tips for Managing Sun Sensitivity

  • Check your medications. Review your medications with your pharmacist to determine if they increase sun sensitivity.
  • Use sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on all exposed skin. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating. Even if you are not taking medications that cause sun sensitivity, this is a good daily practice.
  • Wear protective clothing. Opt for long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from UV rays.
  • Seek shade. Stay out of direct sunlight during peak hours (10 AM to 4 PM) to minimize exposure.

Your Partners in Summer Safety

Enjoying the sunny days of summer is a wonderful opportunity for seniors to stay active and healthy. By staying hydrated, recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses and managing sun-sensitive medications, you can make the most of this beautiful season while safeguarding your health.

If you have any questions about medications you are taking, including how they may impact you during the summer heat, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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