Summer finally has arrived. Perhaps we should knock on wood to ensure the warm weather is here to stay!
Now is the time to enjoy all the wonderful activities that come along with summertime weather. The lazy days of summer mean exactly that - longer days filled with sunshine, fun-filled family events and good times. There is something about the sun shining that brightens your mood and helps make the days fly by.
However, along with the warmth of the sun comes its brutal heat. The sun and heat can be harmful, especially for seniors. Seniors need to take special precautions to make sure their enjoyment of summer is not burdened by the pain of sunburn, dehydration or heat exhaustion.
As we age, we become more vulnerable to summer's heat and humidity. The American Geriatrics Society's Foundation for Health in Aging, or FHIA, reports that most of the 200 Americans who die each summer of heat-related complications are older than age 50.
FHIA warns that high temperatures can be very dangerous to seniors and offers seniors and their caregivers a wide variety of hot weather safety tips. Recommendations include:
? Turn on the air conditioner or go to an air conditioned place - senior center, mall, movie theater or library, for example. Fans are not sufficient.
? Stay indoors during excessive heat, and when outside, avoid the sun as much as possible, wear hats and sunglasses, and use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
? Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
? Avoid strenuous activity.
? Take cool showers, baths or sponge baths.
FHIA also recommends that family members or friends check on seniors at least twice a day during a heat wave. Family and professional caregivers can make a special effort to help seniors get enough to drink, as the need for water and nonalcoholic and decaffeinated beverages rises with the temperature. This includes keeping a good variety of beverages on hand and encouraging frequent drinking of smaller quantities as opposed to less frequent drinking of larger quantities.
So please, enjoy this time of year. Get outside and take in every minute of this far-too-short season. Just don't forget to protect yourself and enjoy the heat and sun in small doses.