Summer Safety for Seniors

7 Hot Weather Safety Tips for Senior Health in Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia is known for its glorious, lush summers, rife with dripping heat. That heat and humidity can be dangerous for anyone who has to be out in it for long, but for seniors, it can be even more dangerous. That’s why it’s so important, if you have senior loved ones, to check on them frequently and help them follow these 7 hot weather safety tips. For more senior health tips and to talk with our home care advisors, contact At Home Personal Care today at (703) 330-2323.

1. Drink Plenty of Water to Stay Hydrated

After a certain age, people have a harder time maintaining a healthy level of moisture in the body. Although everyone should keep drinking plenty of cool water during the summer, seniors can especially be at risk for dehydration. In fact, dehydration can strike seniors before they’re even aware of it. Make sure you and your senior loved ones keep a water bottle everywhere you go for the day, preferably one you can use to measure the amount of water taken in. Try to aim for about 8 cups a day, but talk with your doctor about any special needs that may be impacted by medications or individual health conditions. For seniors who have an especially hard time maintaining a healthy electrolyte balance, ask the doctor about electrolyte replacement beverages to cover fluids lost to excess perspiration.

2. Stay Out of the Heat if Possible

The aging body has a harder time working its own thermostat, so spending much time in the hot weather can trigger heat exhaustion or heat stroke much more quickly than it can for younger people. If possible, stay in an air-conditioned space during the middle part of the day when it’s hottest. That’s usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to schedule outdoor activities in the earlier morning or later in the evening, when the temperature starts to go down. Don’t exercise outside – do it in the air conditioning and stay hydrated! One way or the other, keep drinking cool water and stay in the shade wherever you can.

3. Discuss Heat Issues with Your Doctor

It can be more complicated during a hot summer for seniors with health conditions, and those who need special medications to manage them. Some medications and conditions can take up a lot of water, some can make you more sensitive to temperature. Be sure to discuss hot weather health tips with your doctor so that you can get a personalized hot-weather plan that can keep you safe and healthy during the summer.

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4. Make Frequent Social Contacts

Call, text, and visit your neighbors, friends and family during the summer to make sure everyone is staying safe in the heat. Staying in frequent contact with your support system not only helps you, but it can help you discover if you’ve got friends who are suffering with heat risks or loneliness. And science has established pretty well that maintaining social activity and connections can keep you healthier, both mentally and emotionally, during any season of the year. If you or a senior loved one is struggling to maintain social connections, At Home Personal Care can help with our team of companions, senior care specialists and ideas for great senior summer social activities: (703) 330-2323.

5. Wear Light, Loose, Breathable Clothing

Focus on a summer wardrobe with fabrics that wick moisture, improve air circulation and shield sensitive skin from excess sun exposure. Wear a wide-brimmed, breathable sun hat to shield your face and neck, and consider a pair of good UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.

6. Know How to Recognize and Counter Signs of Heat Stress in the Elderly

Heat stroke can happen quickly in seniors, so it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms and counter them quickly: 

  • Red, flushed skin
  • Dizziness, feeling faint
  • Passing out
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Lethargy, confusion, irritability
  • Body temp over 104F.
  • Heavy breathing or rapid pulse
  • The person is not sweating, even though it’s very hot

Get your senior loved one to a cool place immediately and apply cool compresses. Have them sip cool water. Take them to the emergency room if needed. Your loved one’s home care team can be a great resource for helping your senior loved one stay safe and avoid heat stress.

7. Avoid and Repel Biting Insects

Ask your doctor or home health care agency in Warrenton, Manassas or Fredericksburg about senior-safe insect repellents if you plan to spend time outdoors, especially in the evening when mosquitoes like to bite. Ticks are also out and about here in Northern Virginia, so protect against and check yourself for those after every outing. Ticks and mosquitoes can carry diseases that are especially troublesome for seniors.

The At Home Personal Care team hopes you all have a healthy, safe summer. Contact us at (703) 330-2323 for more senior health and safety information. 


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