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By Dawn Klavon
Sponsored by Southern Made Home Healthcare
Summertime can be wonderful for seniors, full of outdoor events, travel and picnics. But it’s important to be aware of helpful tips to stay healthy amidst the heat, according to Shamira Westmoreland, owner of Southern Made Home Healthcare in Woodbridge.
“I advise our staff working in homes with seniors to go over emergency contact lists, plan outdoor activities according to weather forecasts, and stay cool no matter the temperature,” she said. “Our staff is trained to put the needs of its clients first, no matter what season.”
As we age, our tolerance to heat changes in the summer heat. More than 80% of heat-related deaths occur in people over 60, according to research conducted at Duke University. Seniors, in particular, are more vulnerable to heat-related episodes because of physiological factors like reduced sensitivity to thirst, poorer circulation and higher incidence of chronic conditions.
Westmoreland recommends the following tips for seniors to stay healthy this summer:
Drink water! Remember to drink plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty! While increasing water and fruit and vegetable juice intake, minimize caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, since they dehydrate your body. According to the Council on Aging, seniors should drink at least eight (8 ounce) glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. It’s important to drink more water if you are involved in physical activity, or if the weather is particularly hot.
Protect Yourself In The Sun
Sunscreen is the key to protecting your skin. Even on cloudy or overcast days, use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher when going outside. Buy sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and reapply after any water activities. Be sure your sunscreen is working effectively for you – discard old and expired sunscreen since the active ingredients may no longer be effective. Got a hat? It’s a smart way to add protection from the sun, when you can’t be in a shaded or covered area.
Reduce Strenuous Activities
Stay out of the heat! The warmer the weather, the more seniors should consider staying in a cool or air-conditioned place out of the sun.
Need an air conditioner?
Why not visit a movie theater, the mall, a friend or family member’s home or a community senior center? Also, the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps adults 65 and older who have limited incomes cover the cost of air conditioners and utility bills. To reach your Virginia’s LIHEAP program, call 1-866-674-6327.
Know the weather forecast and dress appropriately
Check the weather forecast ahead of time so you can dress for success in the heat. Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing is best, with natural, breathable fabrics like cotton. Try to avoid synthetic fibers. Even what color you wear can make a difference: Dress in light colors to reflect the sun and heat. Dark colors that will attract heat.
Be An Early Bird Or Night Owl
Remember, the sun is the most intense between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If at all possible, limit outdoor activity to morning and evening. In particular with extreme heat, stay inside.
Watch For Heat Stroke
Pay attention to the warning signs for heat stroke, like confusion, disorientation, dry skin, excessive tiredness, headache, lethargy, nausea and rapid pulse. Make sure you seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know experiences these symptoms.
Review Your Medication
Summertime is a great season to review your meds and their side effects, some of which are more pronounced in the heat. Some medications are known to cause side effects such as increased sensitivity to ultraviolet rays. Some meds can make people drowsy. Be sure to review with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.
Protect Your Eyes
You need to protect your eyes – and snazzy sunglasses are just the ticket! Avoid exposure to the sun, which can irritate and cause damage to your eyes. Wear sunglasses when outdoors that protect from UV rays AND protect your vision.
Schedule a Check-up
Summer is a terrific time to schedule a regular check-up with your primary care provider. If your goal is to maintain health, monitor chronic health issues and prevent illness, start by getting a check-up.
Find out more about Southern Made Home Care:
12531 Clipper Drive, Suite 202-8, Woodbridge, VA 22192. 703-4-2273 (CARE) [email protected] Bonded & Insured
Dawn Klavon is a journalist, author, media director and recent transplant to NOVA. She thrives on juggling multiple projects, discovering local hot spots, consuming blue crab and conquering sudoku puzzles. Dawn can be reached at [email protected].