Summer is here which means more options for time outdoors. Time spent outdoors can improve overall health and wellness offering many opportunities to be physically active. It helps reduce stress levels and can help promote mental health. While the outdoors has a great deal of benefits, it is still important to take precautions as temperatures rise and opportunities for sun exposure increase.
As we age, our bodies have greater difficulty regulating temperature due to reduced sweat production and changes in how our body stores fat. Sweating is our body’s number one way to regulate heat, and as nature’s temperatures rise along with internal body temperature, it puts seniors at increased risk of heat stroke.
Here are some tips to stay safe and healthy this summer as you venture outdoors for some fun in the sun.
It is recommended that our bodies take in a minimum of 8 glasses of water and/or juice every day in order to stay hydrated. Delicious treats like popsicles and fruits that are high in water content like melons, pineapples, and oranges to name a few, are also excellent ways to aid in our fluid intake. Try to avoid, however, caffeinated drinks and alcohol as these can lead to dehydration.
If temperatures and humidity are extremely high, stay indoors.
Extremely high temperatures and humidity make it harder for evaporation to occur, which makes our bodies work harder to maintain a normal internal temperature, so consider being an early bird or night owl if you want to be outdoors. The sun is its most intense between the hours of 10 AM – 4 PM so limiting your outdoor time to outside of that time frame reduces your risk of overheating.
Don’t forget skin and eye protection.
Now that we’ve mentioned the sun’s intensity, here is your friendly reminder to wear sunscreen! While you’re blocking your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays with sunscreen, hats, and clothing like sun shirts, don’t forget to bring your sunglasses outside with you. Sunglasses can help block your eyes from UV rays, protecting your vision.
Loose-fitting and lightweight clothing that’s made up of natural fibers like cotton or bamboo can help keep you cool and comfortable. Be sure to opt for light colors rather than dark colors as the lighter colors will reflect the sun and heat while the darker colors will attract them.
Know your prescriptions.
Check your prescriptions to see if any of them have the side effect of increased sun sensitivity. If you’re not sure, speak to your pharmacist to get more information.
Know the early signs of heat stroke, dehydration, exhaustion, etc. and keep in touch with family, friends, and emergency contacts.
Early signs of heat-related illness can include disorientation, dry skin, excessive tiredness, headache, nausea, flushed face, high body temperature, rapid pulse, and confusion to name a few. If you notice any of these symptoms while or after being outdoors, notify someone as soon as possible. Keep a list of your contacts with you or your charged cell phone so that you can contact any friends or family and, if an emergency, emergency services.
As a caregiver…
You can help your loved one stay safe outdoors by checking in a couple of times a day, being aware of and looking for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, making sure that they have access to cool air if temperatures get extremely high, helping limit sun exposure, and making sure they are taking in enough fluids.
Summer brings with it so many opportunities to create lasting memories of outdoor fun with family and friends. By taking the proper precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, you will be better able to enjoy every moment together.
For more detailed information about outdoor safety found in this article, please visit the following websites: