Summer brings with it a sense of growth and excitement. Flowers are blooming, grass is growing and the days become warmer and longer. However, as temperatures rise, the intense heat that the season brings can pose risks for many older adults.
Read on to learn more about potential health risks, and get tips for staying healthy this summer.
Common Summer Health Risks for Seniors
When warm summer weather arrives in Bloomington, you will want to make sure you’re prepared to make the most of it while being aware of the dangers.
These are some of the most common risks older adults face during extreme heat:
- Dehydration. As we age, the sensation of thirst decreases. This makes it easier for older adults to become dehydrated without ever noticing, especially when temperatures start to climb. Hallmark signs of dehydration include headache, weakness, muscle cramps, feeling faint, confusion and loss of consciousness.
- Sunburn. Another change with age is that skin becomes more delicate. Unfortunately, that means a higher risk of painful sunburns. Just 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure can be all it takes for a burn to set in. Beyond the immediate impacts, sunburn can lead to deep wrinkles, discoloration of the skin and even melanoma.
- Heat stroke. The most serious summer health risk for seniors is heat stroke. It occurs when the body is overheated and can’t cool down. A person suffering from heat stroke may have symptoms including confusion, slurred speech, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, seizures and loss of consciousness. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can be fatal.
Tips to Stay Healthy this Summer
Drink Plenty of Water
With a reduced sense of thirst, dehydration can sneak up on older adults. Once you start to feel thirsty, it means the body is already becoming dehydrated. Fortunately, this can be avoided by drinking the recommended eight cups of water per day, plus drinking water before, during and after activity. If you find it difficult to remember to drink enough water, consider carrying a reusable water bottle and plan to finish it throughout the day.
Eat Fresh Foods
One of the best things about summer is the bounty of fresh, local produce. Besides being delicious, a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer and have a positive effect on blood sugar. Some of the best options for seniors include leafy greens, blueberries, grapes, broccoli and apples.
Avoid Peak Heat
The beauty of retiring to an independent living community is you have time to do the activities you find most meaningful. During summer months, avoid strenuous activities and exercise when the heat is at its peak. Instead, go for walks or work in the garden during the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. This will reduce the risk of serious conditions like heat stroke and severe dehydration.
Protect Eyes and Skin
With age, certain parts of the body such as eyes and skin become more sensitive to sunlight. This makes it all the more important to protect them by using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wearing sunglasses whenever possible and choosing the right clothing. Long sleeves and long pants made of tightly woven, light fabrics are the best choice to block the sun while still being breathable for the body to cool down.
Do Activities Together
Maintaining friendships later in life plays a pivotal role in your overall well-being. Those with strong social ties often experience a boost in happiness and a reduction of stress. When you’re enjoying activities in the summer sun, having a companion join you can help keep both of you safe. Watch out for signs of heat stroke and other health risks. By identifying the signs early, you can avoid more serious complications in the long run.
How Friendship Village of Bloomington Promotes Healthy Aging
At Friendship Village of Bloomington, we’re committed to the holistic wellness of every resident. Our dedicated team will work with you or a loved one to craft a customized plan that helps reach personal health goals. Whether that’s enjoying fresh, chef-prepared meals in our dining venues or taking classes in our 17,000-square-foot fitness center, we’re here to offer support every step of the way.
If you’d like to learn more about the community at Friendship Village of Bloomington, contact us today to get the conversation started.