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Summer Safety Tips for Seniors

After being cooped up in the house, seniors may be desperate for time outside in the sun. While very understandable, special care must be taken to keep safe and healthy.

Reliance Home Health Care reminds our families to remain proactive during summer months since older individuals’ bodies do not adjust as well to sudden increases in temperature which can affect lung function and blood pressure and even increase heart attack risk. Older individuals, especially those with chronic medical conditions, those who take certain medications or have other risk factors like living alone, can be affected by excessive heat and humidity.

Beating the Heat

We know that seniors are especially vulnerable when it comes to the health risks posed by summer heat. A study we recall by the Harvard School of Public Health reported that even seemingly miniscule changes in temperature can increase mortality risk in seniors and that this mortality risk was 1-2% higher for African Americans.

Recognize the signs of heat exhaustion which include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, paleness, headache and nausea. Body temperature can rise. Contrary to what you may think, dry skin in a very high temperature environment can actually indicate heat stroke. If someone, especially those with high blood pressure or cardiac problems, exhibits any of these symptoms, immediately seek medical attention.


  1. AVOID THE SUN: Stay out of direct sun exposure – going outside in the early morning or after the sun sets is best.

  2. STAY COOL: Comfortable air conditioning is your best friend. Cool washcloths on the neck, wrist and armpits can feel great. A tepid bath or shower can also help you cool down.

  3. STAY HYRDATED: Drink plenty of water and non-caffeinated liquids. Older adults may actually feel less thirsty than younger individuals. They should consciously be encouraged to drink to avoid dehydration. Alcoholic beverages and caffeine can actually make you lose water by causing you to urinate more often.

  4. PROTECT THE EYES: Older eyes are more susceptible to vision loss, so protecting eyes from dangerous UV rays with sun glasses is important.

  5. PROTECT YOUR BODY AND SKIN: Burgers in the back yard can expose individuals to mosquitos carrying diseases like West Nile. Bug repellant should be employed. If there’s a chance of sun exposure, remember that certain prescription medicines can make skin more sensitive to sun. Look for broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher.

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