I just love the song Summer Time and I love listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing it. This is the perfect time of year to think about and enjoy all the wonderful things we love the most about summer: picnics, more time outdoors, and visits from relatives and friends from far away. However, the living isn’t always that easy when you are caring for older loved ones.
In the summer time it is important to remember to care for yourself and your elders. Our amazing summer sun puts us at risk for sunburn, heat stroke and dehydration. By taking just a few extra precautions, you can prevent a lot of problems that turn into care issues.
We have all heard about the benefits of using sunscreen but we often forget to slather on sunscreen for our older adults. It is important to note that many of the medications used by older adults put them at risk of sunburn, even for short periods of time in the sun. Many of us react to the ingredients in sunscreen so look for brands that have very few ingredients, yet have full exposure in the sun. Also remember to place sunscreen on before taking your parents or older relatives outside.
Many of us are spending more time outside and going on vacations, however, too much time spent outside can put us at risk of heat stroke. This is especially true if we exert energy while directly in the sun. Check in on active older adults and inquire if they are taking frequent breaks while outside gardening or working on other projects. Encourage them to work early in the morning and later in the day and take frequent breaks.
Finally, dehydration is a very real concern. Most of us need 1 -2 quarts of water a day to stay hydrated. These needs increase when the temperature rises due to moisture being released through our skin and more frequent trips to the restroom. Try thinking of creative solutions to hydrate those you love. Popsicles come in so many different flavors and can also be made at home as well as other cool sherbets and gelatos. Electrolyte replacement drinks and coconut waters are great alternatives to water. An Aging Life Care Manager can help you care for your older adults and ensure that they are staying dehydrated and out of urgent care this summer.
Try a few of these tips this summer and you will find that there ain’t nothin’ can harm you and the livin’ is easy!
Joyce Sjoberg, MA, RN, BSN, CMC
Aging Life Care Manager