Summer can be a fun season for people of all ages but it also presents a variety of health risks, especially for seniors. Family caregivers should make sure that they know what to look out for so that their loved ones will remain healthy during the summer months. We at Carefect Home Care Services would like to offer some information for family caregivers who need to know what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to summer health risks for seniors.
The first thing that family caregivers should watch out for is dehydration. During the summer months people are more likely to fall victim to dehydration because the warmer weather causes the body to lose more fluids than it would in cooler weather. Dehydration can be very dangerous because when the body does not have enough fluid it is unable to get blood to the organs which can lead to shock. Family caregivers should make sure that their loved ones are drinking enough water, especially if they live in extremely warm areas or participate in any type of exercise. Dry mouth, cramps, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and a red face are some of the signs of dehydration that family caregivers should look for if they believe that their loved one is suffering from dehydration. If dehydration is caught early enough, family caregivers can provide their loved ones with fluids that will replace their lost fluids and electrolytes and keep them from having to go to the hospital. While seniors are out in the sun it is also important to make sure they are wearing some type of sun screen so that they will not get sunburned. Those with very sensitive skin can also consider wearing a long sleeved shirt that is light weight as well as sunglasses and a hat or visor so that they will have some extra protection from the sun.
Heat Exhaustion, Humidity and Heat Cramps
Summer heat can cause a few other health concerns aside from just dehydration that family caregivers should be aware of such as heat exhaustion and heat cramps. Heat exhaustion can stem from dehydration as heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself off. Those who are dehydrated will experience problems with cooling off since their body will not have enough fluid available to produce sweat to cool the body off. Humidity can also cause heat exhaustion because the body cools off when sweat is produced and evaporates. Humidity makes sweat evaporate more slowly which makes it hard to cool off because the sweat is not evaporating off of the skin quickly enough. Slow evaporation of sweat can also cause a heat rash which can be very irritating, so seniors who are having trouble cooling off should try to find a cool or shaded area so that the sweat on their body can have a chance to evaporate.
Heat cramps can also be caused by dehydration because they commonly occur when the body is not getting enough fluids. Heat cramps can be very painful and can last longer than other cramps, so it is important to make sure that seniors get enough fluids, especially if they are exercising. Ignoring symptoms of heat related issues such as dehydration or heat exhaustion can cause fainting, heat stroke and heat edema which causes the legs and hands to swell as the blood vessels dilate and fluids move to those areas. Family caregivers should make sure that they monitor their loved ones to prevent more serious conditions from appearing.
Insect bites are also a concern during the summer months as spending more time outdoors means that seniors will be exposed to insects more often and will be more likely to get bitten without the proper protection. Insect bites are often very irritating because they cause the skin to be red and itchy, but many insects also carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. The best way to avoid insect bites is by applying insect repellent before going outside. If the weather is not too hot, such as in the evening when it cools down some, seniors can also wear a light weight shirt and long pants and either apply the repellent to their skin or to their clothing so that the insects will not bite them. Most insect bites will cause a small rash or bump that itches and will go away in a few days, but more serious symptoms are dizziness, nausea, chest pains, a rash that worsens over time and difficulty breathing. Seniors who experience more serious symptoms should visit the hospital as quickly as possible.
Summer health risks can be easily avoided in most cases as long as family caregivers monitor their loved ones and make sure that they are protected from heat, insects and the sun’s UV rays. Following the tips in this article is a good way to make sure that your loved ones enjoy their summer and remain healthy.
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