The arrival of summer in Austin, Texas is an exciting time. It means getting outdoors and enjoying one’s favorite activities in the sunshine and warm weather. Though summer is often associated with a carefree attitude, it’s important for older adults to take some simple precautions to stay safe this time of year.
Read on to learn more about potential summertime risks, get safety tips and discover how senior living communities like Querencia prioritize the health of residents.
Summer Safety Risks for Older Adults
Summers in Texas get hot. Each year the area experiences numerous 100-degree days, and temperatures of 90+ degrees are commonplace. While this weather is preferred by many residents to bitter cold temperatures, the intense summer heat also poses serious safety risks for older adults.
These risks include:
- Dehydration. Higher temperatures mean the body loses water faster than normal. Symptoms of dehydration include dizziness, headache, weakness, muscle cramps, confusion and even fainting.
- Sunburn. In the summer sun, a sunburn can happen in just 10-15 minutes of direct exposure. In addition to hot and painful skin, sunburn increases the risk of deep wrinkles, discolored spots and even skin cancer.
- Heat stroke. When the body overheats and is unable to cool itself, heat stroke becomes a serious risk that can result in death. Heat stroke symptoms include confusion, slurred speech, seizures and loss of consciousness.
How to Stay Safe This Summer
Despite the dangers summer heat can present, it’s easy to stay safe with these simple preparations and precautions.
Adequate hydration is essential to helping your body cool down in high heat. When doing strenuous activities during the summer, you’ll need more water than the standard eight cups per day. If you’re feeling thirsty, that’s a sign your body has already started to become dehydrated. This is especially important for older adults to pay attention to as the sensation of thirst decreases with age. Keep plenty of water on hand when you’re outdoors, and also drink water before and after activities.
Avoid Extreme Heat
No matter your age, it’s important to lead an active lifestyle to stay in good health. However, when temperatures are soaring outside, sometimes the best thing you can do is stay in. Instead of going for a walk or gardening in the midday heat, adjust your schedule to do strenuous activities in the morning or evening when things cool down. With age, the body does not adjust as well to sudden temperature changes, so it’s important to avoid extreme temperatures whenever possible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than half of older adults protect their skin from the sun when outside for an hour or more on a warm, sunny day. Avoid being part of this statistic and wear a CDC-recommended, broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 30 or higher before going outside. If you will be in the sun for an extended time, reapply sunscreen every two hours.
Wear the Right Clothing
In addition to sunscreen, make clothing choices that offer protection from the sun as well. Though it seems counterintuitive to cover up more in the heat, long sleeves and long pants are among the best options to block harmful UV rays. Tightly woven, light fabrics are ideal as they block the sun and won’t overheat your body as much as heavy fabrics.
Take Time to Cool Down
Pushing your body past its limits in summertime heat has serious consequences. When you notice yourself getting hot, take the time to rest and cool down in a shady or air conditioned space. You can also aid your body by drinking chilled, non-alcoholic beverages or taking a cool shower or bath.
Understand Medication Interactions
Certain medications – including antibiotics, painkillers and cold and allergy medications – can make you more vulnerable to the sun and heat. They can increase the intensity of sunburns or lead to hives, rashes and rapid dehydration. If you’re taking any medications, ensure you understand the interactions and side effects that can occur from exposure to summertime conditions.
Summer Safety is a Priority at Querencia
If you or a loved one is considering retiring to a senior living community in Austin, Texas, make sure Querencia is on your list. Our expert team is dedicated to the health, wellness and safety of each resident. We’ll work to create a customized, holistic wellness plan that covers everything from medication management to healthy meals in our dining venues.
To learn more about what life at Querencia has to offer, don’t hesitate to contact us.