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Beat the Heat: Important Health Information for Seniors in the Summer

The increase in heat, sun exposure, and time spent outdoors that comes with the summer months carries health risks for everyone, but these risks can be especially dangerous for seniors. 

Dehydration

Dehydration is a common health risk for seniors in the summer.  Not only should seniors increase their water intake during the summer, but they should also decrease their consumption of alcohol and caffeinated drinks.  Even when they do not feel thirsty, seniors should drink eight glasses of water per day.  This is especially important because as we age, we do not perceive thirst as well. Seniors tend to suffer from dehydration simply because they do not realize that they are thirsty.

Sun Exposure

Another common health risk for seniors in the summer is heat stroke.  Seniors are highly encouraged to stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day.  If outside, seniors should wear sunscreen and protective, light-colored clothing, should remain in the shade when possible, drink plenty of water, and take frequent breaks from activity.

Medications

Often overlooked are the health risks created by medications in the summer.  Certain medications can increase fluid and electrolyte loss as well as increase sensitivity to the sun.  Seniors should consult their pharmacists for potential summer-related side effects of their medications.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is especially common in the summer because food, especially dairy products and mayonnaise, is left out in the heat for too long.  Seniors are particularly susceptible to food poisoning and should be careful at picnics, cookouts, and other gatherings where food is left out in the heat.

Outdoor Activities

Bug bites, a commonality every summer, can be worse for senior citizens due to the diseases bugs can carry.  For example, mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus can cause serious neurological illnesses for seniors.  Seniors should use a bug repellant and wear proper clothing when hiking or participating in other outdoor activities. 

Swimming pools also present health risks for seniors.  Physical exhaustion from swimming as well as the possibility for social diseases, parasites, and bacteria are all prevalent risks in the summer.  Seniors should shower before and after swimming to avoid diseases and take frequent breaks to prevent exhaustion.

Summer can still be an enjoyable season for senior citizens but extra precautions are necessary to avoid serious health risks and to beat the heat.

DISCLAIMER:  Senior Helpers does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  This article is presented for informational purposes only.  Depression is a serious condition.  Consult your doctor for more information.




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