Summer is here, and good times are upon us. Savory barbeques, tennis, outdoor outings, nature walks and a medley of other warm-weather revelries are now avaialbe to gratify our senses.
Still, it is important to guard against certain hazards during the lazy, hazy days of summer. Therefore, here are some thoughts to keep in mind:
- Stay hydrated. Water is essential no matter what time of the year. However, when the weather becomes warm our bodies tend to need more of this life-sustaining liquid because of the increased perspiration we experience. If we do not sufficiently replace what is being lost, we can become dehydrated. As many of us know, dehydration is quite serious because it negatively affects our cells and organs. Consequently, be sure to drink ample amounts of water or other appropriate liquids throughout the day. What is suitable besides water? Your doctor might suggest drinks that contain electrolytes, like Pedialyte. Some caffeinated and alcoholic beverages may seem refreshing but are not recommended in higher temperatures because they accelerate fluid loss. Seniors and people taking certain medications are particularly at risk for dehydration. Subsequently, always take precautions.
- Wear sunscreen. Unprotected sun exposure in very small measures can be beneficial because of the Vitamin D dose the sun provides. Nevertheless, if you plan to be outdoors for longer than 10 to 15 minutes, then you should use a water-resistant sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above. At the same time, make sure the product you choose shields against both UVA and UVB rays. Where should you apply the product? On facial skin, hands, arms, legs, bald spots, and any other area exposed to the sun. Sunscreen helps to stave off dangerous skin diseases, like melanoma, and that undoubtedly is a good thing.
- Dress properly.Choosing the right clothing in elevated temperatures is very important. Heavier fabrics make it difficult for the warmth to escape from our bodies and can cause us to feel overheated. On the other hand, airy clothing, like lightweight cotton, helps the body to feel more regulated. Moreover, light colors are preferred over dark because they better reflect the heat: dark colors attract the heat. And, a wide-brim hat and sun umbrella are wise if you will be out in the sun for protracted periods. These items work to shelter the face and help protect against dangerous heat situations, like sunstroke.
- Apply insect spray. Bloodsucking insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, are prevalent in the Northeast during the warmer months. Mosquitoes can transmit diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Babesia, and Bartonella. What can you do short of staying indoors? Apply an insect repellant. There are natural sprays available, but stronger products may be needed when attempting to keep ticks away. In addition to using a bug spray, defy the rules of logic when walking in grassy or wooded areas and wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks: a blood meal becomes substantially more difficult to find when human skin is covered. Unfortunately, mosquito and tick-borne illnesses are a menace, and they can be especially debilitating for seniors.
Summer is exceptionally pleasurable for New Englanders because our warm-weather window is narrow. Nonetheless, seniors can be vulnerable to some of the more negative consequences this coveted season can bestow. Therefore, be sure to prepare (and enjoy!).
Ross Capobianco is president of Home Instead Senior Care — a provider of home care services to seniors living north of Boston. He can be reached at 781-662-2273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.