Summertime in Wellesley. With so much to do, from cookouts to parades to festivals to outdoor activities and more, it’s the best time of year to get out and enjoy everything Massachusetts has to offer. But before you head out for fun in the sun, it’s important to take precautions.
“Seniors react to heat a little differently than their younger counterparts,” says Kristine Tilton, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley. “They may be taking medications that can be affected by the heat, or have health issues that are exacerbated with extreme temperatures. And as we age, our bodies naturally lose the ability to regulate body temperature quickly.”
Plus, she says, it’s a lot easier to become dehydrated as you age, and you may not even realize it. “Generally, if you’re thirsty, it means that you’re already dehydrated,” she says. “Seniors may not know that they’re thirsty, or may not be getting the signals for thirst, so it’s a lot easier to become dehydrated.”
Fortunately, with a little preparation, you can still do all the things you love. Here are some senior safety tips to help you stay cool this summer.
We’ve already mentioned that seniors can become dehydrated more easily due to the aging process. That means it’s more important than ever to get your daily dose of fluids. You’ll want to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day; more if you’re actively working out or sweating. Finding it hard to sip that much? Try these tips to help you stay hydrated:
- Keep a pitcher of water in your refrigerator or on ice on the countertop. Add slices of fruit or cucumbers to add a little bit of a zing.
- Carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go (and remember to sip from it from time to time).
- Avoid drinking too much caffeine and alcohol, as they are diuretics.
- If you find it hard to drink enough water, eat fruits and vegetables that are high in liquids like cucumbers, watermelon, celery, tomatoes and berries.
Besides dehydration, high temperatures are the biggest risks for seniors in the summertime. Make sure your air conditioner is in working order and that you have a fresh filter installed. You may also want to have a technician come out to service your unit if it’s not functioning as it should. If your home isn’t air conditioned, consider going somewhere that is during the day, such as a senior center, a friend’s house, a library or the mall.
Dress for the season.
Pack away your heavy materials and stock your closet with light-colored, flowing and breathable clothing. Choose natural fabrics like cotton or linen, which are lighter and wick away moisture more than man-made materials. While generally we don’t think of wearing long sleeves in the summer, doing so can actually be more cooling than going sleeveless – the fabric acts as a barrier between your skin and the sun’s rays, reducing your risk of sunburn (and skin cancer). Don’t forget about up top – wear a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outside, and invest in a good pair of sunglasses to preserve your vision.
Seniors are thin-skinned – literally. Our skin becomes more delicate as we get older, meaning we’re more prone to sunburns and skin cancers. Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go out in the sun, and reapply every two hours (more if you’re in the water or excessively sweating).
Talk to your doctor.
Check in with your physicians and other specialists to find out if any of your medications or health issues put you at risk in higher temperatures. You may be surprised – some medicines lose their efficacy if they’re stored at high heats. You may also want to speak to your doctor about options for staying cool or remaining safe during the summer months.
Stay out of the afternoon heat.
It’s still important to get exercise during the summer, but you’ll want to be aware of the best times of day to do so. Schedule outings and exercise sessions either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. That way, you’ll avoid the hottest part of the day – usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remember to drink more water than you think you’ll need – it’s hot out there.
Be on alert for signs of heat stroke.
Hyperthermia – a condition that occurs when the body experiences abnormally high temperatures – is a huge danger in the summertime. Colloquially known as “heat stroke,” this can become a life-threatening condition very quickly if left untreated. Signs of heat stroke include:
- A very high body temperature of 104 degrees or greater
- Confusion, disorientation or mood swings (severe symptom)
- Nausea and dizziness
- Excessive sweating
- Suddenly stopping sweating (severe symptom)
Heavy breathing and rapid pulse (severe symptom)
- Passing out or fainting (severe symptom)
If you notice yourself or anyone else experiencing these symptoms, get to a cool place immediately and try to cool the person down. Drink cool water, remove excess clothing, and use cool compresses to wipe down the skin. If the person doesn’t improve after resting, or if they are experiencing severe symptoms of heat stroke, call 911.
Spray away those bugs.
Older people are more susceptible to West Nile Virus, which is carried by mosquitos. If you’re going into a wooded area, or if you’re out and about at night, be sure to use bug spray liberally, or stock up on citronella candles. Consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants as well.
For more information about senior safety tips for summer, please contact us at 781.235.1614.
Beautiful Riverfront Community
Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.
Celebrating Dynamic Living
Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.
Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.
Confidence of Care
The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.
For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.235.1614.