Sun protection and proper hydration are key to keeping seniors safe in the summer sun and heat and decreasing their risk of dehydration or heat injury.
In the midst of summer, it’s important to know the basics of hydration and sun protection, especially for seniors. Due to age and underlying health conditions, seniors may be at an increased risk of overheating, dehydration, sunburn, or even heat stroke. Here are the basics of hydration and sun protection for seniors during the hot summer months.
A person’s sense of thirst naturally decreases as they age, putting seniors at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated—especially if they’re outside in hot, sunny weather. The body’s ability to conserve water stores may also be affected by certain medications or by the aging process itself.
As a general rule of thumb, seniors should aim for at least 64 ounces of non-caffeinated fluids per day, like water. Caffeinated drinks like soda, coffee, and strongly-brewed tea can actually have a diuretic effect, pulling fluids from the body and potentially increasing the risk of dehydration.
Sugary drinks like fruit juice or sugar-sweetened sodas are also not ideal because they’re loaded with sugar and calories, so water truly is the best option for quenching thirst.
If a senior will be spending time outside, they’ll need even more than 64 ounces of fluid per day to restore what’s lost through sweat. Aim for an additional 8 ounces of water for every 30-60 minutes spent in the sun.
Sun protection is an equally important consideration as hydration when it comes to spending time outdoors in the summer, especially for seniors. There are two key components: clothing and sunscreen.
Seniors who are going to be out in the sun or heat should wear cool, light-colored clothing that covers their skin. Linen is a lightweight, breathable material that is great for wearing outdoors. Ideally, if your senior loved one is going to be out in the sun for a while, they should wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, along with a hat.
However, long-sleeved shirts and long pants should only be worn in hot weather if they’re made from light-colored linen or similar materials, as other materials or darker colors can trap heat against the body.
In addition, sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin, including the face, ears, lips, hands, and feet if wearing sandals. Apply it 15 minutes before going outside.
Look for a water-resistant sunscreen that provides a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30-50 and reapply as needed—usually every hour or two.
Also, seniors should try to avoid being outdoors when the sun’s rays are the strongest—typically between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.
Managing and treating dehydration and overheating
If a senior starts to exhibit the signs or symptoms of dehydration, overheating, or heat stroke—such as dizziness, confusion, flushing, or fainting—then medical attention is needed.
Try to get them indoors as quickly as possible and provide them water to drink, as well as notify their doctor or—if symptoms are severe enough—emergency services.
At Tailored Home Care, we are aware of the importance of proper hydration and sun protection for seniors during the summer months, and we will do our part to make sure the seniors you love are well taken care of.