After experiencing the world’s hottest day on record, it’s clear we’re in for more sweltering summer weather. These warmer months can be especially dangerous for seniors. North Carolina Always Best Care franchisee Samantha Loy gave McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse some tips to make sure the dog days don’t bite older adults.

Proper hydration is not an option

Up to 60% of the human body is composed of water, it is a fundamental building block of our being. That is why it is so important to not only drink water when we are thirsty but to also do so when we are not. 

“We want to make sure that we’re pushing to take a few sips here and there,” Loy said. “Even if you don’t feel thirsty here, just take a sip. If we’re gonna go for a walk, let’s bring a water bottle with us. We’re trying to eliminate that alcohol and caffeine intake because that’s just gonna make us more dehydrated as well. If they don’t want to drink the water, try eating some foods that are high in water content.”

How do you know if someone is dehydrated? According to Loy, some telltale signs included dizziness/lightheadedness, dark-colored urine, confusion and irritability among others. Loy also notes that geographic location and other social determinants of health (SDOH) can exacerbate existing medical conditions. 

“Being in the South, it gets really hot and humid here,” she said. “We have those older adults that have chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders … If they don’t have the funds to be able to get healthy foods and proper nutrition or suitable housing, they can definitely be the most vulnerable.”

Get outside

Another challenge facing seniors during the summer months is increased isolation. Loy suggests including seniors in a variety of activities. 

“[During] the summer months, there’s more things to do,” Loy said. “If we’re staying hydrated, you could do your gardening. there’s outdoor concerts and things like that during the summer. There are more social gatherings in the summer and people getting together more. I feel like things brighten up as opposed to being dark when you’re in the winter months.”

Loy also recommends older adults check out local senior center offerings for interaction with peers. If they are nearby, families should also make an effort to include their loved one in as many outings as possible.  

Stay on your toes

Summer can bring its own falls risks. Even though everyone may have flip-flops on, seniors should wear appropriate footwear to avoid a tumble as well as using handrails when walking up or down stairs. 

“They see the weather getting better and they want to go outside and do things outside,” Loy said. “They may go and try and take their trash to the curb. So I think an increase in falls is a big one that we see a lot that can go hand in hand with being hydrated as well.”

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