How to Stay Safe and Have Fun This Summer
Summer can be a ball of fun. Gone are the biting days of winter and ice-slicked sidewalks, replaced by warm air and fun outdoor activities. But amidst the vacations and trips to the beach, there are also inherent risks that come along with the summer sun and heat. In this quick guide, we’ll teach you how to have fun this summer without risking your health in the process.
Senior Citizens and Summer Sun Risks
When it comes to having fun in the sun, senior citizens need to be more aware of their actions than younger generations. Many risks from the sun become more acute as you age. For example, the Skin Cancer Foundation says that nearly fifty percent of adults aged sixty-five and up have at least one form of skin cancer.
As you age, your body also has a harder time regulating your temperature. This means that you can become overheated more quickly because your body lacks the ability to keep itself cool. Certain medications can make dehydration a greater risk for seniors than for younger generations. Even your eyes begin to break down as you age, making it easier for you to get cataracts and other complications from UV ray exposure.
How to Avoid Major Summer Health Risks Without Avoiding Summer
We’re all about encouraging people to live their best, most adventurous lives. So we’d be the last people on the planet to tell you that you need to spend your summer hiding away indoors. Instead, we’d like to give you some practical tips that you can use to enjoy summer, wherever your adventures may take you.
Tip #1: Drink Lots of Water
The National Academy of Medicine recommends that men drink 125 ounces of water per day, while women should drink 90 ounces of water per day. However, those needs increase if you’re active, spending a lot of time outside, or taking medications that dehydrate your body.
Drinking more water can be difficult. One of the best things you can do to increase your fluid intake is keep a reusable water bottle on hand. Many mobility scooters come with built-in cup holders, But you can also get cup holders to accessorize your existing scooter so that you can keep water on hand throughout the course of the day.
Try setting goals to drink a certain amount of water each day. Other tips to drink more water include:
- Drinking a glass of water with each meal
- Replacing one non-water beverage each day with water
- Try using water flavorings to make water more palatable
Tip #2: Wear Sunglasses with UV Protection
UV rays don’t just affect your skin. The sun’s rays can also cause irreparable damage to your eyes, leading to long-term conditions including cataracts and macular degeneration.
Not all sunglasses are equally able to protect your eyes from the damaging rays of the sun. While sunglasses with polarized lenses can reduce glare and make it easier to see in the sun, only sunglasses marked as offering UV400 protection can truly protect your eyesight in the summer. UV400 protection blocks nearly 100% of UVA and UVB rays from entering your eyes.
Tip #3: Use Shade When Possible
Whether it means taking an umbrella with you to the beach or bringing a cart with you golfing so you have a place to sit between rounds, using shade can allow you to be outside while avoiding the harshest of the sun’s rays.
Although you should still wear sunblock when you’re going to be outside, staying in the shade can keep you cool and keep the majority of harmful UV rays away.
Tip #4: Apply Sunscreen Frequently
As you get older, your skin becomes thinner because it loses fat and water. This means that the sun can have even more of an effect on your skin as you age than it did when you were younger. When buying sunscreen, you should look for a bottle labeled as “broad spectrum” with an SPF between 15 and 50.
Experts recommend that you should reapply sunscreen at least once every two hours, especially if you’re swimming or working up a sweat. But the elderly may need to reapply sunscreen even more frequently to stay protected.
Keep in mind that the need for sunscreen has nothing to do with how bright it is outside. Even on a cloudy day, you should wear sunscreen on any part of your body that’s exposed, because clouds do not actually block UV rays.
Tip #5: Time Your Outings Intentionally
The sun’s rays are at their peak from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So, if you’re planning to spend time outdoors, the early morning or early evening hours are the best times to plan your excursions.
Consider a vacation with the family. You could do a beach trip in the morning, then walk through museums in the afternoon when the sun is the hottest. In the evening, you can head back outside for a sailboat ride of a round of golf.
Timing your outings this way allows you to enjoy all the activities you want to throughout the course of the summer while minimizing your risk of heat stroke or sun poisoning.
Tip #6: Listen to Your Body
Hyperthermia is a broad term that refers to a number of heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, rhabdomyolysis, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion. What all of these illnesses have in common, however, is that your body gives off some pretty noticeable signs that you’re getting sick.
Because people age 65 and up are especially at risk for hyperthermia, it’s extra-important that you listen to your body when you’re in the heat and take its cues seriously. Symptoms to watch out for, which may indicate that you’re overheating, include:
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling like your head is “foggy”
- Muscle cramps or pain
If your body starts to give these signs, it’s important that you immediately go inside to cool off and drink some water. If symptoms persist, call 911 for assistance. Hyperthermia can be deadly, and should not be taken lightly.
Tip #7: Be With Other People
Sometimes, symptoms of hyperthermia can creep up on you. The last thing you want is to be halfway to your destination when you start getting muscle cramps, or to be in the car alone when confusion and dizziness set in.
There’s strength in numbers. If something unexpected occurs, you want to be with people who can help you get back on your feet or who can call an ambulance if necessary. So if you’re going out with family or friends, stay with them throughout the course of the day. Don’t stay back in the car while your kids run into the store to get groceries, for example, or walk back to your hotel room alone while your friends lounge on the beach.
Tip #8: Rest When You Need To
In the summertime especially, it’s important not to push your body too hard. Don’t be afraid to stop and rest when your body starts getting hot or tired. Power scooters can be a great option if you want to enjoy the fast-paced, active lifestyle you’ve always enjoyed but your stamina isn’t what it used to be.
You can also try planning breaks into your day. Instead of planning a walking tour, for example, you could enjoy a bus tour. If you’re going to be spending the day at a festival, plan on a sit-down lunch instead of walking around and eating food from a booth. The more you can plan natural break points into your day, the less you’ll feel bogged down by your mobility and the more refreshed you’ll feel throughout the course of the summer.
Enjoy Many Summers to Come
By staying safe during the summer months, you can keep your summers enjoyable and keep your body healthy enough to continue fun summer activities for many years to come. So bring on the waves, the heat, and the adventure. Just don’t forget to care for your body while you’re taking on the world!
- Caitlin Carter