Think of summer – think of outside play. We get to go hiking, swimming, boating, gardening, see movies at the beach, watch the stars at night while having a cool lemonade, and simply relaxing in the back yard. However, falling down is one of the major causes of injury and death for senior citizens. Walking/activities on uneven ground can certainly increase the risk of falls.
With this summer season upon us, let’s visit some fall prevention safety tips for seniors that focus on outdoor activities.
Below are some items to pay attention to that are more specific to summertime outdoor activities.
- Focus on heat related illnesses
- Watch for signs of heat exhaustion (i.e., increased sweating, headaches, shallow/fast breathing, muscle cramps, moist/cool and flushed face, and quick/shallow pulse)
- To treat heat exhaustion: cool the body slowly (i.e., place the person in the shade, offer half a glass of cool liquids slowly and not too much, use a cool/wet towel to soak the body
- Heat stroke can be identified by very high temperature (105+ degrees), hot skin, nausea, shallow breathing and possible confusion
- To treat heat stroke: cool the body by placing the person in a cool place (shaded area), use ice packs wrapped in towels to apply to the body, especially the wrists and ankles, call 911
- Heat cramps are muscular pain and spasms
- Limit physical activity, especially in extreme heat and humidity
- Stop all activity if any signs of dizziness begin
- Wear sunscreen at all times
- Wear loose fitting clothing
- Take frequent showers
- Use fans
- Stay in the shade as much as possible
- Stay out of hot, direct sunlight
- Wear oversized hats
- Wear approved UV sunglasses
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
- Be certain to bring in the mail every day (perpetrators pay attention to habits of people, especially vulnerable elderly folks)
- Have the yard cut regularly, even if you leave for vacation
- Keep toys, tools and equipment put in their proper places
- Store ladders in a secure manner
- Keep lawn and shrubbery trimmed neatly
- Make sure there is adequate lighting (i.e., walkways, outside house lighting, etc.)\Place railings on all step areas, even if the step is seemingly safe
- Make sure to stay in touch with your elders during the summer months. There are too many heat related deaths in summer that could be prevented by a simple phone call or a quick visit. Remember, children and elders do not handle the heat as well as others. It is our obligation to watch and protect our loved ones.
Have a great summer, but be safe!