7 Health Concerns Seniors and Their Caregivers Should Watch for in the Summer

7 Health Concerns Seniors and Their Caregivers Should Watch for in the Summer


Summertime is the time to fling open the windows, soak up the sun’s warm rays and enjoy the green, fresh-smelling outdoors after months of enduring cold, snowy, dark days. For seniors, summer can be just as fun and relaxing as it is for younger folks–as long as they and their caregivers realize how easily heat and humidity can impact a senior’s health.

1. Heat Stress

Slower to feel and respond to temperature changes, seniors may not start perspiring until outside temperatures reach the high 80s. In addition, reduced functioning of sweat glands inhibits a senior’s ability to perspire freely and maintain normal body temperature. Signs of heat stress include: dizziness, rapid pulse, headache, fatigue, abdominal cramps and nausea.
Treating heat stress requires moving the overheated person to a cool environment, making them rest quietly and providing them with fresh water to drink as soon as possible.

2. High Blood Pressure

Increased heat places stress on the body, especially older bodies exhibiting a little wear and tear. Combining heat with seniors playing kickball with energetic grandchildren increases blood pressure as blood flow pushes forcefully against vessel walls. Seniors with systolic numbers above 140 have hypertension, even if the bottom number (diastolic) is below 99. Isolated systolic hypertension is common in seniors and typically increases with age, even when medication and a healthier lifestyle is implemented.

3. Dehydration

Reasons seniors tend to dehydrate sooner than younger people in the summer include water content in the body decreasing as we age, taking medications that tend to dehydrate seniors, incontinence and older kidney that may not retain water as efficiently as they once used to.
Symptoms of possible dehydration–nausea, dizziness, headache and blurry vision–occur when about two percent of the body’s normal water amount is lost.

4. Sunburn

Most seniors and their caregivers realize aging skin is thinner and highly susceptible to sunburn. However, on cloudy or partly cloudy days in the summer, the sun’s strong UV rays burn right through clouds, causing painful, itchy sunburns. Seniors should always wear a hat, 3/4 length sleeves or shade themselves with an umbrella when venturing out, even on overcast days.

5. Athlete’s Foot

Overexposing feet to moisture and heat without relief can incite a case of itchy, burning, peeling-and-cracking skin athlete’s feet. Although this fungal infection isn’t usually a serious health issue for seniors, it can make summer miserable for them. Seniors can help prevent athlete’s foot by wearing cotton socks, frequently changing socks, applying cornstarch powder to their feet before putting on a pair of socks and shoes and going barefoot at home.

6. Breathing Difficulties

When the humidity is high, seniors with respiratory illnesses may experience more trouble breathing and cough frequently due to excessive mucus congestion. Seniors and their caregivers should be aware that while warmer air retains more moisture than cooler air, high summer humidity can exist when it is only 75 degrees and cloudy. In addition to checking the temperature before venturing out, seniors should also check the humidity and dew point levels.

7. Summer Colds and Influenza

Seniors tend to socialize, shop, travel and dine out more in the summer, making them susceptible to respiratory infections. Signs of a cold include: runny nose, nasal congestion, scratchy throat/coughing, itchy or burning sensation in your nose that makes you sneeze and low-grade temperature (if any).
Common flu symptoms include: rapid development of fever over 101 degrees, joint and body aches, runny nose/sneezing, feeling chilled, sore throat and overwhelming fatigue.
The CDC recommends seniors over 65 get their flu shot every year to avoid health complications arising from influenza.
To speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members about senior summer health concerns or our Sunshine Retirement Community, please click here today.

*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

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