There is an excitement in the air. The days are growing longer and warmer, the once bare trees are filled with blossoms and leaves, and the brown fields and hills are nearing an emerald green. As a family caregiver, you may be taking note about all the outdoor activities you and your aging parent can do together. These types of activities can certainly add a tremendous boost to older parents that have an increasing tendency to stay indoors. There are just a few precautions to be aware of as the weather warms.
As people age, their body loses its capacity to conserve water. The elderly can also become less sensitive to their own thirst. As a caregiver, be sure to keep a glass of water by your parent’s side and, if you go out to enjoy outdoor activities, always bring a bottle of water to help them, and yourself, stay hydrated.
Adjusting to varying temperatures—for instance going from an air conditioned room to the sweltering summer sun—can prove more difficult for an aging body, resulting in dizziness and confusion. Certain medications and chronic diseases disable the body from adapting to changing temperatures. To help this process, remain stationary with your parent after switching temperature extremes.
If you know your parent goes on walks or gardens during certain days, be sure, as their caregiver, to check in with them at the end of the day and recommend late afternoons or early mornings for outdoor activities. Suggest cotton or natural clothing material as compared to synthetic and make sure they have loose fitting clothes to wear out in the noon-day sun, should they choose to go there.
Eyes and Skin
Sun damage can occur to all eyes, but particularly the elderly’s. Check their sunglasses to make sure they protect against UV rays. Get a wide-brimmed summer hat that will offer shade and a new bottle of sunscreen to ensure that it is at its peak performance.
Knowing the signs of hyperthermia will help you feel secure that you can get the appropriate help for your parent should playing in the sun result in over-heating. Symptoms include muscle cramps, fatigue, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness and dry flushed skin. If you notice these symptoms, get immediate medical care for your loved one. Heat stroke is the stage after hyperthermia and is life threatening.
As the temperature spikes, your parent will not be able to exercise outdoors. Check out the local senior community center that offers a wealth of activities and classes as well as shared meals and social events. It’s a great place for seniors to exercise as well as engage. And make sure that you, as a family caregiver, are taking the time to take care of yourself. That includes taking time for the activities that you love, eating well and daily exercise. If you need help caring for your loved one, consider obtaining the services of a home care provider who can care for your loved one while you are caring for yourself.