Now that summer’s here, we want to make sure everyone is staying safe. Sure, some people love the nice weather, but it’s essential to take a few precautions when stepping outside. When planning fun in the sun, it’s important to remember these tips to help older adults enjoy Michigan’s beautiful weather, safely.
Know the Signs of Heat Illness
First things first; it’s hard to know how to stay safe in the heat without knowing what signs to look for. Heat illness encompasses a wide range of conditions, including:
- Heat stroke
- Heat exhaustion
- Heat cramps
- Heat rash
Each of these conditions has its own set of warning signs. You can learn more about those signs and which actions to take by checking out this article from the CDC. When in doubt, contact a medical professional.
Prioritize Sun Safety
We’ve all heard how important sunscreen is, regardless of age. However, as we get older, our epidermis gets thinner, which means we can become far more sensitive to UV rays. Plus, if someone has regularly soaked up the sun throughout their life, they may be at a heightened risk to develop more complications with prolonged UV exposure.
Here are a few suggestions that may help protect older skin from the sun:
- Apply sunscreen regularly. Look for formulas that are made for sensitive skin.
- Wear clothing that covers areas that may otherwise see a lot of sun exposure. Just make sure the fabric is loose and breathable.
- Limit time outside, especially on sunny days.
- When in doubt, bring an umbrella! It can provide shade from the sun’s rays. Plus, it’s great to have if there’s a sudden rain shower.
Take It Easy
Michigan summers can be beautiful, but they can also be busy. That’s why it’s essential to plan days in advance with special attention to balancing strenuous and relaxing activities. Time should also be scheduled for breaks, even if that break is just to cool off in the car or sit on a park bench.
These moments of rest are great times to drink water, which can be packed ahead of time or purchased on the go. Since proper hydration can help prevent heat illness, this can be the difference between a safe day in the sun and a potentially dangerous situation.
Summer weather means thunderstorms, which can cause long-lasting power outages. As temperatures climb in houses without electricity, heat can build up quickly—especially for those who live on upper floors. The same can happen when decades-old air conditioning units simply decide they’ve had enough.
Here are some ways to prepare for faulty or inoperable equipment:
- Talk to us! If you’re a LifeCircles participant who is dealing with power, cooling, hydration, or similar troubles, reach out to our team. We can work with you to address these problems before they get worse. In some cases, the LifeCircles program can find resources that may cover the cost of cooling equipment.
- Contact the health department. Michigan residents who are utilizing public assistance programs (like food assistance, Medicaid, etc.) and are over 55 or have a medical note from their doctor may be eligible to receive up to $500 to purchase a window air conditioner unit. Contact your local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services county office for more info.
- Reach out to local organizations like the Community Access Line of the Lakeshore. Several nonprofits and local organizations offer temporary or long-term air conditioning units and fans. In fact, some community centers double as cooling shelters during the summer. Reach out to your local organizations or call 2-1-1 to learn more.
- If possible, invest in backup technology. If you have the funds, try investing in a battery or solar-powered fan or air conditioner. As long as they’re charged, these can provide much-needed temporary relief during a disaster.
- Community matters for older adults. Make connections with neighbors. When disaster strikes, it can be beneficial to have emergency contacts who live within a few miles. These people can provide assistance, do wellness checks, and may even provide transportation. If you don’t have a trusted person you can reach out to during an emergency, let us know. LifeCircles can make sure to get you in contact with someone who can help. Our clinical team is available 24/7 to members in our program in case of a health emergency.
- Remember to check in on your neighbors. If you know the power has gone out or if you haven’t heard from an elderly neighbor recently, check in on them. If you are unable, you can call your local law enforcement and ask for a wellness check. It’s possible that nothing is wrong, but it’s also possible that a simple call or knock on a door could save a life.
The summer can be a great time to make lasting memories with the ones we love. Still, it’s important to take appropriate precautions to make sure everyone is enjoying the season safely. The tips in this blog are general advice, so remember that everyone is different. We encourage you to reach out to a medical professional if you have any questions about how to keep yourself, a neighbor, or a loved one safe this summer.