The summer months are a time for fun and relaxation—getting outside, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the natural beauty all around us. As we spend time outdoors this season, it’s important to take precautions to protect ourselves against the heat and sun.
Prolonged exposure to heat and sun can lead to sunburns, skin cancer, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. For older adults, these conditions can be even more dangerous. Consider the tips listed below before heading out for a day in the sun.
- Stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you especially if you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time. Drinking six to eight glasses of water per day is recommended for adults.
- Apply sunscreen regularly. Use a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and reapply every two hours. Wearing a thin long-sleeve shirt and a hat can further help keep the skin protected.
- Don’t forget to protect your eyes and lips. These two areas can easily be overlooked after applying sunscreen and dressing properly. Look for a lip balm with SPF and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Be smart when exercising. It’s important to maintain your exercise routine when the weather warms up, but avoid strenuous activity outside, especially in the hottest time of the day. Take frequent breaks, drink plenty of water, and stay in the shade as much as you can.
- Know the warning signs of heat-related conditions. Heat stroke can cause flushed skin, nausea and vomiting, headache, and fainting. Tell someone as soon as you notice any of these symptoms and quickly get out of the heat.
Following these simple precautions can keep you happy and healthy all summer long.
You’re never too old to learn something new. These days, learning a new skill and keeping the brain active has never been easier for older adults. A study by the Rush Memory and Aging Project showed that seniors who are cognitively active were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia than those who did not exercise their brains.
In addition to stimulating the brain and helping to enhance intellectual wellness, these pursuits are often social endeavors that can provide as sense of involvement and belonging in the community as well as helping to avoid feelings of isolation.
There are many excuses that might keep someone from learning something new: it’s not worth the effort, it’s too expensive, I’d have no way of getting there, among others. But educational opportunities are more abundant than you might realize, both in your community and in the digital world.
- Libraries, senior centers, and local retirement communities likely offer courses or seminars—and often at no charge. These offerings may be held in partnership with local colleges and provide a more convenient way to access an in-depth look at a favorite or new subject.
- Local colleges and universities may offer the opportunity for waived tuition or scholarships for older adults pursuing either credit or non-credit courses.
- Auditing a course provides the social and intellectual benefits without the stress of exams, homework, and high costs.
- Online courses are convenient for getting access to information without having to leave your home. And they can still provide the social benefits of an in-person class through online discussions.
Growing our minds and learning something new doesn’t have to end with retirement. Find what interests you and pursue greater knowledge!
Our five senses—hearing, sight, taste, smell, and touch—connect us to others and the world around us, allowing us to experience things in a number of ways. It’s easy to take our senses for granted, until one or more of them start to diminish.
A decline in one or all of our senses is a natural effect of aging. Health and environmental factors can also facilitate sensory deterioration. Long-time smokers may experience reduced taste and smell sensitivities, while people living with diabetes may have issues with vision.
While sensory changes can be frustrating, acceptance and a positive attitude can help make the changes more manageable. With patience, you can often learn to compensate for the diminished sense with others, while adaptive devices can also provide assistance.
- Hearing is often considered our most social sense—and can lead to withdrawal and isolation as people become more and more hesitant to interact with others. Misunderstanding others can also lead to paranoia and disagreements. Avoid shouting, speak face-to-face, and eliminate background noise when speaking with someone who has hearing loss.
- Vision loss can lead to problems with mobility, poor orientation, and even hallucinations. It may keep people from moving around and getting outside, and also lead to isolation. Many low vision aids can help with adapting to this change. Regular eye exams ensure the most up-to-date assistance.
- A diminished sense of touch affects both the ability to distinguish between different objects and textures, but also to detect pain. Older adults are less likely to perceive internal pain or rising temperatures. They may also miss out on the therapeutic benefits of another person’s touch.
- Changes in taste and smell often go hand in hand for those over the age of 50, and can cause food to become unappealing. A loss of smell can also create consequences with safety and personal hygiene. Find ways to enhance the flavor of foods without salt, add textures, and follow good oral hygiene to help retain smelling and tasting abilities.
If you notice changes in a loved one, bring it up in a tactful way. Avoid making someone feel inadequate and instead focus on finding ways to help them adapt and remain successful.