Summer is in full swing in Southwest Florida, and with temperatures rising into the 90s, it’s an especially important time for seniors to be cautious, as exposure to extreme heat can lead to heat-related illness.  

Senior Choice at Home, a life plan at-home program for healthy, independent seniors who prefer to age in place, has compiled safety tips for Florida seniors for the 2024 summer season. Older adults should pay particular attention to summer safety, as their bodies are unable to regulate heat the way younger individuals’ bodies do. Even though you may enjoy the comfort of air conditioning inside your home this summer, it’s still important to consider how to stay safe and keep cool when the temperature rises outside.  

This summer is predicted to be one of the hottest ones yet, so break out your notepad and jot down these tips on how to remain safe, cool and happy when aging at home this summer. 

Stock up 

Hydration is key during the summer, especially when temperatures reach the high 80s and 90s. This may mean bringing a bottle of water with you on your daily walk or making sure to get a glass of water instead of soda when dining, but it’s also important to make sure that your home is stocked with the proper foods and drinks to keep yourself hydrated all summer long. With a stocked fridge, you’re prepared in case of an accident, like overheating when tending to your garden or taking a dip in the pool. 

Here are some items to stock up on during your next grocery run: 

  1. Bottled water if you prefer bottled water or don’t have access to readily filtered water. Senior men should drink 13 cups of fluids each day, while senior women should drink 9 cups per day. 
  2. Fruits and vegetables like watermelon and strawberries, which have a water content percentage of 92%, cantaloupe (90%), peaches (89%), oranges (88%), celery (95%) and tomatoes (94%). Fruits and veggies are a tasty way to rehydrate, and many fruits and vegetables with high water contents are in season during the summer, which means they’ll taste even better. 
  3. Sports drinks as an addition to water. Sports drinks improve hydration and contain electrolytes that are beneficial for seniors, especially those who exercise frequently. While they should not replace water, sports drinks are good to have on-hand to replenish nutrients lost when sweating, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. 

Pace yourself 

Take advantage of the sunny skies in smaller increments. Rather than tackling your garden or plucking weeds for hours, spread out your tasks throughout the day and take breaks indoors. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the sun’s rays are the strongest, so instead of going on a 30-minute walk at 11 a.m., opt for walks before 10 a.m. or in the early evening. The heat may tempt you to stray from exercising, but it’s still important to keep active. If you have a pool, try water aerobics or swim a few laps to keep your body moving, while also staying cool. As always, be sure to bring water with you while outside, and wear lightweight clothes.  

Yardwork and gardening present great benefits for seniors living at home. They encourage movement and keep seniors active, all while they care for what they’ve worked so hard for – their homes. If participating in these outdoor activities, take the proper steps to prevent skin cancer, sunburn and blisters. Utilize sunscreen and reapply it as needed. For seniors, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using SPF 30 or higher. 

Seniors are most at risk for heat-related illnesses, like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat syncope and more. These can be caused by several factors, including overexposure to the sun, cardiovascular, lung or kidney disease, some prescription medications, and dehydration. As summer ramps up, make sure that your air conditioning in your home works. Additionally, add a fan outside on your patio so you can enjoy the sun, while also having cool air blowing on you.  

With summer approaching, it’s important to take the right steps to prepare yourself and your home for the heat. With proper preparation, you can enjoy an active and safe summer.