Keeping Safe in the Sun

Keeping Safe in the Sun

As the weather gets warmer, people are going to be spending more and more time outdoors enjoying the sun. While outdoor activities such as walking, swimming or gardening can be great ways to boost not just physical health but also social and community interactions, it’s also important to be aware of the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to direct sun and warmer temperatures, and to familiarize yourself with ways you can keep safe while enjoying the sunshine this spring.

Health risks
There are a variety of potential health risks specific to seniors that anybody looking to spend warm days outside should be aware of. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors are at a higher risk for heat-related medical emergencies due to a variety of factors, from preexisting chronic health conditions and weakened heat tolerance as a result of prescription medications.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University revealed that in addition to heat stroke, rising temperatures and exposure to direct sunlight can led to an increase in the prevalence of cardiopulmonary and respiratory ailments as well.

“All else being equal for the same time in summer, a day that’s 10 degrees hotter will tend to have 4.3 percent more hospitalizations,” lead researcher and study author G. Brooke Anderson told the Baltimore Sun.

In fact, research has uncovered that prolonged exposure to higher temperatures can have more indirect long-term effects on seniors, as the study reported on a determined but as-yet unclear link between hotter weather and heart disease. Hotter temperatures have even been linked to an increase in the number of kidney stones developing as a result of dehydration.

Keeping your cool
While awareness of heat-related health concerns is important, active seniors shouldn’t let rising temperatures deter or prevent them from enjoying the nicer weather. There is a wide array of preventative measures that can be taken on even the warmest of spring and summer days to keep seniors safe and sunny. The importance of sunscreen cannot be overstated, and supplementing a generous coating of high-SPF sunscreen with long sleeves for additional sun protection is not a bad idea – just make sure the long sleeves are lightweight.

Dehydration is one of the biggest things to watch out for in hot weather, but can be easily avoided by keeping hydrated. Keep yourself in the shade and out of direct sunlight during the days’ hottest hours, and make sure you drink plenty of water at regular intervals. By taking simple precautions, you can go a long way in maximizing your enjoyment of the outdoors while minimizing your risk of dehydration and related health concerns.