Fact Sheet: Summer Safety for Older Adults

For many people, summer is a time for warm, sunny days, outdoor activities like swimming, vacations and picnics with family and friends. However, summer can also bring extreme heat, increased risk of dehydration, foodborne illness and other health risks. Recognizing these risks and taking preventative steps will allow you to enjoy your summer without paying the price.

Heat-related Illness

Every year thousands of people suffer from heat-related conditions (hyperthermia) like heat stress, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year around 300 people in the U.S. die from excessive heat exposure. People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are not able to compensate for the heat and properly cool itself. Older adults are more susceptible as their bodies return to normal temperatures more slowly and their bodies’ cooling mechanism is not as efficient. Being overweight, having poor circulation, chronic medical conditions and high blood pressure or taking certain medications can also increase your risk. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain and vital organs.

Protect yourself with these prevention tips:

Summer Activities

As summer rolls around, outdoor and water activities are more common. These activities can range from swimming to gardening and can be both indoors and out. Research has shown that older adults who remain active during their golden years have less depression, loneliness and more control over their lives. To find activities in your area visit your local senior center, library or check your newspaper for local events.

Traveling

Whether traveling by car or plane to visit out-of-state family, RV-ing to a national park or touring another country - remember to use common sense, have a good time and follow a few safety tips.

Summer Food Safety

Many of us during the summer season head outdoors to enjoy picnics at the park or backyard barbeques. Along with the hamburgers and potato salad, don’t forget food safety. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 76 million people each year get sick by eating contaminated food. Foods contaminated by harmful bacteria and viruses can cause a foodborne illness (food poisoning) and older adults and children are considered most susceptible. Foodborne illness can occur within 24 hours of eating contaminated food, or even days or weeks later. Common symptoms of foodborne illness include: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. Food can become contaminated when we transport, store, prepare or serve it. It is important to use food safety techniques during every stage that we have contact with food.