Summer is finally here! Family picnics, walks in the park, lounging by the pool, s’mores by campfire… And bringing Grandma along can create wonderful memories.
However, as much fun as it all is, you’ll want to protect grandparents from the less fun parts of the season. Yes, they may be perfectly capable of caring for themselves, but they may not want to bother you if they’re getting uncomfortable. And if they suffer from dementia, they may not even realize what they need at the moment.
Need ideas on how to plan a safe event that they can attend? Check out our earlier post on Enjoying the Party without Ruining the Rest of the Week. (It’s written for Christmas, but the ideas count all year.)
For hints specific to summer issues, read on…
Frontida Senior Living Communities, including our Germantown Assisted Living Facility, provide you with posts like this one to help you live your best life.
#1 Screaming for Ice Cream is Great—Screaming from Sunburn? Not So Much.
The warm sun feels delicious after all those months of winter. But Grandma’s skin may be more sensitive than yours, especially if she hasn’t had much time in the sun lately.
As we age, our skin gets thinner. We bruise easier, get cold quicker, and, yes, burn faster. In the time you might get a little pink, Grandma could be dealing with a serious scorching.
- Give her sunglasses to protect her eyes. (They sell some great clip-on ones that can go right over her own glasses.)
- Help her apply a good sunscreen.
- Encourage her to wear a hat to protect the top of her scalp, especially if her hair is thinning.
- Set up a large sun umbrella so she can take shade wherever she sits.
You don’t have to go crazy here. Some sun is healthy. She needs a good dose to help her body create Vitamin D which combats depression.
But she doesn’t need so much that she burns. A bad sunburn can cause blisters, infection, fever, poor sleep, and dehydration.
Which brings us to our next tip…
#2 Water, Water Everywhere? Be Sure There’s Some to Drink
Pools, beaches, sprinklers, lakes—with so many summer activities involving water, it’s hard to believe dehydration could be such a big problem.
But remember, water outside doesn’t equal water inside.
Grandpa needs to keep sipping.
- feels dizzy, unbalanced, confused,
- suddenly has a headache, sees spots, or
- struggles with bladder infection symptoms,
Dehydration could be the culprit.
Give him a water bottle that’s easy to drink out of and easy to hold. One that’s easy for you to fill regularly.
Encourage him not to gulp the water down which could cause choking—and more urgent trips to the bathroom. Instead, slow and steady drinking should keep his body hydrated at just the right levels.
Drinking water can also help with the next problem.
#3 When It’s Too Hot to Trot
Catching rays can feel sublime. But as the temperature rises, it can actually heat Grandma’s body temperature, causing heat exhaustion—or even heat stroke.
The signs? Some are similar to dehydration: dizziness, confusion, headaches, …
And the ways to help will probably look familiar:
- Drink water to help lower her temperature.
- Wear a hat to keep direct heat from her head, face, and neck.
- Wear light-colored cotton clothing that’s loose and breathable. (Dark clothing absorbs heat making her hotter.)
- Find shade and a light breeze—or have the grandkids fan her. (That will prove she’s a queen. *wink*)
- If the humidity or dew point are high, she may just want to stay inside.
On the other hand, some restaurants and stores are so averse to heat that they recreate winter indoors. (I swear I can see my breath in some of these air-conditioned buildings.)
- So Grandma may need a sweater to be comfortable when she escapes from the heat. Yes, I know, crazy!
But temperature, lack of water, and burns aren’t the only pesky things to look out for on summer days.
#4 ’Cause No One Really Wants a Bee in Her Bonnet
Bugs are a natural part of summer. But if possible, it’s easier if Grandpa doesn’t have to deal with them.
- Insects can carry diseases like West Nile Virus
- Ticks can carry Lyme’s
- and Bee stings just plain hurt.
With Grandpa’s immunities often being lower, that makes him more susceptible to problems with each bug bite. He could get the disease. Or the sting could get infected.
- Use bug-spray that contains DEET
- Avoid standing water and heavy perfumes
- Fly swatters—don’t leave home without them
- Grab a bug zapper, a decidedly gratifying invention
- and Be pro-active in getting rid of bee nests—they can cross-pollinate somewhere else this year
So, you’ve done a great job of protecting everyone all day, but no one wants to go home yet?
#5 When the Sun Goes Down
Nothing says summer like a campfire. Break out the marshmallows and chocolate.
But before you ask the grands to point out the Little Dipper, make sure you have a few things on hand for them.
- The ground is probably uneven, and sticks and frisbees get forgotten in the dark, so make sure you have flashlights to brighten the path when they need to move.
- Be ready with a steady arm to support them if they want to roast their own s’mores.
- And as the sun sets, so will the temperature. Bring a sweater or blanket to ward off the night chill.
Summertime and the Livin’ Is Easy
The long days of summer are so sweet, especially if you get to spend them with Grandma and Grandpa.
With just a few steps, you can keep them safe so the less attractive parts of the season won’t hamper the fun. If you’re planning a roadtrip, be sure to check out these Important Tips for Traveling with Grandparents.
Staying active as a senior is important. What’s your favorite thing to do with them during the summer? Let us know on Facebook.
Struggling to keep your grandparents safe in other areas? Frontida Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities can help.
Check out these other helpful posts on keeping seniors physically healthy.
Elizabeth Daghfal is a writer, teacher, speaker, and community volunteer. When she isn't teaching or writing-- Who are we kidding? Her husband and five kids say she's ALWAYS teaching and writing. She has a passion to help people who are struggling and is happy to say her shoulders are drip-dry. Born and raised in the South, she now lives in Wisconsin and loves it--except for the fifteen months of winter. Read more about her at elizabethdaghfal.com.