Family Caregiving Tips for Summer
Summer is here, and it’s a wonderful time for family caregivers to create special memories with their loved ones. However, it also comes with unique challenges that require careful planning and attention. While pools and beaches may be off limits for some, there are plenty of opportunities for families to get together outdoors. In this blog post, we will detail key caregiving tips for summer so that you can make the most out of this memorable time of year. Let’s dive in!
Summer is synonymous with heat, and it’s crucial to maintain health and hygiene during this time. Staying hydrated is essential, especially for older adults who are more prone to dehydration. There are many creative ways to encourage frequent water intake. Make sure to purchase a refillable water bottle (perhaps in a fun, bright color!), and feel free to infuse the water with fruit or an electrolyte powder. To switch things up, you can occasionally offer Gatorade or coconut water (but only if a loved one can tolerate sugar). Hydration breaks should be scheduled, which can be done with a phone timer or app. Finally, caregivers must be on the lookout for signs of dehydration, including dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness and confusion.
Protect a loved one from the sun’s harmful rays by using suitable sunscreen products, as most skin cancer is found in individuals over age 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It’s also always a good idea to wear a hat for extra protection; consider one that also protects the neck and ears. If you want to take more steps toward sun protection, try purchasing clothing with UV protection, and sunglasses to protect eyes.
Dressing comfortably in light-colored, lightweight and breathable clothing can help prevent discomfort on a hot summer day. Stay away from dark colors that absorb sunlight and heat, and make people hotter. Fabrics like linen and cotton are breathable, but beware that cotton absorbs moisture and stays wet from sweat. Moisture-wicking clothing made from materials such as polyester, however, is recommended as it enables the sweat to evaporate from the outer layer of the clothing, keeping clothing dry in the heat. In addition to clothing, personal fans or neck fans can provide a cool breeze when needed.
Safety in the Sun
When venturing outdoors, take precautions to ensure safety. Falls are a major concern for older adults, especially when they are not familiar with an environment. Ensure that well-fitting footwear with good traction is worn, and consider using walking aids if necessary. When planning an excursion, do some research to make sure there are flat walking paths and plenty of benches or seating areas. Visiting parks, gardens, or having a picnic can be great experiences, but stay prepared for accidents by keeping a first aid kit handy, knowing basic first aid techniques and knowing nearby hospitals or urgent care centers.
July 4th for Caregivers
July 4th celebrations often include fireworks, which can be distressing for individuals with cognitive or sensory issues, and particularly for veterans who may have PTSD sensitivities. Fireworks can sometimes trigger distressing memories or reactions in those who have experienced combat. If fireworks are overwhelming to a loved one, especially if they are a veteran, consider alternative celebrations or activities such as organizing a family barbecue earlier in the day, or watching a fireworks display on television. If you do decide to attend a fireworks show, locate a safe viewing spot at a comfortable distance and follow safety precautions. Stay vigilant and ensure the well-being of your loved ones during these festivities. For more tips and resources on caring for a veteran, read “The Unique Challenges Facing Caregivers of Veterans.”
Self-care in the Summer Months
While caring for your loved ones, it’s crucial to not neglect your own well-being. Self-care is vital to maintain your physical and mental health. Take time for relaxation and stress management techniques. Engage in activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga to unwind and recharge. Seek support from friends, family, or caregiver support groups who can understand and provide guidance. Remember, by prioritizing your own self-care, you will be better equipped to provide the best care for your loved ones.
In conclusion, family caregivers play a vital role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable summer for their loved ones. By following these caregiving tips for summer, you can navigate the challenges of hot weather, outdoor activities, and even July 4th celebrations with confidence. Remember to prioritize self-care, seek support when needed, and savor the precious moments spent with your loved ones this summer. Stay safe, stay cool, take lots of photos, and enjoy the season!