How Independent Living Helps Combat Springtime Health Risks for SeniorsMarch 15, 2016 | Chateau Brickyard
Seniors face unique challenges in the transition from a harsh Salt Lake winter to springtime. Independent living services, like those offered at Chateau Brickyard, can help your loved one to enjoy all that spring has to offer while being properly cared for during this lovely time of year. These are some of the seasonal senior health risks specific to our region and solutions that can help with the transition from winter to spring.
Daylight Savings Time & Trouble Sleeping
Daylight Savings Time (DST), the practice of advancing clocks forward one hour each spring, gives us the benefit of more daylight hours to enjoy. While beneficial in some regards, DST can also disrupt our circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep cycles. Senior health risks can increase at this time of year because seniors are more susceptible to changes in sleep patterns, which can result in exhaustion or other health issues. Healthcare professionals at independent living communities should monitor residents for the most common symptoms of sleep deprivation including daytime lethargy, change in regular/established sleeping patterns, inability to concentrate, mood changes, appetite changes, nausea, and upset stomach.
Senior health issues related to sleep can be solved relatively easily for residents of a senior living community, as staff are on hand to give advice and lend a helping hand. Hanging curtains to block out light and make the room darker, as well as adjusting the lighting, can help signal to the brain when it's time to sleep. Limiting alcohol and caffeine a few hours before bedtime, ceasing exercise or strenuous activities 3-4 hours before bed, and shutting off the TV/computer/tablet are other simple and effective solutions for better sleep. Furthermore, establishing a regular bedtime routine can be extremely helpful now and in the future when the clocks and seasons change again.
Slips and Falls
Independent living for seniors is a safe alternative to living alone. However, spring brings with it some unique safety risks for seniors, particularly those who enjoy being outdoors and exploring the beauty of our area. Melted snow in the mountains leads to large puddles, slippery roads, slick grass, and possible flooding. Slips and falls for seniors can be extremely dangerous, especially if they are already suffering from chronic conditions or are in poor health.
Educating our residents about potential dangers and arming them with safety tips is the greatest resource we have when it comes to seasonal well-being. Seniors should choose thick-soled shoes that provide traction, keep the feet dry and warm, and provide ankle support. We also advise that our residents use canes or walking sticks when venturing into the outdoors, as they provide stability and can be used to move low brush and rocks out of the way.
The plentiful sunshine and warmer weather is a boon for everyone in the Beehive State, but sun does come with health risks. One of the most important health tips for seniors during this time of year is to drink lots of water, because dehydration poses more serious risks for the elderly and individuals with health conditions. Signs of dehydration include thirst, headaches, low urine production, muscle cramps, and cool/dry skin. Dehydration becomes a medical emergency when a senior no longer urinates or only produces a small output, if the urine output is deep yellow in color, if the senior becomes dizzy or confused, or if his/her heartbeat rapidly increases.
Exposure to the sun, increased activity levels, and reactions to sunlight due to medications can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Signs of this condition include nausea, fast and shallow breathing, heavy sweating, exhaustion, headache, and dizziness. Other seasonal senior health risks in Salt Lake City, UT, due to sun exposure include skin damage, like a sunburn or melanoma, and eye damage that can lead to cataracts, macular degeneration, and keratitis (sunburn of the cornea).
While we encourage our residents at Chateau Brickyard to explore nature and bask in the warmth of spring, we also caution them to be safe and to protect themselves from harmful UV rays. We encourage our residents to drink plenty of water even before they are thirsty (as this is a sign that your body is already dehydrated).
We also recommend that residents wear wide-brimmed hats to protect their eyes and skin from the sun, wear sunglasses to protect against harmful UVA rays, and to wear lightweight clothing to prevent overheating. Liberally applying sunscreen is also a smart practice. What's more, new spray bottle sunscreens help seniors with limited mobility reach their arms legs and backs, so there's no excuse for skipping out on the SPF.
Taking a cool shower after a hot day in the sun feels good and helps to lower the body's core temperature. Furthermore, it can help to wash away pollen and ease allergies.
Spring is a wonderful time of year, especially in beautiful Salt Lake City. With a little preparation, knowledge, and some safety precautions, your loved one can fully enjoy the warmer weather and all of the fun activities it brings with it.
If you're interested in learning more about independent living for seniors at Chateau Brickyard, or would like to schedule a tour, please contact us today to discuss all that our community has to offer.
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