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By Renea Dennison, Contributor
One of the highlights of summer is our annual celebration of Independence Day every July 4th. The holiday is good old-fashioned family fun, with food, parades, games and for the finale, beautiful and exciting fireworks.
When you are young and energetic, you hardly notice the heat and half-expect to get sunburned. Swimming in the lake or running through the sprinklers to keep cool is part of the fun. Adults expertly work at keeping the young safe from burns, etc. because we all know their limitations and work to avoid problems.
To no one’s surprise, seniors are not as energetic so will most likely skip the sprinklers. You might think since they are not running around heat is not a problem. This is not true. Seniors have more trouble regulating body temperatures and are therefore much more likely to succumb to heat stroke.
If you have a senior at your celebration, or if you are the senior, please make sure to keep the following practices in mind:
- Stay out of direct sun as much as possible. Sit somewhere cool and shady. Use sunscreen liberally and a wear hat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. The longer you are out, the more you should drink.
- Stay near a restroom for frequent bathroom breaks.
- Make sure chairs are cushioned and comfortable.
- Have a light jacket and/or blanket for after dark activities.
- If possible, have a cool and quiet place to retreat for brief periods of time such as indoors or inside a running air conditioned car.
Seniors, especially those with dementia issues, are not always aware of the danger they are in. If you have a senior with you, watch over them carefully. Do not push them past their limits. Remember, admitting you cannot keep up is a difficult thing to do.
You might also consider changing up some of your activities. For instance, during the hottest part of the day you might watch a patriotic themed movie. How about patriotic themed karaoke or sing-alongs? Many seniors also love to play board and card games. Go to a cemetery and place small flags on the graves of veterans. Seniors have many stories to tell about past glories and the history of the country. They’ve lived it! You might even film them talking about past celebrations or the moments in history that really impacted them.
There are many ways to safely enjoy the 4th of July this year. You do not have to let go of all the old ones, but safety involves keeping in mind the limitations of seniors as well as little ones. Follow the above guidelines for the safety of all concerned. Start some new traditions this year to add to your old ones to keep your seniors safe. After all, everyone, regardless of age, should be able to enjoy Independence Day. Be creative! Be safe! Happy 4th to you and yours!
Century Health Solutions is a subsidiary of Stormont Vail Health, Topeka and provides free Medicare Educational Seminars. We are your local expert in Medicare insurance planning and will help you find the best option for your personal situation. Call us at 785-270-4593 with questions or to sign up for a free seminar. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm.