Most people associate fun and happiness when it comes to summer picnics, but did you know that picnics might actually be dangerous for some seniors? Of course, the picnics themselves are not the problem, but certain conditions in the environment surrounding a summer picnic can have a negative effect on the health and wellness of elderly people.
Family caregivers should pay attention to the risks associated with the outdoors when it comes to elderly care. With proper precautions, there’s absolutely no reason that seniors should avoid any picnic, outdoor event or family gathering.
- Sunburn can be very serious in seniors because it can affect them worse than in younger adults. Aging skin is thin and doesn’t heal as quickly, so when it gets sunburned, it can take longer to restore and is more susceptible to infection. Seniors should always wear sunscreen outdoors and reapply it every few hours. The more shade that elderly people can get when outside, the better.
- Heatstroke and heat exhaustion happens when an elderly person’s body is not able to thermoregulate properly and can lead to a serious health condition. Seniors should definitely be watched carefully during any outdoor excursion to make sure they aren’t suffering because the typical symptoms (lack of sweating, dizziness, headaches, mental confusion and unconsciousness) may not be so obvious in the elderly.
- Insects can turn a picnic from fun to frustrating and seniors may be the ones that suffer most. Ticks, biting ants, bees and wasps can inflict pain and even diseases on humans of any age. However, seniors are often in a more difficult position as their bodies are not as effective at healing bites or stings or withstanding illnesses from carrying insects.
- Bacteria can grow quickly in picnic food that is not properly stored. Because of the outdoor conditions, food is usually served up and left out, but this can cause a lot of problems in the form of food poisoning. Perishable food should be stored in a cooler when not being served to stop the growth of bacteria. If seniors get food poisoning, often their symptoms are more severe than in other adults.
- Dehydration is a real concern for seniors that are spending a lot of time outdoors, so family caregivers should make sure they have access to drinking water at all times. Encourage a senior loved one to drink a lot of water before and during the picnic to stay hydrated.
- Slip and fall accidents are more common when seniors are on terrain that is more uneven. Grassy parks can hide divots and hidden objects, while broken sidewalks can trip up elderly people out for a stroll. When seniors are out and about during a picnic, they need to be extra aware of their balance and may require assistance in getting around to stop them from falling.
Summer holidays and family gatherings mean that there are plenty of picnics on the horizon, and seniors should never be prevented from attending these important social events. As long as family members in charge of elderly care keep these hidden hazards at bay, their elderly loved one can enjoy the fun and festivities that picnics bring.
If you or a senior family member are considering elderly care in Ridgewood, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Caring Solutions Home Care LLC. In-home senior care servicing Bergen & Passaic Counties. Call today (973) 427-3553.
I started my career as an ICU nurse over 30 years ago. I have functioned as an educator and preceptor mentoring new nurses in the clinical arena. I have sat on many Patient Care committees authoring a variety of patient care protocols.
In 2007, I saw an opportunity to improve the delivery of patient care services in the home and founded Caring Solutions Home Care. Over the last 10 years I have functioned as the Director of Nursing overseeing all client care, administrative and personnel operations.