Summer

Many seniors have found that working out in the water is an excellent way to improve their overall well-being, from providing various physical benefits to offering social time and a trip out of the house. The unique properties of water provide seniors with the opportunity to get relief from painful physical conditions such as arthritis and circulatory problems while deriving the benefits of low-impact exercise in an environment that minimizes the risk of injury.

Why Water?

Cardiovascular exercise and weight loss are common benefits of any aerobic exercise, but exercising while submerged in water provides some distinct advantages that set aquatic exercise apart from land-based activity. Age-related joint conditions like arthritis can be a painful impediment to a senior’s capability (and enthusiasm) for exercising. But water-based exercise puts significantly less stress on joints, allowing them to enjoy these activities for longer periods of time, and can also provide some relief from these chronic conditions. Swimming can also be relaxing and meditative, which may offer some stress relief, adding to its cardiovascular benefits.

Swimming Pool

The Physical Benefits of Water Exercise

Cardio: It doesn’t matter if a senior is water-jogging or swimming—using the water to get their heart rate up will increase aerobic capacity, burn fat, and decrease their risk for heart disease.

Balance: Reduced muscle tone and vision loss can affect senior coordination and increase their risk of falling. Aquatic exercise is a great way to help improve balance. Doing specific balance exercises in water helps build strength and coordination. Water provides the ideal environment for this type of exercise, safely allowing for a loss of balance since their water-induced buoyancy will prevent them from falling.

Strength: Working with water “barbells” or wrist bands can provide a great form of resistance training which helps build muscle strength and endurance without injury.

Work Out and Get Out

Socializing is an overlooked added benefit of many types of senior group activity, and aquatic exercise is a prime opportunity to get out of the isolation of the home and into a social environment—and in the case of outdoor pools, enjoying some sun (with sun protection, of course).

Studies have shown that the opportunity to socialize is one of the key reasons older adults will maintain a successful exercise program. Group exercise classes provide an ideal opportunity for conversation.

Whether that be an exercise class, individual standing exercises, or swimmers using kickboards to kick side-by-side, there are many opportunities in the pool to socialize.

Getting Started

If you haven’t been swimming in a while, start slowly. Try swimming laps for just five to ten minutes while coordinating your breathing, strokes, and kicking. A pair of well-fitting goggles is a must. A less strenuous option is just walking or running in the water. Water aerobics classes are offered at a variety of levels, and often specifically for seniors. Check out your local senior center, community center, or YMCA for their Summer offerings for seniors.

Article by Caren Parnes for The Senior’s Choice

It’s summertime! This season brings fun outdoor activities and beautiful — but hot — weather. Did you know the senior community is often more prone to the effects of heat and therefore at a greater risk for dehydration? Now is a good time to focus on helping our elderly loved ones stay safe, healthy, and hydrated through the elevated summer heat. 

Causes of dehydration

Dehydration happens when the body does not receive or retain the adequate amount of fluid needed to function properly. If not treated properly, dehydration can cause severe health issues. Common causes include:

  • Intense summer heat
  • Strenuous activity
  • Medications or diuretics 
  • Drinks which contain caffeine or alcohol
  • Illness which cause fever, vomiting, or diarrhea

What should you look for?

Common warning signs of dehydration may include the following: 

  • Thirst
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dry skin and/or poor skin elasticity
  • Not urinating frequently or dark urine

What you can do to help seniors stay hydrated?

  • Always check with a doctor to make sure your loved one is getting the right amount of fluids for their individual health needs.
  • Create a set fluid intake schedule. If necessary, set timers to help remind your loved one to drink fluids throughout the day. Try to decrease fluids that are high in caffeine or sugar. 
  • Offer sufficient fluids at every meal. This can also include fruits and vegetables with high water content such as watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers. 
  • Keep water within easy reach of chairs and beds.
  • Check urine to ensure it is light in color. 
  • Offer a full glass of fluid with medication. 
  • Monitor skin elasticity each day. 
  • Monitor the environment. Close blinds and windows to reduce indoor heat, and make sure the air conditioning is on a set schedule and working well. If outdoors, make sure there is a cool, shady place to sit. 

It is important to recognize the causes and symptoms of dehydration and know ways to help your elderly loved one stay hydrated. And don’t forget to utilize these tips for your own health as well. After all, you both deserve to have a healthy and happy summer! For more caregiving tips and information, visit our blog.

The heat of summer is here, so this is a good time to review some vital safety tips for seniors.  Elderly persons are more prone to the effects of heat and at greater risk for dehydration. Make sure you or someone you can trust is checking in on your elderly family members. 

• Try to plan activities that
require going outside during non-peak hours when it might be a little cooler.

• Move exercise indoors. 
Consider exercising at a gym, walking on a treadmill, or “mall walking” instead
of outdoor walks or activities. Swimming and water aerobics are good options as
well.

• Drink plenty of fluids
(non-alcoholic, caffeine-free as these ingredients have a diuretic effect).
Talk with your doctor if you take medications that affect fluid intake, such as
Lasix.

• Stay indoors, in cooled spaces
as much as possible. Check your loved one’s air-conditioning system, and do a
maintenance review. If electricity goes out, or your loved one does not have
air conditioning, consider alternative arrangements when heat is at dangerous
levels.

• Be aware of signs of
dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple
Photo courtesy of Pixabay (MabelAmber) Senior Couple

The most common signs of dehydration in the elderly are thirst, confusion, irritability, and poor skin elasticity. Keeping hydrated on a regular basis is the most important preventative measure, and individuals should be encouraged to drink fluids even when not thirsty as thirst may not be triggered until already dehydrated. Heat and dehydration may make seniors more prone to dizziness and falls and can cause or increase confusion. Heat exhaustion is the more mild form of heat-related illness. Warning signs may include the following: Heavy sweating; Paleness; Muscle Cramps; Fatigue; Weakness; Dizziness; Headache; Nausea or vomiting; Fainting. The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate may be fast and weak. Breathing may be fast and shallow.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs may include the following: An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F); Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating); Rapid, strong pulse; Throbbing headache; Dizziness; Nausea. Any indication of heat stroke is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical attention.

Be aware of other summer dangers. Talk with
your loved one about alternatives if he/she handles maintenance around the
home, such as yard work or cleaning gutters. This may be especially
dangerous in the heat, but may also pose general risks for falling and safety.
Be vigilant about sunscreen and protect against insect bites. If you or someone
you know has a bite that seems abnormal or you notice any unusual symptoms,
seek medical attention.

Contributed By Caren Parnes, for The Senior’s Choice