Summer Safety Tips For Family Caregivers

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If you care for children, an elderly individual or someone with a health condition, be prepared for summer weather and stay safe when temperatures soar.

Shawn Bennis, R.N., Henry Ford C.A.R.E. (Caregivers Resources, Assistance and Education) Program coordinator, offers these summer safety tips for caregivers and their loved ones:

  • Hydrate. Seniors, kids, and people with health conditions may not feel thirsty and can become easily dehydrated. “Always have fluids available, and remind your loved one to drink,” says Bennis. “Just plain water is perfect, but decaffeinated iced tea, juice and milk are also appealing.” Change it up with fruit-infused water – add berries or sliced strawberries, lemons, limes, cucumbers, or herbs like mint to a pitcher of water. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight.
  • Be sun savvy. It’s best to stay out of the hot sun. Plan outings in the morning or evening, and find shade when out of doors. “Be sure your loved one, and you, wears sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect from UV rays, even if it’s cloudy,” advises Bennis.
  • Check medications. Some medications make skin extra sensitive to the sun, and sun can make side effects worse. Medications may also need to be stored in a cool place or refrigerated. Ask your pharmacist to review your loved ones’ medications for sun and temperature warnings.
  • Monitor food safety. In hot weather, it’s even more important for cold food to stay cold. If something gets left out or smells off, throw it away.
  • Keep the temp consistent. “Seniors and people with health conditions don’t adjust easily to changes in temperature, so keep the temperature at home as consistent and comfortable as possible,” says Bennis.
  • Dress for the weather. Light, loose clothing will help your loved one stay cool in warm weather. Put away winter clothes so those with Alzheimer’s or dementia don’t make unseasonal – and potentially dangerous – choices. “An older or frail person may also get chilled in the shade or air conditioning. When leaving home, take a jacket and a light blanket along just in case,” suggests Bennis.
  • Minimize mosquito bites. Seniors and those with compromised immune systems are vulnerable to mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile. Use mosquito repellant when outdoors to minimize risk. Kids often do not notice the need for mosquito repellent, so make sure to apply it before heading out.

“As you care for others this summer, don’t forget to care for yourself. Your own health and safety is just as important as the loved ones you care for,” adds Bennis.


The Henry Ford C.A.R.E. Program offers assistance, resources, support and information for caregivers. Find out more about support groups, classes and how our staff can help make caregiving easier. Call (313) 874-4838, email CaregiverResources@hfhs.org, or log on to henryford.com/caregivers.

Categories: FeelWell

Tags: Caregiver