July 4th And Summer Months In General May Require Special Considerations For Your Patients
Pegasus expert in-home caregivers in Glendora and elsewhere know that sunshine is beneficial. They also understand that spending too much time in the sun harms individuals. Career home health care nurses know that the summer months may require special considerations for their patients.
Most people know that sunshine helps their bodies produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for bone health. It also has a role in reducing inflammation and strengthening the immune system.
In addition, adequate amounts of sunshine have even more benefits. Among those are:
- Improved sleep
- Increased alertness
- Lowered blood pressure
- Production of beta-endorphins, which reduce pain
- Protection from diseases like MS and some cancers
- Reduced depression
- Regulation of serotonin and melatonin
Many people can reduce their stress by spending a few minutes outside on a sunny day.
While moderate amounts of sunshine are beneficial, too much creates health issues. Experts recommend five to fifteen minutes two to three times a week. Ideally, sunshine time should be before 10:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m.
The primary risk from overexposure to the sun is skin cancer. Overexposure also puts individuals at risk for damage to their eyes, including cataracts and macular degeneration. Too much sunlight also damages the skin and prematurely ages it.
Photosensitivity Is A Problem For Some
Specific medical conditions or medications may cause photosensitivity in your patient. Photosensitive individuals experience adverse reactions to even small amounts of sunshine. Repeated exposure weakens the body’s ability to resist skin damage or skin cancer.
A variety of medical conditions increase photosensitivity. Your patient may be taking medications, like antibiotics, that increase their risk of severe sunburn. Some skin care products, such as retinol, reduce the skin’s ability to resist damage.
Sun Protection Is Essential For Everyone
Sun protection isn’t complicated. Advise your patient to apply sunscreen before they go outside. Experts recommend a broad-spectrum product rated at least 15 SPF or higher.
Caution your patients about going outdoors mid-day when the sun’s rays are the most intense. When outside, they need to spend as much time in the shade as possible. Sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, and clothing that covers their arms and legs are essential.
Your patient may insist that they don’t need protection. They maintain that the years they’ve spent soaking up the sun haven’t hurt them. They reason that if they’ve made it thus far without serious consequences, why change.
They may not realize that sun damage is cumulative. Their age is also against them. Aging leads to:
- Reduced ability to heal
- Thinned skin that’s more susceptible to damage
- Weakened immune system
These factors, combined with smoking and environmental factors like pollution, increase their risk of developing skin cancer.
Heat-Related Illness Can Be Serious
Summer is a time for outdoor events, such as the Fourth of July celebrations. As well as sun exposure, your patients are often vulnerable to excessive heat exposure. Many of the same factors that increase their risk of sunburn increase their risk of heat-related illnesses.
Chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, increase their vulnerability. So do specific medications. And again, their age puts them at increased risk.
Elderly individuals often have poor circulation. They may be unable to cool their body by sweating as effectively as younger people. Many individuals, young or old, don’t realize they are dehydrated or overheated until they are in danger.
When the weather is hot, encourage seniors to stay inside until it cools off outside. Many are chronically dehydrated, and heat exacerbates that. Provide them with tips to help with hydration.
Teach your patients and their family caregivers the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Ensure that they know first aid measures for both. Emphasize that these are emergencies, and immediate medical aid is essential.
Tips To Help Your Patient Stay Cool
Many contemporary homes have air conditioning. Your patient may not like it, as older individuals often say it makes them feel chilled. Work with family caregivers to adjust the thermostat incrementally until their loved one feels comfortable.
Your patient doesn’t have to spend all day in an air-conditioned room. Two or three hours can often be enough to cool them adequately. For homes without air conditioning, suggest the following ways to keep loved ones cool:
- Cover windows with shades or heat-blocking curtains
- Dress in layers of lightweight clothing they can easily remove
- Place a cool, wet cloth on the back of the neck
- Serve cooling snacks, like popsicles, and keep meals light
- Sit with feet in a pan of cool water
- Use products like ice blankets, pillows, towels, or wraps
Use house fans to create cooling air movement. Placing a container of ice in front of a fan, whether indoors or outdoors, will cool the surrounding air.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our in-home caregivers in Glendora and our other locations are experts in patient safety. Career home health care nurses know the benefits and risks of spending time in the sunshine.