Sun, Sand and Safety for Seniors, Sand and Safety for Seniors

Florida has 825 miles of beautiful sandy coastline. The state also features weather that is sunny and warm throughout the year…for the most part along with other perks like no income taxes, cultural diversity, and a variety of senior-friendly attractions that come with discounts. Florida is home to about 4.5 million seniors and more decide to make the smart move and residential transition to the state every year. 

People come for the weather but they often stay for the activities and one of the most popular is anything involved with one of the 189 official beaches throughout the state. While the beach is a great place to find fun, tranquility, and access to unlimited time with family and friends, it can pose a few common dangers if seniors living in Florida aren’t readily prepared and consistently aware. 

Keep reading as we talk about the top tips that seniors should know when visiting the beach and why it’s important to make these tips part of your regular practice.

Swimming Safety Is for Everyone, Not Just Children 

While young children do have the highest rate of drowning, keep in mind that drowning can happen to anyone of any age. For seniors, it’s important that you do a few things when you visit your favorite Florida beaches such as;

  • Ensuring that you know how to swim before entering the water
  • Using swim aids if needed or wearing an anti-drown device
  • Swimming close to a lifeguard
  • Being aware of your level of hydration and energy
  • Staying on top of the types of medications you took before going to the beach and the dosage
  • Knowing how to read the water and the waves

These are tips that everyone should be following if applicable to them, however, for seniors this is especially important. Every year at least 300 older adults drown and this represents drowning in a pool or spa, as well as bathtubs. Consider how much higher this number would rise in beach areas considering the other potential threats and variety of factors that could contribute to drowning when in a much larger body of water like the ocean. 

Additionally, seniors need to be aware that with age, endurance declines. This simply means that you have to be aware of your surroundings, your abilities, and when you need assistance to ensure that you have a safe time when you’re in ocean waters.

Don’t Forget to Tend to Your Skin

This might go without saying but protecting your skin is vital to long-lasting health and comfort. At least 1 in every 5 Americans over 70 have skin cancer yet 18% of older adults admit to not using sunscreen and this even includes seniors that are aware that they have sensitive skin. Be proactive and take initiative by preparing a beach bag ahead of time. In your beach bag you should always carry;

  • Sunscreen
  • Beach umbrella
  • Sunvisor
  • Sunglasses

These are a few things that will help to protect you from direct sunlight and being overexposed to the sun. 

Be Aware of Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke 

Many people aren’t aware that they are becoming exhausted by heat until different symptoms start to set in. Be aware that while heat exhaustion often comes before heat stroke, it may not always happen this way since many people leave heat exhaustion untreated. For seniors, you need to be aware that untreated heat exhaustion makes you more susceptible to heat stroke. To know how to tell the two apart, follow these signs and symptoms;

Heat Exhaustion

  • Headache
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Thirst
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea
  • High body temperature

Heat Stroke

  • Seizures
  • High body temperature; 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Losing consciousness
  • Profuse sweating or hot and dry skin

Pay attention to the signs of heat exhaustion to prevent yourself from experiencing heat stroke and pay attention to these signs in others as well. To prevent both, do your best to stay cool, hydrated, and out of direct sunlight for long periods, and know that it’s okay to experience the beach in phases. Also, try not to go during peak times of the day.

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration 

Not too many people realize that of the 12,000 people that die every year from things related to heat, 80% of those deaths are people over the age of 60. A lot of heat-related illnesses and deaths are easily preventable and those prevention tactics have a lot to do with simply being aware and proactive. 

Something as simple as drinking water and maintaining the electrolytes that your body needs could be life-saving. Keep in mind that direct sunlight can fatigue your body a lot quicker than if you were in a shaded area. 

Every 15 to 20 minutes of being outside at the beach, you should be having at least 24 ounces of water at a minimum. If you take your grandchildren to the beach with you, their water intake should be properly monitored and maintained as well. Staying hydrated could help you extend your beach trip rather than cause it to end unexpectedly by causing preventable strain on your body.

Florida Seniors, Be Aware of the Weather 

Weather is important because it allows you to know how to prepare. For Florida, this often means being aware of the temperature so that you can properly lather with sunscreen and know how much of your skin you should be covering to protect it. However, the “check the weather” rule should apply to all outdoor conditions. 

Pay attention to storm warnings, wind speeds, and potential flooding if you’ve experienced recent storms in your area. If you have a vision impairment, decreased mobility, or other relatable impairments, this is significantly important especially if you will be walking or driving yourself to the beach.

Beach Sand Digging Can Be Dangerous 

Did you know that digging in the beach sand can be dangerous? As a senior living in Florida, this is something that you need to know considering it’s a popular pastime for any beachgoer. The reason is simple. Sand is collapsible…., especially beach sand. 

As people dig holes in the sand, especially those that span downward a few feet, it can become dangerous. Oftentimes, the diggers don’t fill the holes back up which poses a very dangerous tripping hazard for seniors…or anyone for that matter, and it also becomes more likely that someone could experience being trapped within an unstable hole at some point. 

The purpose is to look where you step and to be careful as you dig large holes while on the beach because sand collapses do happen more often than you’d think.

Do You Take Medication? Take It With You 

Always be mindful of the medication you take, when you take it, how much, and what you should or shouldn’t go without. Also, if you require a medical alert accessory, never forget to take it with you. There is a long list of medications that can cause an onset of vertigo or dizziness and heat is something that could increase the chance of those side effects occurring. Be aware of all side effects that your medication labels mention and plan your beach day with that in mind.

Don’t Ignore Your Mobility Needs

Mobility plays a large role in falls among seniors. Always be mindful that the beach is not necessarily flat and is quite uneven. If you use a walker or cane, always bring it with you along with someone that can assist you throughout the day if needed. If you have trouble walking, navigating the beach sands can be difficult with a walking aid and pose more tripping hazards so, it’s important to be as prepared as you can.

Enjoying Florida Beaches and Staying Safe as a Senior

Florida beaches are a fun place to be and it’s a great way to get a good amount of exercise, socialization, fresh air, and a good dose of Vitamin D. You do, however, want to stay on top of your wellness and safety during any beach day and the more you become familiar with proper accident and illness prevention methods, the more fun, relaxing, and stress-free your beach trips will be.

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