Meals On Wheels of San Francisco

summer safety for seniors

Summer Health and Safety Tips for Seniors

Posted May 30, 2015

Featured Posts | MOWSF Blog | Senior Issues

Nutrition Department Staff Members

From left to right: MOWSF’s Nutrition Department includes Director of Nutrition Gladys G. Diamonon and Nutritionists Diane Luce and Nancy Wong.

By Gladys Diamonon, Director of Nutrition

Seniors are prone to heat-related health problems. Their internal organs function with less efficiency, especially ones helping the body deal with heat. Also, most seniors are on medications that further slow the body’s ability to deal with heat. Seniors should be mindful of dehydration, a lack of fluid in the body that can be caused by poor fluid intake or by losing too many fluids through normal body processes. Fluid is critical to most body functions, carrying oxygen and energy to the body and waste products away.

In summer, pay extra attention to proper food storage. Bacteria grow faster when temperatures are warm. Here are some guidelines about well-being and safety during hot weather.

Hot Weather Tips:

  • Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Lots of water is lost during perspiration. Carry a water bottle.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which cause your body to lose more water.
  • Stay indoors. Circulation of cool air helps you keep cool. Note: Electric fans may provide comfort but will not prevent heat-related illnesses.
  • Protect yourself against the sun. Wear loose-fitting and light-colored clothing, sunscreen, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Avoid unnecessary activity, especially in a hot environment.
  • Know your medications. Heat may affect your reactions.
  • When the temperatures are very hot, have a friend check on you throughout the day.
  • Plan outside activities during the cooler times — early morning or in the evening.

Food Safety tips:

  • Store food properly. Bacteria, including those causing foodborne illnesses, multiply faster in warm temperatures.
  • Store frozen meals in the freezer and cold bags in the refrigerator immediately upon delivery.
  • Eat hot meals as soon as they are delivered. If you plan to eat later, store meals in the refrigerator and then re-heat in the microwave.
  • Never leave perishable foods out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
  • Practice “FIFO” First In, First Out. Foods delivered first should be eaten first.
  • When in doubt of the safety of the food, throw it out.