In a recent post urging post-COVID support for restaurants, the Visit Cape Cod Facebook page framed the message in this timely, engaging way: “Your social life called – it misses you.”
The declaration applies to all of us in varying degrees, and with Massachusetts reaching its vaccination goal, COVID hospitalizations at a historic low, and restrictions being lifted, there are also varying responses as life on the Cape returns to normal at the same time waves of summer visitors are returning to our towns and beaches.
Our Homecare Choices clients and their families are happily part of that return-to-normal trend, which has many positive benefits. At the same time, we’re preparing them to handle seasonal challenges—like sun, heat and humidity—that weren’t as prominent during the stay-home summer of 2020.
In many ways, COVID has permanently changed the landscape for those we care for, the aging parents, aunts, uncles, and even older siblings who may no longer be driving after the pandemic kept them off the road for too long, and may be finding they have fewer friends around for companionship.
Most of the news at this point is positive, and the staff and caregivers of Homecare Choices are spreading the optimism by helping our clients get the quality back in their lives. With safety and caution still top priorities, we are leaning into the promise of summer and the opportunities it provides for getting out and being social.
Vaccines have meant children and grandchildren can visit elders again. Some of our clients have left assisted living facilities to return home after feeling especially marooned during COVID. Others have found a new equilibrium that balances getting out with staying in and enjoying newfound IT skills that have them socializing by playing bridge online, or worshipping with a televised Mass.
We encourage, assist, and support all of it with a suite of care services that includes companionship, personal care, medication management assistance, light housekeeping and meal prep, chores, errands and local excursions, and even pet care.
“In many ways, COVID forced us to embrace the essential things that sustain and enrich our lives,” Homecare Choices Executive Director Peter Carey said. “That may have felt simply necessary through the winter and into early spring, but now that things are returning to normal many changes we’ve made feel liberating. It’s also notable that the emphasis on safe, simple, and rewarding activities and lifestyles aligns with the philosophy that has always inspired Homecare Choices.”
It’s also important to remember that just as winter brought a specific set of challenges for elders, so does summer with its sun, heat, humidity, and more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a good source of information on summer safety for seniors that also applies to all of us. In a post entitled Heat and Older Adults, the CDC says:
- Older adults do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
- They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
- They are more likely to take prescription medicines that affect the body’s ability to control its temperature or sweat.
To address those issues, the CDC recommends:
- Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If your home doesn’t have air conditioning, contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
- Do not rely on a fan as your main cooling source when it’s really hot outside.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
- If your doctor limits the amount of fluids you drink or has you on water pills, ask them how much you should drink during hot weather.
- Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Do not engage in very strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
- Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
For those who want to spend time outdoors and participate in activities, a related post, Keep Your Cool in Hot Weather! further advises:
- Limit your outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
- Pace your activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
- Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
- Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
When it comes to seniors’ protecting their skin from the sun, the CDC said fewer than half were taking appropriate measures.
“A major risk factor for most skin cancers is too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays,” the CDC post said. “Making sun protection an everyday habit can help prevent sunburns and lower a person’s chances of getting skin cancer.” Recommended steps include these:
- Stay in the shade.
- Use sunscreen.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Wear clothing to the ankles.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt.
Those who want to learn more about Homecare Choices and its services may reach out to Executive Director Peter Carey by phone at 508-313-2529, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s also a contact form on the website and free consultations are offered.