Summer is right around the corner and as our weather improves, we all tend to spend more time outdoors enjoying our favorite summer time activities or doing work around the home. For the older adult, certain common-sense precautions can help to ensure a long, enjoyable and healthy summer.

If your usual 'spring cleaning' involves heavy lifting associated with yard work, cleaning out closets, and emptying cupboards, there are two things to consider; stretching and lifting.

Stretching or "limbering up" before any strenuous activity is important for a number of reasons. First, stretching delivers oxygen and blood to your muscles, preparing them for the work ahead. By warming up, you are reducing the chance of muscle inflammation we commonly refer to as "pulling" a muscle, and helping your muscle fibers build up their resilience.

Proper lifting techniques are important to avoid muscle strains, and more serious back problems. First, you must know your limitations. If something is obviously too heavy, ask for help. Second, if you are lifting an object off the ground, bend at the knees; do not bend at the waist. The resulting injuries you might suffer will assure you a summer of watching golf on television rather than playing yourself!

Another often-overlooked consideration that we all need to pay attention to is hydration. Getting adequate liquids in your body to avoid dehydration or heat stroke can make a difference at any of your outdoor events this summer. As the sun and heat intensifies, you need to increase your intake of water. Remember, not all liquids are created equal. When spending your time in the sun, avoid the caffeinated drinks as they act as diuretics, causing increased fluid loss.

Sun Screen For SeniorsLastly, always remember when leaving home during the daylight hours, to bring your sunscreen. We all know how the warm sunshine feels on our face after a long cold winter, and there is nothing wrong with courting the sun, but do so with protection. Remember that 80% of the problems associated with fine wrinkles and blotchy skin tones are caused from sun exposure, not natural aging. 

The  next time you grab your clubs and head to the course, or plan to spend time outside, be sure to grab the sunscreen, preferably an 30 SPF or higher, which is what dermatologists recommend. Please keep in mind, regular use and application of sunscreen is key, especially when doing activities that cause perspiration and water.

So get ready for a safe, active and healthy summer. Moreover, if you are unsure of your limitations, make this as an opportunity to visit with your family doctor. A check-up visit will ensure that we are all ready to take full advantage of the fine weather ahead. Your doctor can also discuss any health concerns that may have surfaced over the winter and prescribe a treatment plan to keep you healthy and active.

Just remember when heading out, grab your water bottle, do not forget the sunscreen, and know your limitations.

These are sensible precautions we make sure residents at Bishop's Commons take for all of our summer outings and are precautions you should consider as well. They may help ensure you get the most enjoyment out of this summer. 

Julie Chetney is Director of Senior Services at Bishop’s Commons