9 Simple Beach Safety Tips For Seniors

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

For many seniors, summer isn’t complete until a beach trip is in the books. So, make sure your next trip is as safe as possible with these beach safety tips for seniors and older adults.

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Spending time at the beach IS The epitome of all that is good with summer. For many people, including seniors, there is no better way to relax than spending some time on a beach basking in the sun, strolling on the beach, or simply enjoy some shade close to the water.

However, it pays to be safe. The beach can be a hazardous environment. As such, we’ve prepared the top beach safety tips for seniors to keep in mind throughout this coming summer (or any summer months). Enjoy your time at the beach while protecting the safety of your senior loved ones with the tips below.

1. Check The Weather

The main goal of heading to the beach is to enjoy yourself. It’s practically impossible to enjoy your time at the beach if the weather does not corporate. There is no good time to be had if there is a thunderstorm looming. It’ll be hard to relax if it’s chucking it down while at your local beach. Moreover, you might end up rushing to get away from bad weather, which will put you at risk of injury.

With the above in mind, always check the weather report before heading to the beach. Ensure the weather report is predictably favorable during your visit to the beach.

2. Be Mindful Of Accessibility

Before you set out for the beach, take into consideration the issue of accessibility. How far is the parking lot from the spot you want to set up for your stay? Do you have to use stairs to access the beach? I recommends seniors always use a beach cart to haul their gear instead of lugging it around.

Will you need a mobility aid such as a wheelchair, beach walker, or cane? Chances are your usual device may not be sand-friendly.

These are some of the questions regarding accessibility you should answer as you’re planning for the trip to the beach. Importantly, you should prepare as best as you can.

If you’re taking a senior loved one, ensure they can access the beach and enjoy spending time there. Equally, if you’re a senior looking to spend some time at the beach, ensure you are in the company of friends and loved ones who will help you enjoy your time at the beach by keeping an eye on you.

senior drinking water at beach
Staying hydrated while at the beach is an important safety step for people of all ages.

3. Stay Energized And Hydrated

You should carry some healthy snacks with you for the trip to the beach. Snacks are especially important for seniors with diabetes and those with low blood sugar. Given that the entire experience can be taxing on a senior’s body, ensure you have healthy foods for them to snack throughout the stay at the beach.

In the same light, drinking water while basking in the sun is not only recommended but necessary for everyone, more so the elderly. Keep a water bottle full if cool water at all times. If you’re elderly enjoying some time at the beach, make an effort to stay hydrated during the entire duration. On the other hand, if you taking care of the elderly at the beach, make water available and remind your loved one to drink plenty of it.

While drinking ample water should prevent heat exhaustion, it’s still important that you look out for signs of heatstroke in older adults. Signs of heatstroke include confusion, cramps, headaches, nausea, and extreme thirst. If you notice these signs, call an ambulance immediately. However, as a preventive measure, provide plenty of shade to seniors to keep them cool and ensure they stay hydrated.

4. Slather On Sunscreen

Protecting an elder’s skin from the sun’s UV rays is paramount. As we age, our skin cells become more prone to damage from UV rays, which, in turn, can cause cancer. It’s, therefore, of critical importance that you supply ample sunscreen and encourage your elderly loved to apply it regularly (at least after every two hours or more if they spend time in the water). Importantly, ensure the sunscreen you purchase has an SPF rating of at least 30.

Aside from sunscreen, other important beach gear for seniors includes eyewear and hats to protect the face and eyes from UV light exposure.

senior woman wearing a sun hat on the beach
Cool and airy clothing that also provides coverage and protection, especially a beach hat, is the best choice for older adults enjoying a beach day.

5. Dress Appropriately

In an era when summer a getting hotter than ever before, it’s important for seniors to be mindful of the amount of solar radiation they expose their skins to. If you’re heading to the beach for the day or even afternoon, you want to ensure you dress appropriately and comfortably.

Choose your clothes carefully. Long sleeves, trousers, and long skirts will help cover and protect their skin. Moreover, it’s still important for seniors to stay cool while at the beach despite wearing long-sleeved clothes.

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So, you should choose clothes that achieve a balance between protecting your clothes and keeping you cool. To this end, wear loose-fitting clothes with dense fabric (preferably clothes made of natural fiber such as cotton). You can go a step further and choose clothes that are rated to have an ultraviolet protection factor of 30.

With regards to the color of clothes, lighter colored clothes are better to wear when heading to the beach. They are more reflective and will help to keep you cooler by reflecting some of the solar heat away.

6. Do Not Forget Your Medicine

It’s important that seniors keep up with their medication. You ought to bring all the medication they need for the day with you to the beach. Importantly, however, you should ensure you store the medication properly. It’s common for UV light from the sunlight to react with the medicine, affecting their efficacy.

To protect the medicine, avoid exposing the medicine to sunlight for an extended period of time. Moreover, try and store the medicine in cool storage space, especially medicine that should be stored at room temperature.

7. Wear Supportive Shoes

Footwear at the beach is a necessity for seniors. The elderly need to protect their feet from cuts from rocks and broken shells. Additionally, shoes reduce the risk of falling due to unstable sand at the beach.

Finally, shoes protect the feet from sand burns, which is a common issue for seniors. With this in mind, invest in a pair of lightweight water shoes, which will protect their feet without soaking water.

If you choose to swim, stay close to the lifeguard stand and make sure someone in your party is also keeping an eye on you too.

8. Swim Close To The Lifeguard

If you decide to venture into the water, you should swim near lifeguards. The vast majority of the drownings at the beach occur in unguarded areas of the beach. For your safety, ensure you are near lifeguards where you’re near their line of sight.

Moreover, you should take note of the fact that currents will drift you down the shore. While the push exacted by currents might be subtle, it will take you a fair distance from your starting point over time.

Ensure you know your starting point before you venture into the water. Take note of a conspicuous landmark near your starting point that’s visible from across the beach. With such a mental note, you’ll find it a lot easier to reposition yourself to the starting point if you drift down the shore. Make a point of returning to your spot regularly to ensure you are not far away from the lifeguards.

Importantly, seniors should never swim alone. Swim in a group of individuals who can help you swim safely. Keep in mind that as we age, strength, balance, and dexterity diminishes making it easy to drown. Additionally, you can lose your footing on the rocky or sandy floor of the beach, leaving you susceptible to drowning.

If you take your elderly loved one to the beach, keep a close eye on them, ensuring they are safe and within close reach at all times.

9. Watch Out For Marine Life

There are different risks involved in encountering marine life. For the most part, you will not be in danger when you encounter a fish. Furthermore, while pop culture has taught the masses to fear shark attacks, they are indeed rare. However, you still need to be cautious of other marine animals.

You should keep an eye out for jellyfish while swimming. Depending on the jellyfish species, their venous stings can cause anything from skin irritation to severe injuries. In worse-case scenarios, a jellyfish sting can have severe consequences such as death – Box jellyfish’s stings are renowned for potentially causing death.

Other marine animals to be mindful of include clams and mussels, especially those with sharps shells such as razor clams. They can easily cut your feet when you step on them. As such, walk with caution, especially when strolling on rocky beaches.

Note: Even when you take as much precaution as possible, there is still a potential for falls and accidents taking place. With this in mind, consider investing in a medical alert watch, which makes contacting emergency services a lot quicker and easier. A medical alert device will make your beach excursion much safer while giving you peace of mind.

Conclusion

In most cases, it’s all fun and games when you spend time at the beach. Nonetheless, there are important safety considerations to keep in mind if you are a senior or when you are taking care of one. The tips we’ve covered above will help to enrich your experience at the beach enormously by reducing the safety risk seniors are exposed to. Follow them religiously to enhance the safety of the time you share together at the beach with an elderly loved one.

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