Seniors at the Pool – Rules for Safe Use
Summer is a good time to recall some safety rules for swimmers and non-swimmers at the pool. For caregivers and seniors at the pool, safety at your home or elsewhere should be a top priority.
There is the same possibility that a wandering senior with dementia could wander into a swimming pool and drown as there is that a toddler might do so. Many dementia patients express fear of a bathtub, so a pool might also be very frightening to them. However, others could innocently wander right in without recognizing any danger at all. That’s why hot tubs and pools at home should have a safety fence around them and a locked gate entrance that should be kept locked when it is unattended. This prevents accidental drownings.
There are pool alarms which sound off when they detect motion in the pool water. Other alarms come in the form of wearable wristbands which sound an alarm in the home when they are come in contact with pool water. These alarms are another layer of protection for the non-swimmer, whether he is a child or an adult, and are another form of assistance for a caregiver.
Children and seniors should be supervised at all times around the pool. A life vest is a great way to keep everyone, swimmer or non-swimmer, safe in and around the water. Insist that everyone keeps on their vest. No one, adult or child, should swim without a buddy in the water or without an observer at the side. Having a cell phone close by is a good practice in case of an emergency. Finally, knowing CPR is another valuable way for a caregiver to protect the lives of seniors and others in a pool-side emergency.
Around the Pool
Slippery surfaces around a pool and patio area are dangerous to seniors because of the risk of falling. Abrasive tape strips and slip-resistant paint can make the patio area safer for walking.
Is your patio furniture lightweight and easy to tip over? Then, when a senior leans on it, an accident could happen. Attach some anti-tip brackets on the legs of the table and chairs to prevent them from tipping or sliding on the wet patio concrete.
What about wearing diapers in the pool? There are swim diapers for babies and toddlers, and did you know that there are also disposable adult swim diapers and swim diaper covers for adults? One brand is Swimmates which are disposable adult-size diapers that prevent feces from getting in the water. They are worn once under a usual swimsuit or trunks. There is also a Swim Diaper Wrap and Pull-On design which is made of nylon and spandex and prevents waste from seeping out. Look online for these.
On the Patio
Make sure that you and the seniors at the pool are wearing slip-resistant shoes on the wet pavement around the pool. Flip-flops are probably the worst choice in footwear for an elderly person with mobility issues. It is just too easy to trip in flip-flops.
It’s okay to use the walker or wheelchair when you are on the patio, if you wish. Just wipe off the wheels by laying a towel down and rolling over it before entering the house.
Goggles may be helpful to those who don’t want water in their eyes when swimming. Sunglasses are for those tanning on the patio.
Everyone should wear suntan lotion with an appropriate SPF to protect them from sunburn. Seniors with thin skin should also wear a hat or stay in the shade for intermittent periods. Sun umbrellas or portable tents can provide needed shade too.
Drinking water, not sodas or alcohol, is very important to prevent dehydration because seniors are more susceptible to becoming dehydrated when out in the heat. Bathroom breaks are also a good idea.
Spending time by the pool is fun and relaxing for everyone, whether one gets in the pool or one just sits and enjoys the scenery and conversation. Make it a safe time for seniors at the pool by doing a little preparation and considering safety first.