Anywhere you go, there are insects that can cause serious harm if bitten. For a senior citizen, bug bites can be a major concern. It can be harder for a senior citizen to run from a swarm of hornets, wasps, or bees. Less effective immune systems can make West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses can be harder to fight. Diseases caused by tick bites can also be an issue.
You want your parent to enjoy being outside. You don’t want them putting their health or safety at risk, however. Here are steps you can take to help your mom and dad avoid harmful insect bites.
Wear Protective Clothing When Outside
If your parent plans to work in the yard, clothing can protect from some insect bites. Wear light-colored clothing that covers all of the body. Ticks will have a harder time finding skin if you tuck pants into socks and tuck a shirt into the waistband. The light clothing color makes it easy to spot the darker ticks as they crawl up the body trying to find a location to feed from.
Use Insect Sprays
Your feelings on DEET will determine what kind of insect spray to use. Some worry about the safety of DEET. Others feel the risk of disease from an insect bite is worse than the possible effects DEET may have.
If you are okay with DEET, make sure skin, hair, and shoes are all sprayed. Don’t spray insect spray into the face. Spray it onto your hands and apply it to the face. After coming inside, your parent can take a shower to wash off the insect spray’s oils and protective agents.
For those who are not comfortable with insect sprays containing DEET, there are alternatives that prove effective. Picaridin shares properties with black pepper. It has been tested to repel mosquitoes and ticks for as long as 14 hours. Some also find that products containing eucalyptus oil and citronella oil help repel insects.
Use Yard Barriers
There are sprays that form a barrier that repels insects. These yard barriers are easy to apply and usually come with a built-in sprayer. If your parent has pets, make sure you read the label. They’re not always safe for use in areas pets frequent.
If your parent does have pets, look into diatomaceous earth as a barrier instead. While this powdery material won’t prevent flying insects, when insects like ticks and ants crawl through it, it can damage their exoskeletons and effectively exterminate them. You can find diatomaceous earth in gardening stores.
Elder care services are also important to consider. After being outside, your parent has someone who can check them over for ticks. Elder care providers are also on hand if your parent does get a bug bite or sting. Most insect bites won’t cause harm, but if your parent has a reaction, it’s important to have someone available to help. Call our elder care agency to learn more about summer safety for seniors.